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King of Scotland

  • Born 11 July 1274 - Writtle,Chelmsford,Essex,England
  • Deceased 7 June 1329 - Cardcross Castle,Firth of Clyde,Dumbartonshire,Scotland , age at death: 54 years old


 Spouses and children



On 's side Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick 1243-


Individual Note

Robert the Bruce, 2nd Earl of Carrick and grandson of the old Competitorhad supported Edward I against Balliol but, when Wallace renounced theguardianship of Scotland Bruce and Balliol's nephew, John 'Red' Comynreplaced him as joint guardians. After a quarrel with Comyn he returnedto Edward's camp and obtained a pardon. Bruce, seeking a reconciliationwith Comyn, impulsively stabbed him at Dumfries in a church. He was againoutlawed by Edward and excommunicated. Bruce claimed the Scottish throneas great-great-grandson of David I and was crowned at Scone in 1306. Hewent into hiding in a cave on an island off Ireland after he killed RedComyn. This is where we get the legend of Bruce and the spider. We do notknow if this is a true story but it makes a good legend. He watched thespider spinning its web and attempting to fix the web to the ceiling. Atlast the spider succeeded. According to the legend, this inspired Bruceto overcome his many hardships and persevere until he had won backScotland. He made plans to take back his original home, Turnberry Castle.As they made their way to the castle, the plan was that if all was well,a light would be showing at the castle wall. They did see the light butupon nearing the castle, discovered that it was an enemy fire.Nonetheless, Bruce attacked and by this surprise attack gained food,armour and horses. He learned that three of his brothers and his wife,daughter and two sisters had been imprisoned by the English. Although hewas now King, he was not well supported by the nobles and so Scottishlands and castles remained in the hands of the English. He knew that hewould have to fight castle by castle in order to regain Scotland anddrive the English out. Through his perseverance, by 1324 all castles inScotland except Stirling were in Scottish hands. By this time Edward IIwas on the throne of England and was much more ineffectual than hisfather.

Bruce's much smaller force spectacularly defeated Edward II's 20,000strong army at Bannockburn.

The Declaration of Arbroath, an affirmation of Scottish independence, wassent to the Pope but the Pope did not recognize Bruce for four years asthe rightful king of Scotland. After Edward III ascended to the throne,Bruce's army harassed the English so much that Edward III was forced toacknowledge his sovereignty and Scotland's freedom.

Not long after the peace Bruce died. He was buried in Dunfermline Abbey.He had always wanted to go on a crusade. When he died his heart wasplaced in a silver casket and kept by Sir James Douglas who planned totake it on a crusade to the Holy Lands. Douglas joined the army of theKing of Spain and while fighting a battle was killed. But before he died,he threw the casket in the midst of the battle crying, 'Now go before,brave heart, as you always did, and I shall follow you or die.' Thecasket was recovered
and returned to Scotland.

At the end of Bruce's life, he had achieved what he had fought for yearsto accomplish. Scotland was once again an independent kingdom. Scotlandremembers him as 'Good King Robert' and his triumph at Bannockburn is arallying cry to Scots everywhere. Scotland would never again beconquered. Bruce's final legacy was to confirm 'Scotland as separate anddistinct, not just as a kingdom but as a community, a people andultimately a nation.'

The turn of the 14th century was a time of change and turmoil inScotland. The English king Edward I, the 'Hammer of the Scots', hadreduced Scotland to a vassal state. In 1297 William Wallace had defeatedthe English army at the battle of Stirling Bridge, and became Guardian ofScotland, but not for long. The Battle of Falkirk on 22nd July sawWallace defeated by Edwards army, and he fled underground, afterresigning the position of Guardian so recently bestowed upon him. Two menthen became joint Guardians - John 'the Red' Comyn and Robert the Bruce -until 1300 when the place of Robert the Bruce was taken by Ingram deUmfraville. John Balliol, the uncle of John 'the Red' Comyn, wastechnically king of Scotland from 1292-1296, but had surrendered Scotlandto Edward I in 1292, and with the royal arms stripped from his coat, hebecame known as 'Toom Tabard' or 'Empty Coat'. He went into exile, and itwas also this man who William Wallace was attempting to restore as Kingof Scotland. So Robert the Bruce, after the death of his father in 1304,found himself in competition for the Scottish throne with theComyn/Balliol family.

