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Robert I of Scotland

Robert I, King of Scots, usually known as Robert the Bruce (July 11, 1274- June 7, 1329), was, as his best modern biographer (Geoffrey Barrow) described him, a great hero who lived in a minor country. In every aspect of his career (until he became King of Scotland on March 25, 1306) he was a traditional member of the ruling feudal noble class; the grandson of a younger son descended from David I of Scotland, and more English than Scottish in his upbringing.

Table of contents
1 Background
2 Excommunication and Coronation
3 Wars of Independence
4 Diplomacy
5 Family


Robert Bruce was born at Turnberry Castle, Ayrshire, in 1274. He was the son of Robert Bruce, Lord of Annandale, and Margaret, daughter of Neil, Earl of Carrick. From his mother he inherited the Earldom of Carrick, and from his father a royal lineage that give him a claim on the Scottish throne.

Excommunication and Coronation

By murdering John Comyn at Dumfries in 1306 -- an act Pope Clement V excommunicated him for -- Bruce was able to secure the Scottish crown and was crowned at Scone in April of that year.

Wars of Independence

Eight years of exhausting but deliberate refusal to meet the English on even ground, during the Wars of Scottish Independence, proved Bruce to be one of the great guerrilla leaders of any age, an astonishing transformation for one raised as a feudal knight. Bruce secured Scottish independence from England at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Free from English control, Scotland's armies were able to invade northern England. Indeed, buoyed by his military successes, Bruce was able to invade Ireland, where his brother Edward was crowned King by the ebullient Irish. Bruce drove back a subsequent English expedition north of the border, forcing the English king to seek peace.


Robert Bruce's career is also marked by some equally successful diplomatic achievements, including the lifting of his excommunication by the new Pope, Pope John XXII, at Rome. In May 1328, the Treaty of Northampton was signed by the helpless English king, which finally recognized Scotland as an independent kingdom and Bruce as king.


Robert Bruce married twice, to Isabella of Mar and later to Elizabeth de Burgh. Isabella had one child, Marjory (d. 1316), who married Walter the Steward and was the mother of Robert II of Scotland. By Elizabeth he his four children, David, John, Matilda and Margaret (who married William, Earl of Sutherland).

When Bruce died of leprosy in 1329, he left a single infant son, David, to succeed him.

Bruce's Cave on Rathlin Island off the coast of Northern Ireland is named after him.

Preceded by:
John Balliol
List of British monarchs Succeeded by:
David II