Inchaffray Priory: Part One

The medieval mind saw things rather differently than many people today.  It was a world, I believe, where the physical and the supernatural, or spiritual, lived in...dare I say...communion?  No pun intended.  (But never look a gift pun in the mouth!)

Other blog posts here have discussed saints and miracles.  And more will in the future.  My current research is on the early months of 1318.  Where might Niall be?  The last we saw him in Westering Home, he'd been sent on a distasteful mission by the Bruce to retrieve papers from the unfortunate Adam Newton.  We will find out in the opening pages of The Battle is O'er that the Bruce sends Niall, Hugh, Lachlan, and Owen home to Glenmirril, lest they be seen and remembered as the culprits.

But we can be sure Niall will not just sit home until The Big Event at the end of The Battle is O'er.  So what is he doing?

He can't go to Rome to see the Pope because the Pope is now in Avignon.  Is there a reason he would go to see the Pope at all?  Quite possibly.  The Popes had definitively taken England's part, and as Pope John XXII wanted the war between England and Scotland cleared up so he could get going with a crusade, there were frequent messages back and forth from Avignon to both Scotland and England.  Scotland would certainly have sent messages in return.

Inchaffray Priory, Maurice, Abbot of Inchaffray, Robert the Bruce
In researching the question, I came across one detail that references St. Fillan's saintly help.  In the first three months of 1318, Bruce was likely busy with a lot of administrative work, including resettling of lands and offices, making appointments, and spending a fair amount of time in Arbroath.  In these three months, he endowed a chapel to St. Fillan, attached to Inchaffray Priory, in thanks for help he attributed to the saint during his flight through Perthshire in 1306.

St. Fillan is fairly well known for the miracle the night before battle at Bannockburn.  Maurice, the abbot of Inchaffray Priory plays a part in that act.  But what happened in Perthshire in 1306?  (And does it stay there?  No, obviously not since we're about to read it here!)

My guess is that the 'help' referred to in 1306 concerns the Battle of Dalrigh.  Dal righ means Field of the King, and comes from the battle fought there by King Robert in the summer of 1306.  It is technically accurate to say Robert the Bruce was king at that time.  However, it was in name only.  Sort of like--because he said so.

The weeks leading up to his coronation were just not the kind of weeks any of us would want.  First, there was his apparent betrayal by John Comyn to Edward and a hasty flight to escape capture.  Then he killed John Comyn at the altar at Greyfriars on February 10--I believe in moment of high tempers rather than pre-planned, but it meant a hasty flight to Scone and a shotgun coronation, so to speak, before the Pope could find out and excommunicate him, because an ex-communicated man cannot be anointed king.

There were few at his coronation, and Elizabeth, his wife, is reported to have said, "Alas, we are but king and queen of the May."  Or, according to other sources: 'It seems to me we are but a summer king and queen whom children crown in their sport.'

Due to length...let us leave off there and continue with PART TWO tomorrow!  But we are getting to Inchaffray Priory and St. Fillan in PART THREE...I promise!  [And in the meantime, I'm still not sure what Niall is doing in these three months!]

  • Sunday, June 18, 10 am: Books and Brews with Scott, owner of Eat My Words Bookstore
  • June 24, 2017, 3 to 5 pm: Reading at Eat My Words Books with Michael Agnew
  • October 2017: Author Talk and luncheon at Lawrence University
  • October 16, 2017: speaker at Fox Cities Book Festival in Appleton, Wisconsin
  • January 9, 2018: Talk with the Osseo Book Club
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