This page is dedicated to all my Scottish friends ....
I am active in the Melha Shriners here in Massachusetts,
and am a member of the
Melha Highlander Scottish Pipe Band
We proudly wear the "Bruce Tartan" pictured on this page
Although William Wallace and Robert the Bruce
were of the same period in Scottish history, their aims were
to begin with, very different. Wallace was driven by patriotism
and hatred of the English invaders, Bruce on the other hand,
was initially motivated by his personal ambition.
The family of Bruce were infact Anglo-Norman and known
as de Brus, his grandfather had been one of various claimans
to the Scottish throne when Balliol was nominated by the
English King, Edward I. The Bruce had originally sworn fealty
(allegiance) to the English king too but changed sides as
Wallace became recognised as the leader of the Scottish armies
by virtue of his various successes against the English.
However as thesuccess of Wallace waned, Bruce once more
switched his allegiance, along with many more of the Scottish
Lords who originally joined Wallace, back to the English King.
When Wallace was out of the country and Edward I was warring
in France, the way was open for Bruce to take the initiative.
His own patriotism had been instilled in him by his first wife,
the daughter of the Earl of Mar. It was the daughter of this union,
through her marriage to Walter the Steward, that became the mother
of the first great Scottish Stewart dynasty (later relations in this line
included Charles I, and Bonnie Prince Charlie).
At this time the English Parliament had written up a Constitution for Scotland
which had failed due to a lack of consent on the part of the Scots who
had strong resentment towards the English and their involvement in Scotland.
In 1306 Bruce's patriotism was enhanced when he killed his hereditary enemy,
the Red Comyn during a quarrel in the church of the
Convent of the Minorite Friars in Dumfries. Bloodshed on sacred ground was sacrilege,
and this act put Bruce outside the parameters of Christendom, above all enraging Edward.
With the backing of a few friends and a small host gathered round him, he went to
Scone where the Kings of Scotland were crowned and became the King of Scotland.
The coronation was conducted by two Scottish Earls and three Bishops, Bruce was
crowned by the Countess of Buchan in place of her brother who held the hereditary right
to crown the Kings of Scotland, but refused to attend in this case.
The real crown having been stolen by Edward was replaced by a golden coronella.
Thus Robert the Bruce, the greatest soldier king Scotland ever had, began his battle against
the English, and his fight to capture the hearts and minds of the Scottish people and once
more bring back pride and independence to the beleaguered Scots.
Edward was enraged by Bruce's actions and sent a strong force north of the border
which crushed the smaller Scottish force, aided by treachery on the part of some Scots.
Bruce and some of his followers took refuge in the wild mountainous areas of Athol and Argyle.
He was accompanied by Sir James Douglas, known as 'the Black Douglas', whose clan
was one of the strongest in Scotland at the time. Edward sent many forces to find Bruce,
Douglas and the rest of the small band, but they were unable to bring them to captivity
although there were many close encounters where Bruce through sheer guts and
determination was able to avoid capture.
These various encounters have gone down in Scottish folklore, but at the time they
provided the Scots with a focus for their hopes of independence.
Whilst in hiding from the English, Bruce's lands were confiscated and his wife and young
daughter were imprisoned in English castles. The Countess of Buchan who had dared crown
Bruce was imprisoned in an open cage made of wickerwork and fixed to the walls of a castle
in Berwick, and three of Bruce's brothers were put to death.
Many others who opposed Edward and supported Bruce or Wallace suffered similar fates with
their heads being placed on spikes to discourage others from acting against their English overlords.
These brutal actions undertaken by Edward, however had the opposite affect and Scots from the Clergy,
nobles, gentles and commons rallied to Bruce's banner swearing fealty to him as their rightful King.
For about a year Bruce was a fugitive in great danger but fate was on his side as the King of England,
Edward I - the 'hammer of the Scots' - died, failing in his great purpose of life to totally annex Scotland
under English rule.
Such was the hatred of Edward that his dying wish was to have his bones carried to Scotland the
next time a rebellion broke out.
Edward II was not the same type of character as his father, even though he led an army into
Scotland to obey his father's dying behest only to be defeated in Ayrshire.
Bruce continued to enhance his position by defeating his enemies, those who had conspired
with the English, within Scotland. Philip IV of France attempted to bring about a truce
between Scotland and England, but as Bruce enjoyed more success in getting Scotland
behind him, these attempts were ignored.
