Robert I of Scotland: Wikis


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Robert I
King of Scots
Reign 1306–1329
Coronation 25 March 1306
Predecessor John Balliol
Successor David II
Spouse Isabella of Mar
Elizabeth de Burgh
Marjorie Bruce
David II of Scotland
House House of Bruce
Father Robert de Brus, 6th Lord of Annandale
Mother Marjorie, Countess of Carrick
Born 11 July 1274(1274-07-11)
Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland,[1][2]
Died 7 June 1329 (aged 54)
Burial Dunfermline Abbey (Body) -- Melrose Abbey (Heart)

Robert I (11 July 1274 – 7 June 1329) usually known in modern English as Robert the Bruce (Medieval Gaelic: Roibert a Briuis; modern Scottish Gaelic: Raibeart Bruis; Norman French: Robert de Brus or Robert de Bruys) was King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329.

His paternal ancestors were of Scoto-Norman heritage (originating in Brieux, Normandy)[3], and his maternal of Franco-Gaelic[4]. He became one of Scotland's greatest kings, as well as one of the most famous warriors of his generation, eventually leading Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against the Kingdom of England. He claimed the Scottish throne as a four-greats-grandson of David I of Scotland.

His body is buried in Dunfermline Abbey, while his heart is buried in Melrose Abbey. His embalmed heart was to be taken on crusade by his lieutenant and friend Sir James Douglas to the Holy Land, but only reached Moorish Granada, where it acted as a talisman for the Scottish contingent at the Battle of Teba.


Background and early life

Robert was the first son of Robert de Brus, 6th Lord of Annandale and Marjorie, Countess of Carrick,[5] daughter of Niall, Earl of Carrick. His mother was by all accounts a formidable woman who, legend would have it, kept Robert Bruce's father captive until he agreed to marry her. From his mother, he inherited the Gaelic Earldom of Carrick, and through his father a royal lineage that would give him a claim to the Scottish throne. Although his date of birth is known,[6] his place of birth is less certain, but it was probably Turnberry Castle in Ayrshire.[1][7][8]

Very little is known of his youth. He could have been sent to be fostered with a local family, as was the custom. It can be presumed that Bruce may have been raised speaking all the languages of his lineage and nation[4] and may have spoken Galwegian Gaelic, Scots and Norman French, with literacy in Latin. Robert's first appearance in history is on a witness list of a charter issued by Alasdair MacDomhnaill, Lord of Islay. His name appears in the company of the Bishop of Argyll, the vicar of Arran, a Kintyre clerk, his father and a host of Gaelic notaries from Carrick.

He saw the outcome of the 'Great Cause' in 1292, which gave the Crown of Scotland to his distant relative, John Balliol, as unjust. As he saw it, it prevented his branch of the family from taking their rightful place on the Scottish throne.[9] Soon afterwards, his grandfather, Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandalethe unsuccessful claimant—resigned his lordship to Robert de Brus, Bruce's father. Robert de Brus had already resigned the Earldom of Carrick to Robert Bruce, his son, on the day of his wife's death in 1292, thus making Robert Bruce the Earl of Carrick. Both father and son sided with Edward I against John whom they considered a usurper and to whom Robert had not sworn fealty.[10]

In April 1294, the younger Bruce had permission to visit Ireland for a year and a half, and, as a further mark of King Edward's favour, he received a respite for all the debts owed by him to the English Exchequer.

In 1295, Robert married his first wife, Isabella of Mar the daughter of Domhnall I, Earl of Mar and his wife Helen .

Some sources claim that Helen was the daughter of the Welsh ruler Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales, Llywelyn 'The Great' (1173–1240) and his spouse Joan, Lady of Wales, an illegitimate child of King John of England. However, as both Llywelyn and Joan were dead by 1246, that theory would most likely be incorrect. However, there are suggestions that Helen may have in fact been the daughter of Llywelyn's son Dafydd ap Llywelyn and his Norman wife Isabella de Braose, of the south Wales dynasty of Marcher Lords.

Beginning of the Wars of Independence

Robert the Bruce and Isabella of Mar

In August 1296, Bruce and his father swore fealty to Edward I of England at Berwick-upon-Tweed, but in breach of this oath, which had been renewed at Carlisle, the younger Robert supported the Scottish revolt against King Edward in the following year. Urgent letters were sent ordering Bruce to support Edward's commander, John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey (to whom Bruce was related) in the summer of 1297; but instead of complying, Bruce continued to support the revolt against Edward. On 7 July, Bruce and his friends made terms with Edward by a treaty called the Capitulation of Irvine. The Scottish lords were not to serve beyond the sea against their will, and were pardoned for their recent violence in return for swearing allegiance to King Edward. The Bishop of Glasgow, James the Steward, and Sir Alexander Lindsay became sureties for Bruce until he delivered his infant daughter Marjorie as a hostage.

Shortly after the Battle of Stirling Bridge, Bruce again defected to the Scots; Annandale was wasted and he burned the English-held castle of Ayr. Yet, when King Edward returned to England after his victory at the Battle of Falkirk, Annandale and Carrick were excepted from the Lordships and lands which he assigned to his followers; Bruce was seen as a waverer whose allegiance could be acquired.[citation needed]

William Wallace resigned as Guardian of Scotland after the Battle of Falkirk. He was succeeded by Robert Bruce and John Comyn as joint Guardians, but they could not see past their personal differences. As a nephew and supporter of King John, and as someone with a serious claim to the Scottish throne, Comyn was Bruce's enemy. In 1299, William Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, was appointed as a third, neutral Guardian to try to maintain order between Bruce and Comyn. The following year, Bruce finally resigned as joint Guardian and was replaced by Sir Gilbert, 1st Lord de Umfraville, Earl of Angus (in right of his mother, Maud, Countess of Angus).

In May 1301, Umfraville, Comyn and Lamberton also resigned as joint Guardians and were replaced by Sir John de Soules as sole Guardian. Soules was appointed largely because he was part of neither the Bruce nor the Comyn camps and was a patriot. He was an active Guardian and made renewed efforts to have King John returned to the Scottish throne.

In July, King Edward I launched his sixth campaign into Scotland. Though he captured Bothwell and Turnberry Castle, he did little to damage the Scots' fighting ability and, in January 1302, agreed to a nine-month truce. It was around this time that Robert the Bruce submitted to Edward, along with other nobles, even though he had been on the side of the patriots until then.

There were rumours that King John would return as to regain the Scottish throne. Soules, who had probably been appointed by John, supported his return, as did most other nobles. But it was no more than a rumor and nothing came of it.

However, though recently pledged to support King Edward, it is interesting to note that Robert the Bruce sent a letter to the monks at Melrose Abbey in March 1302 which effectively weakened his usefulness to the English king. Apologising for having called the monks' tenants to service in his army when there had been no national call-up, Bruce pledged that, henceforth, he would "never again" require the monks to serve unless it was to "the common army of the whole realm", for national defence. Bruce also married his second wife that year, Elizabeth de Burgh, the daughter of Richard de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster. By Elizabeth he had four children: David II, John (died in childhood), Matilda (who married Thomas Isaac and died at Aberdeen 20 July 1353), and Margaret (who married William de Moravia, 5th Earl of Sutherland in 1345).

