Robert the Bruce

King Robert the Bruce became one of Scotland’s greatest kings.  He was born on July 11, 1274 at Turnberry Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland.  He was the first son born to Robert de Brus and his wife, Marjorie.  Through his father he inherited a royal lineage to King David I, that would eventually lead to him becoming king.

When his mother died in 1292, the eighteen year old became Earl of Carrick.  Robert, his father and grandfather all sided with King Edward I of England, over the newly crowned John Balliol of Scotland.  In 1295, Robert married Isabella of Mar.  Legend states that the couple was very much in love.  The couple had a daughter, Marjorie {whose heirs began the Stewart dynasty}.  Isabella died on December 12, 1296.  

Bruce supported the revolt against King Edward in 1297.  Robert and John Comyn succeeded William Wallace as Guardian of Scotland within the year.  Robert and John soon became enemies.  By 1300, Robert had resigned as guardian.

Robert was a shrewd diplomat, when reading accounts of his fealty {allegiance} to King Edward and Scotland.  one would think that he couldn’t make up his mind in reading the accounts, but most likely he was doing whatever was necessary to keep himself and his family safe.

“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.”

        In 1302, Robert married Elizabeth de Burgh.  The couple had four children, three reaching adulthood.

Due to his supporting alternate English and Scottish loyalties, there was a lot of distrust in him.  He barely escaped arrest and imprisonment by King Edward.  Shortly thereafter, Robert and Comyn met in Dumfries.  The men came to blows and Robert Bruce killed his Comyn at the high altar of the Chapel of Greyfriars Monastery.  His hands were now bound and he had either become king or a fugitive.  Robert Bruce then made his claim on the empty Scottish crown.

Six weeks later he “was crowned King of Scots by Bishop William de Lamberton at Scone, near Perth on 25 March with all formality and solemnity.”

On June 19, 1306, the English army sieged Kildrummy Castle, where Queen Elizabeth, Lady Marjorie and Robert’s sisters were staying.  The women were then imprisoned under harsh conditions.  They were held prisoner for eight years.

With the death of Edward I, Robert the Bruce now had to fight his son, Edward II.

   On June 23, 1314 the Battle of Bannockburn took place.  Today this might be referred to as the War of Scottish Independence.  Robert Bruce and his army defeated the British, gaining Scottish independence.   In late November 1314, Queen Elizabeth, Lady Marjory and Robert’s sisters were released from imprisonment.

Scotland and England still had their ups and downs over the years.  In 1320 the Declaration of Arbroath was issued and recognized by the Pope.  Frequently quoted is this passage from that document, “…for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”   King Edward III signed the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton in May 1328, recognizing Scotland as an independent kingdom.

Robert’s daughter, Marjorie married Walter Stewart.  “On 2 March 1316, Marjorie went horse-riding near Paisley, Renfrewshire while heavily pregnant. Her horse was suddenly startled and threw her to the ground at a place called “The Knock.” She went into premature labour and delivered the child at Paisley Abbey, surviving the birth by a few hours at most.”Queen Elizabeth died on October 27, 1327. 

Robert died on June 7, 1329.  He’d always longed to go on a crusade and requested that his heart be taken on the journey.  His body is buried at Dunfermline Abbey.  “In accordance with Bruce’s written request, the heart was buried at Melrose Abbey in Roxburghshire.”

Robert Bruce has a number of descendants.  All of the Kings of Scotland following him, are his descendants.  Upon the Union of Crowns in 1603, all British Monarchs {including the present Queen} are also descendants. Including John Knox’s second wife, Margaret Stewart, is descended down the Stewart line to Robert Bruce’s daughter, Marjorie.

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