Robert the Bruce
Bruce family, from Brix in Normandy, were in England
before William the Conqueror and were granted land
in Galloway by King David I in the 12th century.
Robert the Bruce's grandfather, Robert Bruce of
Annandale, who had estates in Huntingdon as well
as Scotland, was one of the claimants to the throne
of Scotland on the death of Queen Margaret, Maid
of Norway, in 1290 (he was a descendant of King
Alexander II). While he was unsuccessful, his son,
Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick and his grandson,
Robert the Bruce refused support for John Balliol
who had been selected by the English King Edward
Robert the Bruce was probably born in Turnberry
Castle in Ayrshire on 11 July 1274. However, there
are alternative claims for the place of birth, notably
Lochmaben Castle in Annandale, Dumfriesshire which
was the seat of the Bruce family. Robert the Bruce
lent support to William Wallace and became a Guardian
of Scotland (with John Comyn) but when Edward offered
a truce in 1302, Robert accepted and joined Edward's
"Scottish Council". In 1304, on the death
of his father, the Earl of Carrick, Robert was reputedly
the richest man in England.
But in 1306, after a quarrel and murdering John
Comyn, Robert declared himself King of Scotland.
He was crowned at Scone in March 1306. He then began
a guerilla war against the English King Edward I.
Initially he was not successful but gradually, with
increasing support, he captured a number of castles
- chivalrously allowing the defenders to return
to England. During this time, the "Declaration
of Arbroath" was sent to the Pope in Rome,
pleading the case for a Scotland free of English
Having heavily defeated the English army at the
Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and defeating Edward
II's invasion in 1322 by a "scorched earth"
policy, Edward III of England eventually agreed
to the Treaty of Edinburgh in 1328 which recognised
Scotland's independence, ending the 30 years of
the Wars of Independence.
King Robert was gravely ill by this time and died
at Cardross on 7 July 1329. His body was buried
in Dunfermline Abbey. At his request, his heart
was taken on a Crusade by James Douglas. In a fight
against the Moors in Spain, Douglas was killed and
the embalmed heart was returned to Scotland. It
was buried in Melrose Abbey. Recently a new casket
was created for the embalmed heart. A new stone
and was placed over the spot where his heart is
interred. It says, in Scots, "A noble hart
may hae nae ease, gif freedom failye" - "A
noble heart may have no ease if freedom fail".