In 1303, Edward invaded again, reaching Edinburgh, before marching to Perth. Edward stayed in Perth until July, then proceeded via Dundee, Brechin and Montrose, to Aberdeen, where he arrived in August. From there, he marched through Moray to Badenoch, before re-tracing his path back south to Dunfermline. With the country now under submission, all the leading Scots, except for William Wallace, surrendered to Edward in February 1304. John Comyn, who was by now Guardian, submitted to Edward.

The laws and liberties of Scotland were to be as they had been in the days of Alexander III, and any that needed alteration would be with the advice of King Edward and the advice and assent of the Scots nobles.

On 11 June 1304, with both of them having witnessed the heroic efforts of their countrymen during King Edward's siege of Stirling Castle, Bruce and William Lamberton made a pact that bound them, each to the other, in “friendship and alliance against all men.” If one should break the secret pact, he would forfeit to the other the sum of ten thousand pounds. The pact is often interpreted as a sign of their deep patriotism despite both having already surrendered to the English.

With Scotland defenseless, Edward set about destroying her as a realm. Homage was again obtained under force from the nobles and the burghs, and a parliament was held to elect those who would meet later in the year with the English parliament to establish rules for the governance of Scotland. For all the apparent participation by Scots in the government, however, the English held the real power. The Earl of Richmond, Edward's nephew, was to head up the subordinate government of Scotland.

While all this took place, William Wallace was finally captured near Glasgow and was hanged, drawn and quartered in London on 23 August 1305.

In September 1305, Edward ordered Robert Bruce to put his castle at Kildrummy, "in the keeping of such a man as he himself will be willing to answer for," suggesting that King Edward suspected Robert was not entirely trustworthy and may have been plotting behind his back. However, an identical phrase appears in an agreement between Edward and his lieutenant and life-long friend, Aymer de Valence. Even more sign of Edward's distrust occurred when on October 10, 1305, Edward revoked his gift of Gilbert de Umfraville's lands to Bruce that he had made only six months before.[11]

Robert Bruce as Earl of Carrick and now 7th Lord of Annandale, held huge estates and property in Scotland and a barony and some minor properties in England and had a strong claim to the Scottish throne. He also had a large family to protect. If he claimed the throne, he would throw the country into yet another series of wars, and if he failed, he would be sacrificing everyone and everything he knew.

The killing of Comyn in Dumfries

Bruce, like all his family, had a complete belief in his right to the throne. However his actions of supporting alternately the English and Scottish armies had led to a great deal of distrust towards Bruce among the “Community of the Realm of Scotland”. His ambition was further thwarted by the person of John Comyn. Comyn had been much more resolute in his opposition to the English; he was the most powerful noble in Scotland and was related to many more powerful nobles both within Scotland and England. He also had a powerful claim to the Scottish throne through his descent from Donald III on his father's side and David I on his mother's side. He was also the nephew of King John.

According to Barbour and Fordoun, in the late summer of 1305 in a secret agreement sworn, signed and sealed, John Comyn agreed to forfeit his claim to the Scottish throne in favour of Robert Bruce upon receipt of the Bruce lands in Scotland should an uprising occur led by Bruce.[12] However any Comyn claim to the throne would be tenuous in the extreme and the claim is almost certainly a matter of Bruce propaganda.

Whether the details of the agreement with Comyn are correct or not, King Edward moved to arrest Bruce while Bruce was still at the English court. Fortunately for Bruce, his friend, and Edward's son-in-law, Ralph de Monthermer learnt of Edward's intention and warned Bruce by sending him twelve pence and a pair of spurs. Bruce took the hint,[13] and he and a squire fled the English court during the night. They made their way quickly for Scotland and the fateful meeting with Comyn at Dumfries.

According to Barbour, Comyn betrayed his agreement with Bruce to King Edward I, and when Bruce arranged a meeting for February 10, 1306 with Comyn in the Church of Greyfriars in Dumfries and accused him of treachery, they came to blows.[14] Bruce killed Comyn in Dumfries [15] before the high altar of the church of the monastery. The Scotichronicon says that on being told that Comyn had survived the attack and was being treated, two of Bruce's supporters, Roger de Kirkpatrick and John Lindsay, went back into the church and finished Bruce's work but Barbour tells no such story.

Bruce hurried from Dumfries to Glasgow, where, kneeling before Bishop Robert Wishart he made confession of his violence and sacrilege and was granted absolution by the Bishop. The clergy throughout the land was adjured to rally to Bruce by Wishart.[16] In spite of this, Bruce was excommunicated for this crime.[17] Realising that the 'die had been cast' and he had no alternative except to become king or a fugitive, Bruce asserted his claim to the Scottish crown.

Coronation at Scone - King Robert I

Barely seven weeks after Comyn was slain in Dumfries, Bruce was crowned King of Scots at Scone, near Perth on 25 March with all formality and solemnity. The kingly robes and vestments which Robert Wishart had hidden from the English were brought out by the Bishop and set upon King Robert. The bishops of St. Andrews, Moray and Glasgow were in attendance as well as the earls of Atholl, Menteith, Lennox, and Mar. The great banner of the kings of Scotland was planted behind his throne.[18]

Isabella MacDuff, Countess of Buchan and wife of John Comyn, Earl of Buchan (a cousin of the murdered John Comyn), who claimed the right of her family, the MacDuff Earl of Fife, to crown the Scottish king for her brother, Duncan (or Donnchadh) - who was not yet of age, and in English hands - arrived the next day, too late for the coronation, so a second coronation was held and once more the crown was placed on the brow of Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, Lord of Annandale, King of the Scots.

From Scone to Bannockburn

In June 1306, he was defeated at the Battle of Methven and in August, he was surprised in Strathfillan, where he had taken refuge.[citation needed] His wife and daughters and other women of the party were sent to Kildrummy in August 1306 under the protection of Bruce's brother Nigel Bruce and the Earl of Atholl and most of his remaining men.[19] Bruce, with a small following of his most faithful men, including James Douglas, Lord of Douglas, Bruce's brothers Thomas, Alexander and Edward, as well as Sir Neil Campbell and the Earl of Lennox, fled to Rathlin Island off the northern coast of Ireland.[20]

Edward I marched north again in the spring. On his way, he granted the Scottish estates of Bruce and his adherents to his own followers and published a bill excommunicating Bruce. Bruce's queen, Elizabeth, his daughter Marjorie, and his sisters Christina and Mary were captured in a sanctuary at Tain, and sent to harsh imprisonment, which included Mary being hung in a cage in Roxburgh Castle, and Bruce's brother Nigel was hanged, drawn and quartered.[citation needed] But, on 7 July, King Edward I died, leaving Bruce opposed by his son, Edward II.

Bruce and his followers returned to the Scottish mainland in February in two groups. One, led by Bruce and his brother Edward landed at Turnberry Castle and began a guerrilla war in southwest Scotland. The other, led by his brothers Thomas and Alexander, landed slightly further south in Loch Ryan; but they were soon captured and like his brother Nigel shared the fate of Wallace in being hanged, drawn and quartered.[citation needed]

In April, Bruce won a small victory over the English at the Battle of Glen Trool, before defeating Aymer de Valence, 2nd Earl of Pembroke at the Battle of Loudoun Hill. At the same time, James Douglas made his first foray for Bruce into south-western Scotland, attacking and burning his own castle in Douglasdale. Leaving his brother Edward in command in Galloway, Bruce travelled north, capturing Inverlochy and Urquhart Castles, burning Inverness Castle and Nairn to the ground, then unsuccessfully threatening Elgin.

