It is the anniversary of the death of one of Scotland’s most famous Kings today, so as I live in Scotland, I thought I should say something about him.
It is said he was born at Turnberry in Ayrshire, but this cannot be verified, in the year 1274. He was the first son to his parents Robert and Marjorie. His father carried the title of Lord of Annandale and could trace his family back to King David of Scotland.
When King Alexander died, his only direct heir was a girl of three years old called Margaret. She herself died at the age of seven and a dispute on the legal succession to the crown ensued.
Edward I of england was called upon to help judge which claimant had the best right to the throne, and he saw a chance to place a puppet there. He selected John Baliol, a distant cousin of his own and a distant claimant. Of course, there was much opposition to this choice as others appeared to have better claims, including Robert’s father.
Enter the famous William Wallace and his uprising in the central Scotland areas. It is said that Robert fought with William Wallace in this uprising, fighting for his families’ cause.
Baliol was removed from the throne and exiled, the ruling of the country being taken over by seven nobles who each had a reasonable claim to the throne. Robert was one of these along with a man called Comyn. These two argued in a church, which resulted in the stabbing to death of Comyn, though it is unclear whether Bruce actually did the stabbing. Bruce was removed from the governance of the country for this, though.
This enraged Bruce and he made his way to Scone, the traditional crowning place for Scottish Kings and had his right to be King declared by an Archbishop who was a staunch supporter of his. This was in 1306.
Edward sent an army north to show his authority and succeeded in beating Bruce on a number of occasions, and capturing his family, who were treated very roughly. His brothers were executed and the Archbishop who had crowned Bruce was imprisoned in England.
It took him until 1314 to start beating the English back and the famous win for the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn proved a turning point for him. He began to win support from the Scots nobles, which annoyed Edward of England, who still claimed to be the overlord of the Scots.
By 1326, the Pope had declared Scotland to be an independent kingdom, with Bruce as it’s King, but it was not until 1328 that England finally agreed to the fact of Scotland being it’s own country. A marriage between Robert’s heir and a daughter of the King was arranged as part of the treaty, though most English people thought this was below the King’s daughter at the time.
He was ill even at this time, but he had achieved his dream of the Scottish crown. He died the following year 1329 on the 7th June. He was buried at Dunfermline Abbey, though his heart was said to have been removed and eventually buried at Melrose Abbey, though it was later removed back to Dunfermline with the rest of his remains.
He fought many years to gain the right to be called King of Scotland, how many years will the SNP fight to gain recognition of Scotland as an independent country now????