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, and Robert’s grandfather Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale, was one of the claimants to the Scottish throne during the 'Great Cause'.
As Earl of Carrick, Robert the Bruce supported his family’s claim to the throne and took part in William Wallace’s revolt against Edward I of England.
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 to his quarrels with Comyn, 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 finally 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 Holy Land, but he only reached Moorish Granada. According to tradition, Douglas was carrying the heart in a silver casket when he died at the head of the Scottish contingent at the Battle of Teba. He was killed in the battle fighting the Moors, but the king's heart was recovered and brought back to Scotland by Sir Symon Locard of Lee(later Lockhart) and Sir William Keith of Galston.
Read more about Robert Bruce: Background and Early Life, Beginning of The Wars of Independence, The Killing of John Comyn, The War of King Robert I (1306-1314), The Battle of Bannockburn – 1314, After Bannockburn - Further Confrontation With England Then The Irish Conflict, Diplomacy, Death, Discovery of The Bruce's Tomb, Issue, Ancestry, Legends, See Also
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