Transferring operations to Aberdeenshire in late 1307, he threatened Banff before falling seriously ill, probably owing to the hardships of the lengthy campaign. Recovering, leaving John Comyn, 3rd Earl of Buchan unsubdued at his rear, Bruce returned west to take Balvenie and Duffus Castles, then Tarradale Castle on the Black Isle. Looping back via the hinterlands of Inverness and a second failed attempt to take Elgin, Bruce finally achieved his landmark defeat of Comyn at the Battle of Inverurie in May 1308, then overran Buchan and defeated the English garrison at Aberdeen.

He then crossed to Argyll and defeated another body of his enemies at the Battle of Pass of Brander and took Dunstaffnage Castle, the last major stronghold of the Comyns.[21]

Bruce reviewing troops before the Battle of Bannockburn.

In March 1309, he held his first Parliament at St. Andrews, and by August, he controlled all of Scotland north of the River Tay. The following year, the clergy of Scotland recognised Bruce as king at a general council. The support given to him by the church in spite of his excommunication was of great political importance.

The next three years saw the capture and reduction of one English-held castle or outpost after another: Linlithgow in 1310, Dumbarton in 1311, and Perth, by Bruce himself, in January 1312. Bruce also made raids into northern England and, landing at Ramsey in the Isle of Man, then laid siege to Castle Rushen in Castletown capturing it on 21 June 1313 to deny the island's strategic importance to the English. In the spring of 1314, Edward Bruce laid siege to Stirling Castle, whose governor, Philip de Mowbray, agreed to capitulate if not relieved before 24 June 1314. In March 1314, James Douglas captured Roxburgh, and Randolph captured Edinburgh Castle. In May, Bruce again raided England and subdued the Isle of Man.

The eight years of exhausting but deliberate refusal to meet the English on even ground have caused many to consider Bruce as one of the great guerrilla leaders of any age. This represented a transformation for one raised as a feudal knight. Bruce secured Scottish independence from England militarily — if not diplomatically — at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Freed from English threats, Scotland's armies could now invade northern England. Bruce also drove back a subsequent English expedition north of the border and launched raids into Yorkshire and Lancashire.


Buoyed by his military successes, Bruce's forces also invaded Ireland in 1315, purportedly to free the country from English rule (having received a reply to offers of assistance from Donal O'Neil, king of Tyrone), and to open a second front in the continuing wars with England. The Irish even crowned Edward Bruce as High King of Ireland in 1316. Robert later went there with another army to assist his brother.

To go with the invasion, Bruce popularised an ideological vision of a "Pan-Gaelic Greater Scotia" with his lineage ruling over both Ireland and Scotland. This propaganda campaign was aided by two factors. The first was his marriage alliance from 1302 with the de Burgh family of the Earldom of Ulster in Ireland; second, Bruce himself on his mother's side of Carrick, was descended from Gaelic royalty - in Scotland. Thus, lineally and geopolitically, Bruce attempted to support his anticipated notion of a pan-Gaelic alliance between Scottish-Irish Gaelic populations, under his kingship.

This is revealed by a letter he sent to the Irish chiefs, where he calls the Scots and Irish collectively nostra nacio (our nation), stressing the common language, customs and heritage of the two peoples:

Whereas we and you and our people and your people, free since ancient times, share the same national ancestry and are urged to come together more eagerly and joyfully in friendship by a common language and by common custom, we have sent you our beloved kinsman, the bearers of this letter, to negotiate with you in our name about permanently strengthening and maintaining inviolate the special friendship between us and you, so that with God's will our nation (nostra nacio) may be able to recover her ancient liberty.

The diplomacy worked to a certain extent, at least in Ulster, where the Scots had some support. The Irish chief, Donal O'Neil, for instance, later justified his support for the Scots to Pope John XXII by saying "the Kings of Lesser Scotia all trace their blood to our Greater Scotia and retain to some degree our language and customs."[22]

The Bruce campaign to Ireland was characterised by some initial military success. However, the Scots failed to win over the non-Ulster chiefs, or to make any other significant gains in the south of the island, where people couldn't see the difference between English and Scottish occupation. Eventually it was defeated when Edward Bruce was killed at the Battle of Faughart. The Irish Annals of the period described the defeat of the Bruces by the English as one of the greatest things ever done for the Irish nation due to the fact it brought an end to the famine and pillaging brought on the Irish by both the Scots and the English.[23]


Robert Bruce's reign also witnessed some diplomatic achievements. The Declaration of Arbroath of 1320 strengthened his position, particularly vis-à-vis the Papacy. Pope John XXII eventually lifted Bruce's excommunication. In May 1328 King Edward III of England signed the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, which recognised Scotland as an independent kingdom, and Bruce as its king.


The alleged death mask of Robert Bruce, Rosslyn Chapel (1446), Scotland

Robert died on 7 June 1329, at the Manor of Cardross, near Dumbarton[24] He had suffered for some years from what some contemporary accounts describe as an "unclean ailment". The traditional view is that this was leprosy, but this was not mentioned in contemporary accounts, and is now disputed with syphilis, psoriasis, motor neurone disease and a series of strokes all proposed as possible alternatives.[25]

Robert is buried in Dunfermline Abbey.

His body lies buried in Dunfermline Abbey, but according to a death bed decree Sir James Douglas removed and carried his heart 'against the enemies of the name of Christ' , in Moorish Granada, Spain to atone for his murder of John Comyn in the church of Greyfriars in Dumfries. Douglas carried the King’s heart in a casket of which Sir Symon of Locard (Lockhart) carried the key. The decree overrode an earlier written request, dated 13 May 1329 Cardross, that his heart be buried in the monastery at Melrose. Douglas was killed in an ambush whilst carrying out the decree. On realising his imminent death Douglas is said to have thrown the casket containing Bruce's heart ahead of him and shouted "Onward braveheart, Douglas shall follow thee or die." According to legend (Fordun Annals), the heart was later recovered by Sir William Keith and taken back to Scotland to be buried at Melrose Abbey, in Roxburghshire, following his earlier decree. In 1920 the heart was discovered by archeologists and was reburied, but the location was not marked.[26] In 1996, a casket was unearthed during construction work.[27] Scientific study by AOC archaeologists in Edinburgh, demonstrated that it did indeed contain a human heart and it was of appropriate age. It was reburied in Melrose Abbey in 1998, pursuant to the dying wishes of the King.[26]

Family and descendants

Robert Bruce had a large family in addition to his wife, Elizabeth, and his children. There were his brothers, Edward, Alexander, Thomas, and Neil, his sisters Christina, Isabel (Queen of Norway), Margaret, Matilda, and Mary, and his nephews Donald II, Earl of Mar and Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray.

In addition to his legitimate offspring, Robert Bruce had several illegitimate children by unknown mothers. His sons were:

His daughters were;

  • Elizabeth (married Walter Oliphant of Gask);
  • Margaret (married Robert Glen), alive as of 29 February 1364;
  • Christian of Carrick, who died after 1329, when she was in receipt of a pension.