Wallace evaded capture for years, until finally in 1305 he was betrayedand captured as he slept by a well in Robroyston, near Glasgow. He wastried for treason and brutally executed on the 24th August 1305, afterseven years in hiding. After the trial, he was taken to Smithfield, andsubsequently hung, drawn and quartered, then beheaded. As a warning toall others, the ruthless King Edward I sent the body parts of WilliamWallace to Berwick, Stirling, Perth and Newcastle to be put on display.His head was impaled on a spike on London Bridge. William Wallaceinspired many men in his time, with his courage and brilliant militarytactics. Robert the Bruce was inspired by him as well. In 1302 Bruce hadsubmitted to the English in exchange for a pardon, partly because at thattime, and with Wallace on the run, he could not see the point in fightingfor an independent Scotland if it meant his rivals, the Balliol/Comynfamily, would be on the throne. However, following the execution ofWallace, everything changed. Bruce knew that if he was to realise hisclaim on the Scottish throne, he had to eliminate his biggest problem inorder to clear the path for him to rule. The problem was John 'the Red'Comyn, the nephew of the exiled Balliol. Comyn was powerful, he hadinfluence and many powerful allies and friends. Bruce knew he had come toa cross-roads. He must come to an agreement with Comyn, in the shape of aproposal which outlined Bruce's plan to become king. Under Bruce's plan,Bruce would give his lands to Comyn, in return for his support in makingBruce king. A meeting was set for 10th of February 1306, at Greyfriars, aFranciscan church in Dumfries. Comyn agreed to come and listen to Bruce'sproposal.

The two men met at the alter of the church and when Comyn heard Bruce'sproposal, he was enraged. So enraged in fact, that a heated argument wasignited between himself and Bruce. This filled Bruce with anger, and inthe heat of the moment he reached for his dagger and thrust it into JohnComyn, Killing him on the spot. Sir Robert Comyn, John's uncle, rushed todefend his nephew and was killed by Bruce's followers. With that killing,Robert the Bruce had placed himself in a vulnerable position, and changedthe history of Scotland. In his temper he had killed a well-respectednoble, and worse still, killed him in a church. He knew that he was nowunder threat from Comyn's kinsmen, as well as being an outlaw for themurder. He was also excommunicated from the church by Pope Clement V forthe murder of Comyn. Nevertheless, on the 25th of March, 1306, a mere sixweeks after the killing, Robert the Bruce was crowned king of Scotland inScone palace. Things were only to turn from bad to worse for King Robertthe Bruce, including being outlawed by Edward I, hunted under Edwardscommand by the brother-in-law of Comyn, Aymer de Valence, defeated by himin a battle at Methven, and nearly being captured at Tyndrum by more ofComyn's kinsmen.