Another important step for Bruce was to get the Clergy to support him after the incident in the
church when he had slain Comwyn. This was eventually achieved with the clergy swearing
fealty to him as their rightful King and amending their seals accordingly.
Tit for tat exchanges occurred between the English and the Scots across the borders,
with Bruce and the Scots being more successful than their English counterparts.
Various castles in Scotland that had been taken by the English during the time of Edward I,
returned to their legitimate owners. Dumbarton, Perth, Roxburgh and the great stronghold of
Edinburgh Castle were re-captured with daring and cunning, often with the Black Douglas
acting as leader.
The most important stronghold of Stirling remained in the hands of the English, so Bruce
assigned the taking of it by his brother, Edward Bruce. The English governor of the Castle
suggested a sporting challenge by offering to surrender were the Castle not relieved before
the twenty-fourth day of the following June.
This allowed time for an English army to attempt to relieve the much besieged garrison and
offered a chance for the Scots to face the might of the English army once and for all.
The challenge was accepted out of chivalry and the stage was set for the best known battle
in Scottish history.
Duly the English marched north with the biggest force yet to face the smaller Scots army.
As the English approached Bruce was riding a small mount, not expecting any attack
at that point.
Sir Henry de Bohun, an English knight, recognised Bruce and seized the chance to fight him as,
unlike Bruce, he was dressed in full armour and riding a great war horse.
On seeing the oncoming attack, Bruce turned and rising in his stirrups, with one blow,
clove de Bohun's skull in two with his battle axe, which consequently broke.
The morning of the battle followed a night of revelry for the English, so sure were they of victory,
the Scots on the other hand had spent it in "silence and devotion". Bruce prepared the ground
around the Bannock Burn, placing his troops in strategic positions that allowed for retreat if
victory proved impossible.
The army was divided into four 'schiltrons' or circles, under Edward Bruce, Sir James Douglas,
Sir Thomas Randolph and Walter the Steward. The King himself was in charge of the reserves.
The ground between the Scots and the approaching English was full of marshes and watercourses.
The Bannock Burn gave some protection to the Scottish front, as did two great bogs which
threatened to slow the English progress.
The English attack commenced with a hail of arrows over the Scots, however in the hand
to hand fighting the defenders had the upper hand as the English, fighting in spaces too close,
were caught up in the submerged pits and bogs. Men and horses plunged helplessly,
and kinghts, hampered by heavy armour could not rise.
The English ranks, in total disorder, suffered the final blow when a group of observers tore
down the hill where they had been eagerly watching shouting the Bruce's battle cry and
making the English think that Scots reinforcements had arrived.
Edward II fled the field leaving some intrepid English still fighting.
Bannockburn was the greatest defeat that the English ever suffered at the hands of the Scots
and the victory provided great booty, but more importantly, independence and Bruce as
"Master of Scotland".
The succession to the throne was quickly organised by Parliament and ensured that if there
were no male heir to Bruce that his brother Edward and his male heirs would succeed.
The only child of Bruce was Marjorie who died in child birth, after a fall from a horse, the
surviving infant of the Princess later became Robert II.
The Pope intervened between the two warring countries by proclaiming a two year truce.
Bruce ignored this as the Pope refused to recognise him as the rightful King,
and sent forces to Berwick to retake the city that had been in the hands of the English since
Edward I had butchered its inhabitants.
The English remained oblivious to Scotlandís independence and the Scots sent an appeal
to the Pope stating that:
"While there exists a hundred of us we will never submit to England.
We fight not for glory, wealth or honour, but for that liberty the loss of which no virtuous
man will survive"
Hostilities between the countries continued, Edward II running out of supplies returned south after
ravaging the Scottish border area only to be surprised by Bruce heading north after raids into Yorkshire.
Treachery was waiting for Edward II after he fled south to escape Bruce; firstly, by the Earl of Carlisle
who was in league with the Scots and was summarily executed; and secondly, by his wife who,
with her lover, was conspiring against him. With various problems hanging over him, Edward called
for a thirteen year truce with the Scots, although this did not include recognising Bruce as the
'King of Scotland'.
Bruce also got papal approval and with the birth of his son he was in a strong position to be
universally recognised as King. The uneasiness between the English and Scottish neighbors continued
and Bruce was able to raise more taxes for his armies through the Scottish Parliament.