Robert's only child by his first marriage, Marjorie Bruce, married Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland (1293–1326). She died on 2 March 1316, near Paisley, Renfrewshire, after being thrown from her horse while heavily pregnant, but the child survived. He was Robert II, who succeeded David II and founded the Stewart dynasty.

Bruce's descendants include all later Scottish monarchs (except Edward Balliol whose claim to be a Scottish monarch is debatable) and all British monarchs since the Union of the Crowns in 1603. A large number of families definitely are descended from him [28] but there is controversy about some claims.[29]


16. William de Brus
8. Robert de Brus
17. Christina
4. Robert de Brus
18. David of Scotland, Earl of Huntingdon
9. Isobel of Huntingdon
19. Maud of Chester
2. Robert de Brus
20. Richard de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford
10. Gilbert de Clare, 5th Earl of Hertford and Gloucester
21. Amice Fitz Robert
5. Isabella of Gloucester and Hertford
22. William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke
11. Isabel Marshal
23. Isabel de Clare
1. Robert I of Scotland
24. Donnchadh, Earl of Carrick
12 Cailean (Nicol) mac Donnchaidh
6. Níall of Carrick
26. Niall Ruadh Ó Néill
13. daughter
3. Marjorie of Carrick
28. Alan fitz Walter, 2nd High Steward of Scotland
14. Walter Steward of Dundonald
29. Alesta of Morggán
7. Margaret Stewart
30. Gille Críst, Earl of Angus
15. Bethóc of Angus
31. Marjorie of Huntingdon

Monuments and commemoration



Statue of Robert the Bruce.
Robert The Bruce at the entrance to Edinburgh Castle

The tomb of Robert I in Dunfermline Abbey was marked by the addition of large carved stone letters spelling out "King Robert the Bruce" around the perimeter of the bell tower. In 1974 the Bruce Memorial Window was installed in the north transept, commemorating the 700th anniversary the year of his birth. It depicts stained glass images of the Bruce flanked by his chief men, Christ, and saints associated with Scotland.[30]

A 1929 statue of Robert the Bruce is set in the wall of Edinburgh Castle at the entrance, along with one of William Wallace.

A statue of the Bruces stands outside Stirling Castle.

"Robert the Bruce statue in place after 130-year delay" (source


From 1981 to 1989, Robert the Bruce was portrayed on £1 notes issued by the Clydesdale Bank, one of the three Scottish banks with right to issue banknotes. He was shown on the obverse crowned in battle dress, surrounded by thistles, and on the reverse in full battle armour in a scene from the Battle of Bannockburn.[31] When the Clydesdale Bank discontinued £1 banknotes, Robert The Bruce's portrait was moved onto the bank's £20 banknote in 1990 and it has remained there to date.[32]


The airline British Caledonian, named a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 (G-BHDI) after Robert the Bruce.[33]


According to a legend, at some point while he was on the run during the winter of 1305-06, Bruce hid himself in a cave on Rathlin Island off the north coast of Ireland, where he observed a spider spinning a web, trying to make a connection from one area of the cave's roof to another. Each time the spider failed, it simply started all over again until it succeeded. Inspired by this, Bruce returned to inflict a series of defeats on the English, thus winning him more supporters and eventual victory. The story serves to explain the maxim: "if at first you don't succeed, try try again." Other versions have Bruce in a small house watching the spider try to make its connection between two roof beams [2]; or, defeated for the seventh time by the English, watching the spider make its attempt seven times, succeeding on the eighth try[citation needed].

But this legend appears for the first time in only a much later account, "Tales of a Grandfather" by Sir Walter Scott, and may have originally been told about his companion-in-arms Sir James Douglas (the "Black Douglas"). The entire account may in fact be a version of a literary trope used in royal biographical writing. A similar story is told, for example, in Jewish sources about King David, and in Persian folklore about the Mongolian warlord Tamerlane and an ant.[34]

The Bruce in fiction

  • The revolt of Robert the Bruce is the topic of Mollie Hunter's 1998 book The King's Swift Rider, written from the point of view of a bold young Scot and future monk who joins the rebellion as a noncombatant.
  • In the 1995 film Braveheart, Robert the Bruce is portrayed by Scottish actor Angus Macfadyen. The film incorrectly showed him taking the field at Falkirk as part of the English army; he never betrayed William Wallace (despite having changed sides). Wallace is also alleged to have been a complete supporter of Robert the Bruce, but Wallace was a supporter of the Balliol claim to the throne which Bruce consistently opposed.
  • Scottish author Nigel Tranter wrote a trilogy, considered largely accurate, based on the life of King Robert: Robert the Bruce: The Steps to the Empty Throne; Robert the Bruce: The Path of the Hero King; and Robert the Bruce: The Price of the King's Peace. This has also been published in one volume as The Bruce Trilogy.
  • Chronicles of the reign of Robert the Bruce (or Robert de Brus) are published in a series titled Rebel King, Hammer of the Scots (2002); Rebel King, The Har'ships (2004); and Rebel King, Bannok Burn (2006). Two more volumes are planned. Historical fiction, but very close to Scottish history, this most comprehensive series on Robert's reign starts in January 1306 and will carry through Robert's death in 1329.
  • Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris wrote a fantasy fiction series(The Temple and the Stone and The Temple and the Crown) linking Robert the Bruce with the Knights Templar.
  • The 1996 concept album of the German power metal band Grave Digger,Tunes of War includes a song named The Bruce.The whole album is about the Scottish struggles for independence from England.
  • The third volume of Jack Whyte's Templar Trilogy called "Order in Chaos" is largely set in Scotland during the rise of The Bruce. It winds up its story just after the battle at Bannockburn. It covers a lot of the challenges and politics of that era.


