ROBERT THE BRUCE
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.
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
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
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
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
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.