Facts and Events
Robert I (11 July 1274 – 7 June 1329), popularly known as Robert the Bruce (Medieval Gaelic: Roibert a Briuis; modern Scottish Gaelic: Raibeart Bruis; Norman French: Robert de Brus or Robert de Bruys, Early Scots: Robert Brus), was King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329. Robert was one of the most famous warriors of his generation, eventually leading Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England. He fought successfully during his reign to regain Scotland's place as an independent nation, and is today remembered in Scotland as a national hero.
Descended from the Scoto-Norman and Gaelic nobilities, through his father he was a fourth-great grandson of David I, as well as claiming Richard (Strongbow) de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, King of Leinster and Governor of Ireland, as well as William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke (described as the "best knight that ever lived.") and Henry I of England amongst his paternal ancestors. Robert’s grandfather Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale, was one of the claimants to the Scottish throne during the 'Great Cause'.
In 1298 he became a Guardian of Scotland alongside his great rival for the Scottish throne, John Comyn, and William Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews. Bruce resigned as guardian in 1300 due in part to his quarrels with Comyn, but chiefly because the restoration of King John seemed imminent, and in 1302 submitted to Edward I and returned ‘to the king’s peace’. With the death of his father in 1304, Bruce inherited his family’s claim to the throne.
In February 1306 following an argument during their meeting at Greyfriars monastery, Dumfries, Bruce killed Comyn. He was excommunicated by the Pope, but absolved by Robert Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow. Robert moved quickly to seize the throne and was crowned king of Scots on 25 March 1306, at Scone.
Edward I’s forces defeated Robert in battle and he was forced to flee into hiding in the Hebrides and Ireland, before returning in 1307 to defeat an English army at Loudoun Hill and wage a highly successful guerrilla war against the English. Robert defeated the Comyns and his other Scots enemies, destroying their strongholds and devastating their lands from Buchan to Galloway. In 1309 he was able to hold his first parliament at St Andrews, and a series of military victories between 1310 and 1314 won him control of much of Scotland.
At the Battle of Bannockburn in June 1314 he defeated a much larger English army under Edward II, confirming the re-establishment of an independent Scottish monarchy. The battle marked a significant turning point, and, freed from English threats, Scotland's armies could now invade northern England, with Robert launching devastating raids into Lancashire and Yorkshire. Robert also decided to expand his war against the English and create a second front by sending an army under his younger brother, Edward, to invade Ireland, appealing to the native Irish to rise against Edward II's rule.
Despite Bannockburn and the capture of the final English stronghold at Berwick in 1318, Edward II still refused to give up his claim to the overlordship of Scotland. In 1320, the Scottish magnates and nobles submitted the Declaration of Arbroath to Pope John XXII, declaring that Robert was their rightful monarch and asserting Scotland’s status as an independent kingdom. In 1324 the Pope recognized Robert as king of an independent Scotland, and in 1326 the Franco-Scottish alliance was renewed in the Treaty of Corbeil. In 1327, the English deposed Edward II in favour of his son, Edward III, and peace was temporarily concluded between Scotland and England with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, by which Edward III renounced all claims to superiority over Scotland.
Robert I died on 7 June 1329. His body is buried in Dunfermline Abbey, while his heart was interred in Melrose Abbey. Bruce's lieutenant and friend Sir James Douglas agreed to take the late King's embalmed heart on crusade to the Lord's Sepulchre in the Holy Land, but he only reached Moorish Granada. Douglas was killed in battle during the siege of Teba while fulfilling his promise. His body and the casket containing the embalmed heart were found upon the field. They were both conveyed back to Scotland by Sir William Keith of Galston.
Story of what happened to Bruce's heart
When Bruce was dying (1329) his one big regret in life was that he had never went on a crusade to the Holy Land because of the constant wars with England. On his death bed he asked his friend, Sir James Douglas, (who I am named after) The Good Sir James to the Scots, The Black Douglas to the English, if he would on his death remove his heart, hence the sawn ribs when the body was rediscovered, and as he could not go, would Douglas take his heart to the Holy Land. (Not asking much)
Douglas and his followers got as far as Seville in southern Spain where the Spanish king asked for his help to remove the Moors from Spain. In the battle that followed the Moors feigned retreat and led Douglas into a trap. His last deed was to take the casket that held Bruce's heart and throw it into the enemy calling on his men to follow Bruce for the last time. Douglas was killed.
The casket was recovered and taken back to Scotland.