  1. ^ a b Robert's absolution for Comyn’s murder, in 1310, gives Robert as a layman of Carrick, indicating Carrick / Turnberry was either his primary residence, or place of birth. Lochmaben has a claim, as a possession of the Bruce family, but is not supported by a medieval source. The contemporary claims of Essex / the Bruce estate at Writtle Essex, during the coronation of Edward, have been discounted by G. W. S. Barrow.
  2. ^ Robert The Bruce. Publisher: Heinemann. ISBN 0-431-05883-0
  3. ^ “Robert the Bruce's family was Norman, and can be traced back to Brieux in Orne, France”.
  4. ^ a b G. W. S. Barrow,Robert Bruce: and the community of the realm of Scotland (4th edition ed.), p. 34 :- "This was indeed a marriage of Celtic with Anglo-Norman Scotland, though hardly in the protagonists themselves, since Majorie was descended from Henry I, her husband from Malcom Canmore. But Annandale was settled by people of English, or Anglo-Scandinavian speech, and thoroughly feudalized. Carrick was historically an integral part of Galloway, and though the earls had achieved some feudalization, the society of Carrick at the end of the 13th century remained emphatically Celtic."
  5. ^ Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families By Douglas Richardson, Kimball G. Everingham
  6. ^ King Robert the Bruce By A. F. Murison
  7. ^ Geoffrey le Baker's: Chronicon Galfridi le Baker de Swynebroke, ed. Edward Maunde Thompson (Oxford, 1889)
  8. ^ Scottish Kings 1005 - 1625, by Sir Archibald H Dunbar, Bt., Edinburgh, 1899, p.127, where Robert the Bruce's birthplace is given "at Writtle, near Chelmsford in Essex, on the 11th July 1274". Baker, cited above, is also mentioned with other authorities.
  9. ^ Scott, Robert the Bruce, p 29.
  10. ^ Fordun, Scotichronicon, p 309
  11. ^ Scott, Robert the Bruce, p 72.
  12. ^ Fordun, Scotichronicon, p 330; Barbour, The Bruce, p 13.
  13. ^ Ronald McNair Scott (1988). Robert the Bruce, King of Scots. Canongate: p.72
  14. ^ Barbour, The Bruce, p 15.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Scott, Robert the Bruce, p 74
  17. ^ The History Channel 17 May 2006
  18. ^ Scott, Robert the Bruce, p 75
  19. ^ Scott, RonaldMcNair, Robert the Bruce, pp 84-85
  20. ^ Scott, Robert the Bruce, pp 84-85.
  21. ^ Barrow, Geoffrey Wallis Stuart (2005). Robert Bruce : and the community of the realm of Scotland (4th edition ed.). Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0748620222. . (Retrieved from Google Books)
  22. ^ Remonstrance of the Irish Chiefs to Pope John XXII, p.46
  23. ^ The Annals of Connacht
  24. ^ The exact location is uncertain and it may not have been very near the modern village of Cardross, although it was probably in Cardross Parish. Barrow suggests that it was at present-day Mains of Cardross farm on the outskirts of Dumbarton, beside the River Leven.[1]
  25. ^ Kaufman MH, MacLennan WJ (2001-04-01). "Robert the Bruce and Leprosy". History of Dentistry Research Newsletter. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  26. ^ a b Burial Honors Robert the Bruce
  27. ^ "Melrose Abbey". Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  28. ^ Lauder-Frost, Gregory, FSA Scot,Darr Some Descendants of Robert the Bruce, in The Scottish Genealogist, vol. LI, No.2, June 2004: 49-58, ISSN 0300-337X
  29. ^ John McCain, veteran war hero: yes. But a descendant of Robert the Bruce? Baloney
  30. ^ "Dunfermline Abbey History". The Church of Scotland. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  31. ^ "Clydesdale 1 Pound obverse, 1982". Ron Wise's Banknoteworld. Retrieved 2008-10-20. ; "Clydesdale 1 Pound reverse, 1982". Ron Wise's Banknoteworld. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  32. ^ "Current Banknotes : Clydesdale Bank". The Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  33. ^ "McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 aircraft". Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  34. ^ - Uzbekistan, Shakhrisabz


  • Barrow, G.W.S., Robert Bruce & the Community of the Realm of Scotland
  • Bartlett, Robert, The Making of Europe, Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change: 950-1350
  • Bingham, Charlotte. Robert the Bruce (1998)
  • Brown, Chris, Robert the Bruce. A Life Chronicled
  • Brown, Chris, "Bannockburn 1314" Stroud, 2008
  • Dunbar, Bt., Sir Archibald H., Scottish Kings 1005-1625, Edinburgh, 1899, pps: 126 -141, with copious original source materiéls.
  • Loudoun, Darren. Scotlands Brave 2007.
  • Macnamee, C., "The Wars of the Bruces"
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • Ó Néill, Domhnall, Remonstrance of the Irish Chiefs to Pope John XXII, (1317) at the CELT archive.
  • Nicholson, R., Scotland in the Later Middle Ages.
  • Geoffrey the Baker's: Chronicon Galfridi le Baker de Swynebroke, ed. Edward Maunde Thompson (Oxford, 1889)

External links

House of Bruce

Robert I of Scotland
Born: 11 July 1274 Died: 7 June 1329
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Earl of Carrick
1292 – 1314
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Robert VI de Brus
Lord of Annandale
1304 – 1312
Succeeded by
Thomas Randolph
Title last held by
King of Scots
1306 – 1329
Succeeded by
David II

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ROBERT I., "THE Bruce" (1274-1329), king of Scotland, was the son of the 7th Robert de Bruce, earl of Carrick by right of his wife Marjorie, daughter of Niel, or Nigel, earl of Carrick, and was the eighth in direct male descent from a Norman baron who came to England with William the Conqueror. After the death of Margaret, the "maid of Norway," in 1290, Bruce's grandfather, the 6th Robert de Bruce, lord of Annandale, claimed the crown of Scotland as the son of Isabella, the second daughter of David, earl of Huntingdon, and greatgranddaughter of King David I.; but John de Baliol, grandson of Margaret, the eldest daughter of Earl David, was preferred by the commissioners of Edward I.

The birthplace of Bruce is not certainly known, but was probably Turnberry, his mother's castle on the coast of Ayr. The date is the 11th of July 127 4. His youth is said by an English chronicler to have been passed at the court of Edward I. At an age when the mind is quick to receive the impressions which give the bent to life he must have watched the progress of the great suit for the crown of Scotland. Its issue in 1292 in favour of Baliol led his grandfather to resign Annandale to his son, the 7th Robert de Bruce, who either then or after the death of his father in 1295 assumed the title of lord of Annandale. Already on his wife's death in 1292 he had resigned the earldom of Carrick to his son, the future king, who presented the deed of resignation to Baliol at Stirling in August 1293, and offered the homage which his father, like his grandfather, was unwilling to render. Feudal law required that the king should take seisin of the earldom before regranting it and receiving the homage, and the sheriff of Ayr was directed to take it on Baliol's behalf. As the disputes between Edward I. of England and Baliol, which ended in Baliol losing his kingdom, commenced in this year, it is doubtful whether Bruce ever rendered homage; but he is henceforth known as earl of Carrick, though in a few instances this title is still given to his father. Both father and son sided with Edward against Baliol. In April 12 9 4 the younger Bruce had permission to visit Ireland for a year and a half, and as a further mark of Edward's favour a respite of all debts owing by him to the exchequer.

In August 1296 Bruce and his father swore fealty to Edward I. at Berwick, but in breach of this oath, which had been renewed.

