Robert the Bruce, 1274 - 1329


Robert the Bruce 1274-1329

Robert the Bruce was also called Robert I or Robert VIII de Bruce. He was Earl of Carrick and King of Scotland.

Robert the Bruce was the king who brought Scotland independence from English rule for 300 years.

Although he received criticism for his original hesitation to show his allegiance, he later proved to be fully committed to the Scottish cause.

To this day, Robert the Bruce, alongside William Wallace and Sean Connery, are the celebrated heroes of the Scots.


Robert's Background

In 1290, the line of direct succession to the Scottish throne was interrupted. Robert's grandfather claimed the title but was not able to take the throne.

The last Scottish ruler was Margaret who died in 1290. Margaret was a great-niece of the ruling king Edward I of England. The latter found this sufficient grounds to declare himself sovereign of Scotland. He enthroned John de Balliol as his puppet king.

John soon found it impossible to comply with the English terms and finally revolted. At Dunbar, John's forces were defeated and he abdicated in favor of Edward I. More than 20 years of civil war followed.


Robert's Coronation and Early Years

In 1306, Robert murdered John Comyn, the nephew of John de Balliol. Having disposed of all other throne rivals, Robert was crowned Scottish king.

TRIVIA: 700 years have passed since Robert the Bruce did away with John Comyn. A moment of reflection. Read here.

For this slaughter, however, he was outlawed by Edward I and excommunicated by the pope. He suffered defeat at Methven and Dalry. His family and many of his supporters were captured and three of his brothers executed. Robert went underground and waged guerrilla warfare, recovering his kingdom piece by piece.

In 1307, Edward I died and was succeeded by his less competent son Edward II. By the year 1314 all of Scotland had been cleared of English troops, with the exception of Stirling Castle.


Battle of Bannockburn

The high point of the Scottish War of Independence and one of the most important battles in British history was the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

English troops advanced to relieve the garrison of Stirling. Scottish troops, approximately one third the size of the enemy, were in position, waiting.

By executing a brilliant strategy, Robert the Bruce not only won the battle for the Scots but also freedom from English rule.


Declaration of Arbroath

In 1320, Edward II still refused to acknowledge an independent Scotland. The Scottish nobles therefore drafted a letter to the pope, declaring that Robert I was their rightful monarch.

This letter is known as the Declaration of Arbroath and is important in Scottish history.

It reads,

“We gather from the deeds and books of the ancients, that among other distinguished nations our own nation, namely of Scots, has been marked by many distinctions.”

It further warns its king,

“Were he to desist from what he has undertaken and be willing to subject us or our kingdom to the king of the English or the English, we would strive to expel him forthwith as our enemy and as a subverter of right, his own and ours, and make someone else our king who is equal to the task of defending us."


Treaty of Northampton

It was not until 1328 that Edward III, son of Edward II, finally gave up all claims over the Scots by signing the Treaty of Northampton and hereby recognizing Robert I as king of the Scots.


Death and Burial of Robert the Bruce

Robert possibly died of leprosy. His dying wish was that after his death his chief deputy, Sir James Douglas, would carry his heart on crusade. James intended to fulfill this wish but unfortunately he was killed in battle.

Robert's heart is said to have been recovered and brought back to Scotland. Therefore, Robert's body lies in Dunfermline Abbey but his heart is buried in Melrose Abbey. Enjoy your meal.


Robert the Bruce Timeline

1274 July 11 - Birth at Turnberry Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland

1304 Robert's father dies

1306 Crowned King Robert I of Scotland

1306 Defeat at Methven and Tyndrum

1313 Capture of Perth

1314 Battle of Bannockburn

1318 Capture of Berwick

1327 Deposition of Edward II (son of Edward I)

1328 Treaty of Northampton

1329 June 7 - Death in Cardross, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Here is
Robert the Bruce in the stream of time.

And here is the map

The British Isles 1300
1300 British Isles






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