Robert the Bruce

I read the headlines about Robert the Bruce yesterday with interest.  It is amazing to be able to see exactly what people form the past looked like.  My hubby saw the picture of him and said he looked like a typical Glaswegian !!

I find it very interesting how these scientists can add to a skull and create a face.  I saw the Richard III face at the visitor centre and thought it a little spooky to be looking into such a realistic visage.

Something that puzzled me is the second image that the University released, alledgedly showing the Scottish King with a leprosy damaged face.

The rumour about him having leprosy has been mentioned in articles before, but I am really struggling to find any solid, credible evidence that he actually had the disease.  Which led me to wonder, is this rumour simply English propaganda from medieval times, designed to blacken the name of the King who had beaten them at Bannockburn??

It is not unusual to find that history is altered by one side or another, in order to make their enemies seem unlikable, think of the Tudor propaganda against Richard III.

At the time he was King, leprosy was a highly feared disease among the populace.  If the King had in reality been suffering from it, there would be evidence that his nobles and people in general avoided being anywhere near him.  There is proof that he was ill, a number of times in his later reign he was said to have been so, but leprosy is not the only possible reason for this.  A simple skin condition could account for the reported facial issue, such as exczema or psoriasis.  Nowadays these conditions are easily diagnosable but in those days, they could be seen as a symptom of something worse.  The other reported symptoms could have been TB, cancer or lupus, for instance, among other possibilities.

Leprosy was an easily contractable illness, which Robert would have been aware of if he had been diagnosed with it.  Shortly before his death, he visited his young bride and family, including his heir.  Would he have put them at the risk of catching a disease which, at the time, was an almost certain death sentence?  I think not.

King Robert I fought hard to remove the overlordship of the English against the Scots, and won, in the main.  He was determined that Scotland should not be enveloped by it’s neighbour.  The orginal independence campaigner !!

He managed to gain the throne as Scotland’s King in 1306, and it remained a separate kingdom to England until 1603.  England ran out of legitimate direct heirs and had to look to Scotland to provide them with a monarch, bringing King James VI of Scotland to London as James I.  This should have given Scotland greater influence, but James was keen to be seen as the English monarch more than the Scottish one, England being the richer of the countries at that time.

He gave up the sovereignty of his home country, that Robert had fought so hard to retain, centuries earlier.

Will we ever see separate countries on this island again??  Time will tell.  For now, we can look upon the newly recreated face of one of the greatest ever Scotsmen and wonder.


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