at Carlisle, the younger Robert joined Sir William Wallace, who raised the standard of Scottish independence in the name of Baliol after that king had surrendered his kingdom to Edward in 1296. Urgent letters were sent ordering Bruce to support John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, Edward's general, in the summer of 1297; but, instead of complying, he assisted to lay waste the lands of those who adhered to Edward. On the 7th of July Bruce and his friends were forced to make terms by a treaty called the capitulation of Irvine. The Scottish lords were not to serve beyond the sea against their will, and were pardoned for their recent violence, in return owning allegiance to Edward. The bishop of Glasgow, James the steward, and Sir Alexander Lindesay became sureties for Bruce until he delivered his daughter Marjorie as a hostage. Wallace almost alone maintained the struggle for freedom which the nobles, as well as Baliol, had given up, and Bruce had no part in the honour of Stirling Bridge in September 1297, or the reverse of Falkirk, where in July 1298 Edward in person recovered what his generals had lost, and drove Wallace into exile. Shortly afterwards Bruce appears again to have sided with his countrymen; Annandale was wasted, while he, as Walter of Hemingford says, "when he heard of the king's coming, fled from his face and burnt the castle of Ayr which he held." Yet, when Edward was forced by home affairs to quit Scotland, Annandale and certain earldoms, including Carrick, were excepted from the districts he assigned to his followers, Bruce and other earls being treated as waverers whose allegiance might still be retained. About 1299 a regency was appointed in Scotland in the name of Baliol, and a letter of Baliol mentions Robert Bruce, lord of Carrick, as regent, along with William of Lamberton, bishop of St Andrews, and John Comyn the younger, a strange combination - Lamberton the friend of Wallace, Comyn the enemy of Bruce, and Bruce a regent in name of Baliol. Comyn in his own interest as Baliol's nephew and heir was the active regent; the insertion of the name of Bruce was an attempt to secure his co-operation. For the next four years he kept studiously in the background, waiting his time. A statement of Peter Langtoft that he was at the parliament of Lincoln in 1301, when the English barons repudiated the claim of Pope Boniface VIII. to the suzerainty of Scotland, is not to be credited, though his father may have been there. In the campaign of 1304, when Edward renewed his attempt on Scotland and reduced Stirling, Bruce supported the English king, who in one of his letters to him says, "If you complete that which you have begun, we shall hold the war ended by your deed and all the land of Scotland gained." But, while apparently aiding Edward, Bruce had taken a step which bound him to the patriotic cause. On the 11th of June, five weeks before the fall of Stirling, he met Lamberton at Cambuskenneth and entered into a secret bond by which they were to support each other against all adversaries and undertake nothing without consulting together. The death of his father in 1304 may have determined his course, and led him to prefer the chance of the Scottish crown to his English estates and the friendship of Edward.

This determination closes the first chapter of his life; the second, from 1304 to 1314, is occupied by his contest for the kingdom, which was really won at Bannockburn, though disputed until the treaty of Northampton in 1328; the last, from 1314 to his death in 1329, was the period of the establishment of his government and dynasty by an administration as skilful as his generalship. It is to the second of these that historians, attracted by its brilliancy even amongst the many romances of history and its importance to Scottish history, have directed most of their attention, and it is during it that his personal character, tried by adversity and prosperity, gradually unfolds itself. But all three periods require to be kept in view to form a just estimate of Bruce. That which terminated in 1304, though unfortunately few characteristics, personal or individual, have been preserved, shows him by his conduct to have been the normal Scottish noble of the time. A conflict of interest and of bias led to contradictory action, and this conflict was increased in his case by his father's residence in England, his own upbringing at the English court, his family feud with Baliol and the Comyns, and the jealousy common to his class of Wallace, the mere knight, who had rallied the commons against the invader and taught the nobles what was required in a leader of the people. The merit of Bruce is that he did not despise the lesson. Prompted alike by patriotism and ambition, at the prime of manhood he chose the cause of national independence with all its perils, and stood by it with an unwavering constancy until he secured its triumph. Though it is crowded with incident, the main facts in the central decade of Bruce's life may be rapidly told. The fall of Stirling was followed by the capture and execution of Wallace in London in August 1305. Edward hoped still to conciliate the nobles and gain Scotland by a policy of clemency to all who did not dispute his authority. A parliament in London in September 1305 to which Scottish representatives were summoned, agreed to an ordinance for the government of Scotland, which, though on the model of those for Wales and Ireland, treating Scotland as a third subject province under an English lieutenant, was in other respects not severe. Bruce is reputed to have been one of the advisers who assisted in framing it; but a provision that his castle of Kildrummy was to be placed in charge of a person for whom he should answer shows that Edward, not without reason, suspected his fidelity. The details of his final breach with the English king are somewhat obscure. According to one account, the bond between Bruce and Lamberton was revealed to Edward by Comyn while Bruce was at the English court. Alarmed by a hint dropped by Edward, he left England secretly, and in the church of the Friars Minorite at Dumfries on the 10th of -February 1306 met Comyn, whom he slew before the high altar for refusing to join in his plans. So much is certain, though the precise incidents of the interview are variously told. It was not their first encounter, for a letter of 1299 to Edward from Scotland describes Comyn as having seized Bruce by the throat at a meeting at Peebles, where they were with difficulty reconciled by the regents.

The bond with Lamberton was now sealed by blood, and the confederates lost no time in putting it into execution. Within little more than six weeks Bruce, collecting his adherents in the south-west, passed from Lochmaben to Glasgow and thence to Scone, where he was crowned king of Scotland on the 27th of March 1306. Two days later Isabella, countess of Buchan, claimed the right of her family, the Macduffs, earls of Fife, to place the Scottish king on his throne, and the ceremony was repeated with an addition flattering to the Celtic race. Though a king, Bruce had not yet a kingdom, and his efforts to obtain it were disastrous failures until after the death of Edward I. In June 1306 he was defeated at Methven, and on the 11th of August he was surprised in Strathfillan, where he had taken refuge. The ladies of his family were sent to Kildrummy in January 1307, and Bruce, almost without a follower, fled to the island of Rathlin. Edward came to the north in the following spring. On his way he granted the Scottish estates of Bruce and his adherents to his own followers, Annandale falling to Humphrey de Bohun, 4th earl of Hereford. At Carlisle there was published a bull excommunicating Bruce; and Elizabeth his wife, Marjorie his daughter, and Christina his sister, were captured in a sanctuary at Tain, while three of his brothers were executed. In a moment all was changed by the death of Edward I. on the 7th of July 1307. Instead of being opposed to the greatest, Bruce had now as his antagonist the feeblest of the Plantagenets. Quitting Rathlin, he had made a short stay in Arran, and before Edward's death had failed to take Ayr and Turnberry, although he defeated Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, at Loudoun Hill in May 1306. After wasting the critical moment of the war in the diversions of court life, the new English king, Edward II., made an inglorious march to Cumnock and back without striking a blow; and then returned south, leaving the war to a succession of generals. Bruce, with the insight of military genius, seized his opportunity. Leaving Edward, now his only brother in blood and almost his equal in arms, in Galloway, he suddenly transferred his own operations to Aberdeenshire. He overran Buchan either once or twice, and after a serious illness defeated the earl of Buchan, one of his chief Scottish opponents, near Inverurie on the 22nd of May 1308. Then crossing to Argyllshire he surprised another body of his enemies in the pass of Brander early in 1309, took Dunstaffnage, and in March of this year held his first parliament at St Andrews. In 1309 a truce scarcely kept was effected by Pope Clement V. and Philip IV. of France, and in 1310, in a general council at Dundee, the clergy of Scotland, all the bishops being present, recognized Bruce as king. The support given to him by the national church in spite of his excommunication must have been of great importance in that age, and was probably due to the example of Lamberton. The next three years was signalized by the reduction one by one of the strong places still held by the English: Linlithgow towards the end of 1310, Dumbarton in October 1311, Perth, by Bruce himself, in January 1312. Previous to these two latter successes the king had made two raids into the north of England; after which Buittle, Dalswinton and Dumfries were reduced, and Berwick was threatened. In March 1313 his lieutenant Sir James Douglas surprised Roxburgh, and Thomas Randolph surprised Edinburgh. In May Bruce was again in England, and though he failed to take Carlisle, he subdued the Isle of Man. About the same time Edward Bruce took Rutherglen and laid siege to Stirling, whose governor, Sir Philip de Mowbray, agreed to capitulate if not relieved before the 24th of June 1314.

