Heritage and Culture

Robert the Bruce

Robert the Bruce
By Sophie

Today marks the birthday of Robert the Bruce, who was King of Scots in the 1300s. Born into an aristocratic Scottish family, Bruce's father was distantly related to the Scottish royal family. His mother had Gaelic antecedents and his grandfather was one of the claimants to the Scottish throne during a succession dispute in 1290 - 1292. It was only a matter of time before Bruce would come to take the throne for himself.

From 1296, Scotland was without a monarch. For 10 years it was ruled by King Edward I of England and as the Scots national resistance developed into a war of independence, William Wallace and then Robert the Bruce came to play a leading role. Winning a victory over the English at the battle of Sterling, in 1279, Wallace claimed himself the guardian of Scotland. When Edward invaded the following year, the Scots were less successful, and Wallace went in to hiding. Later he was tried and hung in London.

1298 is when our story gets interesting. Robert the Bruce had observed the on-going war for Scottish independence and finally decided to take a stand. Bruce quarreled with his rival Comyn and famously stabbed him in a church in Dumfries.

He was outlawed by Edward and excommunicated by the pope. Bruce then proclaimed his right to the throne and on 27 March was crowned king at Scone.

When Edward I died, Bruce's claim for an independent Scotland became an easier mission. Setting out to remove any English control from Scotland, by early 1314, Stirling was the only castle left under English rule. Fearing for the future union, an English army was sent to break the siege and was routed by Bruce's smaller Scottish force at Bannockburn in June, in 1314.

In 1320, after the passing of six years, Bruce and the Scottish nobles issued the Declaration of Arbroath, which asserted Scottish Independence.

'For as longs as one hundred of us shall remain alive we shall never in any wise consent to submit to the rule of the English, for it is not for glory that we fight... but for freedom alone'.

A truce with Edward II of England, unfortunately failed to stop hostilities which continued until Edward II's deposition in 1327.

A Treaty of Edinburgh, between Robert I and Edward III in 1328, recognised Scotland's independence. Finally ending the 30 years of Wars of Independence, Edward then agreed to the marry Bruce's son David to his younger sister Joan.

A year later Robert the Bruce died at his house in Cardross. Some suspect it was of leprosy.