“The Raid of the Reidswire” Summary


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Ballad Narrative

The tryst is set at Reidswire on the seventh of July for a wardens’ meeting to adjudicate on any matters of dispute between the Scots and the English, and parties from the two countries assemble. Carmichael is the Scottish warden and Sir John Forster is the English one. The narrator treats the affair from the point of view of a Scot. The meeting begins smoothly with cases being settled and, even when five hundred armed Fenwicks arrive to join the English party, there is no disturbance. It is when the case against a fugitive called Farnstein is being heard that Forster answers Carmichael rudely and arrogantly, and begins to quarrel with him, and the Tynedale men respond by letting off a flight of arrows against the Scots. General fighting breaks out leading to a number of deaths and injuries that are detailed in the narrative. The narrator blames Sir John Forster, not accusing him of having intended the battle to take place, but saying that his proud words had rekindled feud and caused the Tynedale men to begin the action.