Bruce's rapidity of movement was one cause of his success. His sieges, the most difficult part of medieval warfare, though won sometimes by stratagem, prove that he and his followers had benefited from their early training in the wars of Edward I. We know that he had been employed by that king to prepare the siege-train for his attack on Stirling in 1304. By the close of 1313 Berwick, Stirling and Bothwell alone remained English. Edward II. felt that if Scotland was not to be lost a great effort must be made. With the whole available feudal levy of England, and a contingent from Ireland, he advanced from Berwick to Falkirk, which he reached on the 22nd of June 1314. After a preliminary skirmish on Sunday the 23rd, in which Bruce distinguished himself by a personal combat with Sir Henry de Bohun, whom he felled by a single blow of his axe, the battle of Bannockburn was fought on Monday the 24th; and the complete rout of the English determined the independence of Scotland and confirmed the title of Bruce. The details of the day, memorable in the history of war as well as of Scotland, have been singularly well preserved, and redound to the credit of Bruce, who had studied in the school of Wallace as well as in that of Edward I. He had chosen and knew his ground, lying between St Ninians and the Bannock, a petty burn, yet sufficient to produce marshes dangerous to heavily armed horsemen, while from the rising ground on his right the enemy's advance was seen. His troops were in four divisions: his brother Edward commanded the right, Randolph the centre, Douglas the left. Bruce with the reserve planted his standard at the Bore Stone, whence there is the best view of the field. His camp-followers on the Gillies' Hill appeared over its crest at the critical moment which comes in all battles. The plain on the right of the marshes was prepared with pits and spikes. But what more than any other point of strategy made the fight famous was that the Scots fought on foot in battalions with their spears outwards, in a circular formation serving the same purpose as the modern square. A momentary success of the English archers was quickly reversed by a flank movement on the part of Sir Robert Keith. The Scottish bowmen followed up this advantage, and the fight became general; the English horse, crowded into too narrow a space, were met by the steady resistance of the Scottish pikemen, who knew, as Bruce had told them truly, that they fought for their country, their wives, their children, and all that freemen hold dear. The English rear was either unable to come up in the narrow space, or got entangled in the broken ranks of the van. The first repulse soon passed into a rout, and from a rout into a headlong flight, in which the English king himself barely escaped. In the career of Bruce, Bannockburn was the turning-point. The enthusiasm of the nation he had saved forgot his tardy adhesion to the popular cause, and at the parliament of Ayr on the 25th of April 1315 the succession was settled by a unanimous voice on him, and, failing males of his body, on his brother Edward and his heirs male, or failing them on his daughter Marjorie and her heirs, if she married with his consent. Soon afterwards she married Walter the steward (d. 1326). As a result of Bannockburn, Bruce's queen was restored to her husband; Stirling was delivered up to the Scots; the north of England was ravaged, and Carlisle and Berwick were besieged.

The last part of Bruce's life, from 1315 to 1329, began with an attempt which was the most striking testimony that could have been given to the effect of Bannockburn, and which, had it succeeded, might have altered the future of the British Isles. This was no less than the rising of the whole Celtic race, who had felt the galling yoke of Edward I. and envied the freedom the Scots had won. In 1315 Edward Bruce crossed to Ireland on the invitation of the natives, and in the following year the Welsh became his allies. In the autumn of 1316 Robert came to his brother, and together they traversed Ireland to Limerick. Dublin was saved by its inhabitants committing it to the flames, and, though nineteen victories were won, of which that at Slane in Louth by Robert was counted the chief, the success was too rapid to be permanent. The brothers retreated to Ulster, and, Robert having left Ireland in May 1317 to protect his own borders, Edward, who had been crowned king of Ireland, was defeated and killed at Dundalk in October 1318. On his return Bruce addressed himself to the siege of Berwick, a standing menace to Scotland. While he was preparing for it two cardinals arrived in England with a mission from Pope John XXII. to effect a truce, or, failing that, to renew the excommunication of Bruce. The cardinals did not trust themselves across the border; their messengers, however, were courteously received by Bruce, but with a firm refusal to admit the papal bulls into his kingdom because not addressed to him as king. Another attempt by Adam Newton, guardian of the Friars Minorite at Berwick, had a more ignominious result. Bruce admitted Newton to his presence at Aldcamus or Old Cambus, and informed him that he would not receive the bulls until his title was acknowledged and he had taken Berwick. On his return Newton was waylaid and his papers seized, not without suspicion of Bruce's connivance. In March 1318 the town and soon afterwards the castle of Berwick capitulated, and Bruce wasted the English border as far as Ripon. In December he held a parliament at Scone, where he displayed the same wisdom as a legislator which he had shown as a general. The death of his brother and his daughter rendered a resettlement of the crown advisable, and it was settled on his grandson, Robert, son of Marjorie and Walter the steward, in case Bruce died without sons, with a provision as to the regency in case of a minor heir in favour of Randolph. The defence of the country was next cared for by regulations for the arming of the whole nation, down to every one who owned the value of a cow, a measure far in advance of the old feudal levy. Exports during war, and of arms at any time, were prohibited. Internal justice was regulated, and it was declared that it was to be done to poor and rich alike. Leasing-making - a Scottish term for seditious language - was to be sternly punished. The nobles were exhorted not to oppress the commons. Reforms were also made in the tedious technicalities of the feudal law. In September 1319 an attempt to recover Berwick was repelled by Walter the steward, and Bruce took occasion of a visit to compliment his son-in-law and raise the walls 10 ft.

The king's position was now so strong that foreign states began to testify their respect. Bruges and Ypres rejected a request of Edward II. to cut off the Scottish trade with Flanders. Pope John, who had excommunicated Bruce, was addressed by the parliament of Arbroath in April 1320 in a letter which compared Bruce to a Joshua or Judas Maccabaeus, who had wrought the salvation of his people, and declared they fought "not for glory, truth or honour, but for that liberty which no virtuous man will survive." Moved by this language and conscious of the weakness of Edward, the pope exhorted him to make peace with Scotland, and three years later Randolph, now earl of Moray, procured the recognition of Bruce as king from the papal see by promising aid for a crusade. In 1326 the French king, Charles IV., made a similar acknowledgment by the treaty of Corbeil. Meantime hostilities more car less constant continued with England, but, though in 1322 Edward made an incursion as far as Edinburgh, the internal weakness of his government prevented his gaining any real success, while in October of this year Bruce again ravaged Yorkshire, defeated the English near Byland, and almost captured their king. Some of his chief nobles - Thomas, earl of Lancaster, in 1321, and Sir Andrew Harclay, earl of Carlisle, in 1322 - entered into correspondence with the Scots, and, though Harclay's treason was detected and punished by his death, Edward was forced to make a truce of thirteen years at Newcastle on the 30th of May 1323, which Bruce ratified at Berwick. In 1327 Edward III. became king of England, and one of the first acts of the new reign, after a narrow escape of the young king from capture by Moray, was the treaty of York, ratified at Northampton in April 1328, by which it was agreed that "Scotland, according to its ancient bounds in the days of Alexander III., should remain to Robert, king of Scots, and his heirs free and divided from England, without any subjection, servitude, claim or demand whatsoever." Joanna, Edward's sister, was to be given in marriage to David, the infant son of Bruce, born subsequent to the settlement of 1318 and now recognized as heir to the crown, and the ceremony was celebrated at Berwick on the 12th of July 1328.

