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1274 - 1329

Robert the Bruce came from a family of rich landowners. Through the peaceful years 1240s - 1280s, the Bruce's from Annan/Southern Scotland, acquired lands and Castles in Northern England at Guisborough and Hartlepool.

Robert the Bruce image

Robert the Bruce

In 1271, Robert Bruce married the widow Marjorie (Countess of Carrick), this seeing him become the Earl of Carrick (Southwest Ayrshire/Scotland). With that title, he acquired the castles and lands of Turnberry and Loch Doon. On July 11th 1274, the first of their many children 'Robert the Bruce' was born at Turnberry Castle.

King Alexander III of Scotland died in 1286, and his eight-year-old heir, Margaret, died four years later. As Scotland was then left without a monarch, the Scottish nobles began fighting over who was next in line to the throne. At that time, Edward I (Longshanks) of England, sent his troops into Scotland with a view of taking control for himself.

That was the start of turbulent times for the Scots, as the nobles then had to decide whether to give their support to the mighty English and be rewarded with land and money, or, risk everything by supporting a noble claiming to be next in line to the Scottish throne.

In 1292, John de Balliol beat of a challenge from Robert the Bruce's grandfather to become king of Scotland. Balliol seamed to have been chosen as he had sworn loyalty to the English king. Robert the Bruce's grandfather and father, then passed on their titles to him, so he would have a strong claim to the throne in years to come.

After England declared war on France in 1294, Longshanks requested Balliol to support him. Balliol declined that request as he intended to give his support to France. At that time, Longshanks requested Bruce's father help to defend Carlisle Castle until he returned from the war in France. In 1296, Bruce's father and his garrison were forced to fight their own countrymen when the Scots attacked Carlisle Castle. Longshanks returned from France a few weeks later to lead an army into Scotland. After a series of Battles, Balliol surrendered in July of 1296. Longshanks was once again set to govern Scotland.

After William Wallace's defeat at Falkirk in July 1298, Robert the Bruce and John Comyn were pronounced the new Guardians of Scotland. They set about trying to gain control of Scotland by using guerrilla tactics against the occupying English forces. In 1302, Bruce gave up that role after making an unknown agreement with Longshanks. John Comyn carried on as leader of the Scots until Longshanks defeated him in 1303. Longshanks then rewarded Bruce by proclaiming him sheriff of Ayr and Lanark.

In 1306, Bruce had John Comyn murdered to clear the way for him to become king of Scotland. After Longshanks was informed of Bruce's intentions, he appointed Comyn's brother in law as Special Lieutenant of Scotland to defeat Bruce. After only three months as king, Bruce was forced into hiding after loosing a series of battles. By that time, one of his brothers had been captured and executed, his sister Mary was imprisoned in Roxburgh Castle, his wife was being kept captive at Holderness and his daughter had been sent to a Yorkshire Nunnery.

Bruce returned to continue his campaign in 1307. Although two of his brothers were soon captured and executed, Bruce fought on winning battles at Glentrool in April and Loudoun Hill in June. Longshanks died in July of that year leaving his son Edward II to succeed him to the throne. Edward made a major blunder at that time as he postponed the planned English attacks on Bruce, this giving Bruce time to defeat the Scots allied to England.

In 1310, Bruce held off the first attacks by Edward's armies, and by 1314, had captured the English strongholds of Edinburgh and Roxburgh castles, with Stirling Castle under siege.

On June 23rd 1314, Edward's army met the Scots led by Bruce at Bannockburn.

This confined area of marshlands and woods, forced the English heavy cavalry to charge straight at the Scots, only to run into a wall of pikes.

The English army's defeated in that battle saw Edward, along with his surviving troops, flee to Stirling.


Statue of Robert the Bruce on the site of the Battle of Bannockburn image

Statue of Robert the Bruce on the site of the Battle of Bannockburn

After a further 14 years of war, the treaty of Edinburgh was signed March 17th 1328, this allowing Bruce to become king of an independent Scotland.

Bruce died at Cardross, probably from leprosy June 7th 1329.

Battles between Scotland and England continued on and off for another 400 years until the signing of the Union in 1707. After that time, Scotland joined England, Wales and Ireland as Great Britain.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_I_of_Scotland People List