The situation remained the same as Edward II was replaced by Edward III, even though a treaty was
initially signed which attempted to bring peace. Finally a large English army was forced to disband
when faced by a smaller Scottish army and with this and other pressures playing on the English,
overtures for peace were made.
The terms were concluded in Edinburgh the following year with Scotland being formally recognised as an
independent Kingdom, her King an independent Sovereign, her inhabitants a free and independent people.
Robert the Bruce saw the fulfilment of his highest hopes and he was able to live out the last years of
his life in peace at Cardross where he died in his fifty fifth year.
His last request was that his heart be taken on the crusades against the infidel. James Douglas carried
out this last wish throwing it in front of him into the fighting, and following it as he so often had done.
The Black Douglas was killed in Spain but the Bruce's heart was returned to its native Scotland.
Bruce and the North East of Scotland
Bruce was crowned in 1306 on the 26th of June, however his struggle over the enemy from the South
continued for many years after.
Kildrummy Castle lies some 30 miles west of Aberdeen and it was here that Bruce sent the Queen,
and his brother Nigel for safety. Unfortunately the Queen was taken prisoner by the English.
Bruce defeated his sworn enemies the Comyns at Old Meldrum, north west of Aberdeen on
Christmas Eve in 1307.
After this the whole of the north east swore fealty to him, and legend has it attacked the garrison
in the castle at Aberdeen who supported Edward I, and put them to the sword.
The Aberdeen motto 'Bon-Accord' on the city Coat of Arms, was said to have been given to the town
by Bruce in thanks for their defeat of the English garrison ..........
however the historic accuracy of this is open to speculation.
Keeping peace in the north of Scotland depended on Aberdeenshire (now Grampian),
so many strong fortifications were built such as Kildrummy, Kindrochit in Mar
(Braemar - 70 miles west of Aberdeen and 15 miles from Balmoral, the summer residence of the present Queen)
and later Hallforest (a hunting lodge built by Bruce) outside Kintore.
Bruce spent a lot of time in Aberdeen especially as it was the first area of Scotland to offer its support to him.
To show his thanks to the Aberdonians once his authority become the dominant force in Scotland,
he conferred a Royal Charter to the city in 1314.
The Royal Forest of Stocket also became the property of the city and the Brig (bridge) of Balgownie
was probably built by funds from Bruce.
Bruce also shaped the future of the area by giving lands, some from the Comyns, to various families who
became the main dynasties of the area. These names that dominated the area, such as;
Gordon (Gordon of Khartoum), Keith, Lesley, Fraser, Irvine, Burnett, Hay, Johnstone, are still in evidence today
and much of the local history is in the context of these names and families.
The Scottish flag is the cross of St. Andrew, also known as the Saltire. It is said to be one of the
oldest national flags of any country, dating back at least to the 12th century.
Tradition suggests that St. Andrew (an apostle of Jesus in the Christian religion) was put to death by the
Romans in Greece by being pinned to a cross of this shape.
The flag of the United Kingdom - known as the Union Flag or Union Jack - is made up from the flags of
Scotland, England (the Cross of Saint George) and Ireland (the Cross of Saint Patrick).
There is a second flag which is associated with Scotland, the "Rampant Lion", or Royal Flag of Scotland.
Although based on an older Scottish flag than the St. Andrew's Cross, it should, strictly speaking, now only be
used by the monarch in relation to her capacity as Queen in Scotland. However, it is widely used as a second
The Rampant Lion flag flies over the offices of the Secretary of State for Scotland (who is the representative of
the U.K. government in Scotland); that is Dover House in London and New St Andrew's House in Edinburgh.
King George V signed a Royal Warrant in 1934 allowing the use of the Rampant Lion flag as "a mark of loyalty"
because of the forthcoming Jubilee celebrations. The Lord Lyon officially now takes the view that this
permission "related to decorative ebullition", that is, it is permissable to wave the flag at football matches. It is
however not allowable to fly the flag without permission, on a flag-pole or from a building. The Lord Lyon once
threatened the town councillors of Cumbernauld with an Act passed in 1679 which prescribed the death penalty
for mis-use of the royal arms.
Scotland has not had its own monarchy since the Act of Union with England in 1707. Queen Elizabeth II is
monarch of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Lord Lyon of Arms is the judicial officer responsible for upholding heraldic law in Scotland.
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