The chief author of Scottish independence barely survived his work. He appears to have conducted an expedition to Ireland in 1327, and on his return led a foray into England. His last years were chiefly spent at the castle of Cardross on the Clyde, which he acquired in 1326, and the conduct of war, as well as the negotiations for peace, had been left to the young leaders, Moray and Sir James Douglas, whose training was one of Bruce's services to his country. Ever active, he employed himself in the narrower sphere of repairing the castle and improving its domains and gardens, in shipbuilding on the Clyde, and in the exercise of the virtues of hospitality and charity. The religious feeling, which had not been absent even during the struggles of manhood, deepened in old age, and took the form the piety of the times prescribed. He made careful provision for his funeral, his tomb, and masses for his soul. He procured from the pope a bull authorizing his confessor to absolve him even at the moment of death. He died at Cardross from leprosy, contracted in the hardships of earlier life, on the 7th of June 1329, and was buried at Dunfermline beside his second wife, Elizabeth (d. 1327), daughter of Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster, whom he had married about 1304, and who bore him late his only son, David, who succeeded him. Of two surviving daughters, Matilda married Thomas Ysaak, a simple esquire, and Margaret became the wife of William, earl of Sutherland. Marjorie, an only child by his first wife, Isabella, daughter of Donald, earl of Mar, had predeceased him. Several children not born in wedlock have been traced in the records, but none of them became in any way famous.

In fulfilment of a vow to visit the Holy Sepulchre, which he could not accomplish in person, Bruce requested Douglas to carry his heart there, but his faithful follower perished on the way, fighting in Spain against the Moors, and the heart of Bruce, recovered by Sir William Keith, found its resting-place at Melrose. When his corpse was disinterred in 1821 the breast-bone was found severed to admit of the removal of the heart, thus confirming the story preserved in the verses of Barbour. That national poet collected in the earliest Scottish poem, written in the reign of Bruce's grandson, the copious traditions which clustered round his memory. It is a panegyric; but history has not refused to accept it as a genuine representation of the character of the great king, in spirit, if not in every detail. Its dominant note is freedom - the liberty of the nation from foreign bondage, and of the individual from oppression. It is the same note which Tacitus embodied in the speech of Galgacus at the dawn of Scottish history. Often as it has been heard before and since in the course of history, seldom has it had a more illustrious champion than Robert the Bruce.

Bibliography. - The chief contemporary authorities for the life of Bruce are coloured to some extent by the nationality of the writers. On the Scottish side The BMus, a poem by John Barbour, edited by W. W. Skeat (Edinburgh, 1894), and the Chronica gentis Scotorum of John of Fordun, edited by W. F. Skene (Edinburgh, 1871-72), are perhaps the most valuable. The Chronicon de Lanercost, edited by J. Stevenson (Edinburgh, 1839), is also very important. The English chronicles which may be consulted with advantage are those of Walter of Hemingford, edited by H. C. Hamilton (London, 18 4 8 -49); and of Peter Langtoft, edited by T. Wright (London, 1866-68), and the Scalacronica of Thomas Gray, edited by J. Stevenson (Edinburgh, 1836). For the documents of the time reference should be made to the Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, edited by J. Bain (Edinburgh, 1881-88), Documents and Records illustrating the History of Scotland, vol. i., edited by F. Palgrave (London, 1837); the Rotuli Scotiae (London, 1814-19), and the Foedera of T. Rymer, vol. i. (London, 1704). The chief general histories are: Sir D. Dalrymple, Lord Hailes, Annals of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1819); P. F. Tytler, History of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1841-43); J. H. Burton, History of Scotland, vol. ii. (Edinburgh, 1905); A. Lang, History of Scotland, vol. i. (Edinburgh, 1904); R. Pauli, Geschichte von England (Hamburg, 1834-58). See also Sir H. Maxwell, Robert the Bruce (London, 1897).

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Robert II Of Scotland >>

Simple English

Robert I of Scotland
King of the Scots
Reign 1306–1329
Coronation 25 March, 1306
Full name Robert de Brus
Gaelic Roibert a Briuis
Middle English Robert the Bruys
Titles Earl of Carrick (ca 1292—1314), Lord of Annandale (1304—1312)
Born 11 July 1274(1274-07-11)
Birthplace Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland, [1]
Died June 7, 1329 (aged 54)
Place of death Cardross
Buried Dunfermline Abbey (Body) -- Melrose Abbey (Heart)
Predecessor John
Successor David II
Consort i) Isabella of Mar
ii) Elizabeth de Burgh
Offspring Marjorie Bruce with Isabella, David, John, Matilda and Margaret with Elizabeth and several illegitimate children
Royal House Bruce
Father Robert de Brus, 6th Lord of Annandale
Mother Marjorie of Carrick

Robert I of Scotland (July 11, 1274June 7, 1329) is better known as Robert the Bruce. He was King of Scotland (1306 – 1329). He is famous for beating the English army at the Battle of Bannockburn near Stirling in 1314.

Robert the Bruce's family originally came from France. They were from a place called Brus in Normandy, which is in the northern part of France. The family came to Scotland and became powerful lords.

In 1286, King Alexander III of Scotland died. His granddaughter was supposed to become Queen of Scotland, but she died too. In 1292 the Bruce family and another family called the Balliols (BAY-lee-ols) asked King Edward I of England to decide who would become the new king. The Bruce family lost.

In 1292 Robert's family decided that he should be the head of all the Bruces. Robert started planning to become King of Scotland. In 1297, King Edward I of England tried to make Scotland go to war against France with him. Many Scottish lords, including Robert the Bruce, said no, and began to fight. Edward won most of the battles, and Robert ended up doing what Edward wanted.

In 1307, Robert the Bruce met a man called John Comyn (KOHM-in) in a church. John Comyn also wanted to be king of Scotland. They had an argument and Robert killed John. Soon after, Robert went to a place called Scone (skoon), and the Scottish lords brought out the royal clothes that they had hidden from the English. Then Robert was crowned King of Scots.

Robert the Bruce then fought a lot of battles to make Scotland free instead of always doing what the English king wanted. He fought King Edward I, and then his son, King Edward II. In 1314, King Robert the Bruce's army had a battle with King Edward II's army at a place called Bannockburn. Robert won the battle.

In 1315, Robert the Bruce sent his army to Ireland. At that time the English were in control of Ireland. Robert fought with them and made his brother, Edward Bruce, High King of Ireland in 1316. The Scottish army did not treat the Irish people well, and they were forced to leave after Edward Bruce was killed in 1318.

On June 7th, 1329, Robert the Bruce died. He still felt sorry for killing John Comyn in a church, so he asked his friend Sir James Douglas to cut out his heart and carry it into battle in Spain. Robert the Bruce's body is buried in Dunfermline Abbey, while his heart is buried in Melrose Abbey.


  1. Robert The Bruce. Publisher: Heinemann. ISBN 0-431-05883-0


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