He sent his family to Kildrummy Castle in Aberdeenshire for safety, butby September, his wife and daughter were in prison, his brother Neil hadbeen hung and beheaded, and his sister Mary and Countess Isabella put incages. Bruce then travelled from Kintyre to the island of Rathlin, justoff the Irish coast. His movements are unknown after that until hisreturn to Scotland in February 1307. It was during this uncertain timethat tales of Bruce were abound, including many that were innaccurate orjust fanciful talk of a leader by inspired followers. These storiesincluded the famous observation by Bruce of a spider while hiding in acave. Bruce was said to have watched the spider persistently attempt tobridge a gap at the mouth of the cave. The spider failed in its first twoattempts, but was successful on the third. This, allegedly, inspiredBruce, and no doubt many of his supporters. After returning to Scotlandin February 1307, Bruce was aware of his position and the strength of theEnglish army, coupled with the followers and kinsmen of Comyn. He knewthat the only way to succeed was to conduct a guerilla war, with theintention of frightening and demoralizing the forces allied against him.However, several important victories followed for Bruce. He defeated JohnMowbray's forces in Glen Trool, Galloway, by ambush. More importantstill, he defeated Aymer de Valence at Loudon Hill near Kilmarnock, eventhough he was greatly outnumbered, and then the Earl of Gloucestershortly afterwards. It must have seemed as though things just couldn'thave gone better for Bruce, but they were about to take a significantturn. The news that Bruce, as well as many others, had been hoping forfinally came to pass - King Edward I - the 'Hammer of the Scots' - wasdead. At the start of 1314, Edward II of England was losing his grip onScotland. He did not match up to his father in presence or militaryknowledge, and one by one the Scottish castles held by the English beganto fall. After taking Edinburgh Castle, Perth and Roxburgh, Bruce turnedhis eyes to Stirling. This significant Scottish stronghold was garrisonedby the English under the command of Sir Philip Mowbray. To make mattersmore difficult, the brother of King Robert, Edward the Bruce, had agreedthat if the English had not relieved Stirling Castle by midsummers day,it was to be surrendered. King Robert realised that this was a goodopportunity for the English to mass an army in one place. He knew that hemust defend the Castle in a head to head battle, or the English wouldgain a strong foothold right in the centre of Scotland. He could notallow the castle to be relieved. The two men, Edward II and King Robertthe Bruce had a lot to lose. If Edward could not even relieve one castle,he would be looked on as a failure. If Bruce could not demonstrate hisskill and leadership in the face of an English advance, especially withsuch a significant place as Stirling, then there was a real risk oflosing his reputation as a couragous leader. So Bruce began in March of1314 three months of intense training and drilling of his men. Bruce knewthe lie of the land, and also knew this was going to be his greatestasset. He booby-trapped the small Bannock Burn (burn is the Scottish wordfor stream) with spikes to gouge the feet of advancing cavalry. He alsoknew that if he could force the English horse onto the boggy ground ofthe Carse, they would be of little use to the English king. Aware thatthe English army was likely to greatly outnumber his own, Robert had touse every natural advantage of the land that he could. He had 5,500well-trained men, and there were 2,000 'small folk' - untrainedvolunteers. On 17th of June the massive army of Edward II was inEdinburgh, where supplies were collected in Leith. By Saturday 23rd ofJune, Edwards army were arriving from Falkirk in order to take up theirpositions for the forthcoming battle. Bruce himself rode forward to viewhis enemy and gather information on their numbers and formations. It wasan incredible sight he saw. Edwards army was 20,000 strong, includingsome 17,000 archers and 2,000 heavy cavalry, compared to the 500 lightcavalry and handful of archers available to . The Scots were outnumberedfour to one, but King Robert the Bruce had one massive advantage - he wasa master tactician and military planner. Bruce had his army positioned infour divisions, with the 'small folk' behind Coxet hill, where they wouldremain unless needed. Bruce knew that their inexperience in battle mayhinder his well-trained troops. His spearmen were deployed in huge, thickcircles, facing outward, with their schiltrons - 20ft long heavy spears -providing a massive hedgehog-like structure that would kill any cavalryattempting to penetrate it. Bruce, whilst surveying the English army,wore his crown and this sparked an idea in the mind of one young Englishknight. With Bruce so easy for him to identify, the young Sir Henry deBohun realised that if he killed him the Scots would suffer a mostcrushing blow, and that he himself would gain unrivalled admiration fromhis English king. The next thing Bruce knew, de Bohun was chargingtowards him with his 12 foot long lance ready for action. Bruce was onhis Highland pony, and saw the attack coming. He waited until the lastpossible moment, then violently wrenched his pony to one side. The keende Bohen went speeding past, and Bruce swung his battle-axe, crushing thearmour worn by de Bohun and splitting open his skull. The eager de Bohunfell dead on the spot with the one mighty blow, which broke the shaft ofthe axe wielded by Bruce. His army saw their king and his act of courage,and their hearts were filled with admiration and inspiration. If any ofhis men had doubted his courage, surely their fears were now at rest.Bruce had shown that he was indeed a warrior king. When his commandersreflected on the risk that Bruce took, the king of the Scots pointed outthat he was more dismayed that he had broken the shaft of his axe! EdwardII thought that the Scots were terrified of a head to head confrontation,and when they began advancing, he was convinced that victory was in hishand. He ordered the Earl of Gloucester to launch a massive full-frontalattack, but the inexperienced Edward did not realise that he had fallenstraight into Bruce's trap. Edwards forces were positioned on the boggycarse, as Bruce had intended, and were also squeezed between two streams- the Bannock Burn and the Pelstream Burn. On launching the attack, theEarl of Gloucester was met by the advancing schiltrons of Bruce's army.The circular hedgehog-like formations of Scottish spears cut down theEnglish cavalry and repulsed their advance. The Earl was killed, andEdward had lost one of his few battle tacticians. Bruce ordered in thecavalry under Keith's command to attack the English archers, and scatterthem from the battlefield. Bruce himself, with his reserve army ofHighlanders, launched a full attack on the enemy. Edward, on seeing this,decided that he should flee the field and rush for the safety of StirlingCastle, which was still held by his Garrison. To his surprise, Sir PhilipMobray refused to allow Edward into the castle, and so the English kingwas forced to flee towards Dunbar to escape capture. The English army,realising that their king had deserted them, became demoralized andconfused. Bruce then ordered the 'small folk' - the 2,000 untrainedvolunteers hiding behind Coxet hill - to attack. The English on seeingthis thought that the Scots had a massive reserve force, and horror wasstruck into their hearts. The English centre fled, unwisely, towards thewaters of the Forth. The right flank attempted to head in the directionof their king, and the left flank were forced back into the Bannock Burn,where Bruce had laid his booby traps. Accounts tell of the Englishfalling over each other to cross the Bannock Burn, killing many ofthemselves in the process. The �200,000 English supply convoy wascaptured and Bruce also obtained high-status hostages, which he exchangedfor his wife, daughter and the bishop of Glasgow. King Robert the Bruce,with his Scottish army, had defeated an English army four times theirsize.
GEDCOM File : David Peter Family6.ged

Family Note

Marriage with Elizabeth de Burgh:
1 REFN M2912

Marriage with x Concubine:
1 REFN M15475

Marriage with Isabell Of Mar:
1 REFN M4371

  Photos and archival records

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 Family Tree Preview

Robert Bruce, Lord of Annandale 1210-1295   Isabel de Clare 1226-1264/   Neil Of Carrick, 2nd Earl of Carrick ca 1202-1256   Margaret Stewart ca 1206-
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Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick 1243-   Marjorie Of Carrick, Countess of Carrick ca 1252-/1292
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Robert Bruce, King of Scotland 1274-1329

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