The 6th of April, this year 1306, Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, was solemnly crowned at Scone; in memorial whereof, [John de] Fordun, the prior [of St. Andrews], has left us these rhymes.
In the year thirteen hundred and six,
Robert de Bruce, of kingly stock, was found,
Received at Scone Scotland’s king was crowned.
This is in April the 6th of the month.
This year of King Robert’s coronation was very unfortunate to him; for in 3 months he was several times overthrown by the lieutenants of King Edward [I.] of England: [firstly,] at Methven, by Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, Governor of Scotland for King Edward of England, the 19th day of June: secondly, in the confines of Atholl, the 18th day of August, at Dalry.
This same year, likewise, William, Earl of Ross, took King Robert’s wife [Elizabeth de Burgh] prisoner, and delivered her to the tyrant of England, where she remained a prisoner till the battle of Bannockburn.
This year there was a mutual indenture made between Sir Gilbert [de la] Hay of Errol, Sir Niall mac Cailein of Lochawe, and Sir Alexander Seton, knights, at the abbey of Lindores, to defend King Robert and his crown to the last of their blood and fortunes; upon the sealing of the said indenture, they solemnly took the sacrament at St. Maria’s altar, in the said abbey church.
In the year 1307, Sir Simon Fraser and Sir Walter Logan, knights, with diverse others, were taken by their Anglicised countrymen, and traitorously delivered to the tyrant King Edward, who basely caused [the striking off of their] heads from them, at London.
This year, 1308, was more auspicious to King Robert; for at Inverurie he vanquished John Comyn, Earl of Buchan, and Sir John Mowbray, knight, and either killed or routed their whole army, and immediately after the victory, with fire and sword destroyed the said Earls whole lands.
This year, also, Edward Bruce, the King’s brother, in a great battle near the river Dee, overthrew Donald of the Isles, and [Sir] Ronald [MacDougal], with their whole army of Islanders, and Gollowidians, and English: in memory of which victory, [John de] Fordun hath left us these:
1000 once 100 three times together with 5 once and 1 three times,
On the feast of Peter saint Paul was happy,
Edward de Bruce by him coming for Donald
Dignified nation overcame the Galwegians.
In fact near the river Dee the English gather their main body:
Committing to the line, with a lance he laid low a knight;
Foot soldiers rush in, fleeing thou leddest them.
Shamefully great-hearted knight’s sword falls on Roland,
And several others who have familiar names.
Shortly afterwards, master accompanying the supernatural,
Burnt island, are always Scots hostile,
Restored is Edward, the grey captured Donald.
This same year, also, King Robert himself, in a great battle overthrew Alexander of Argyll in the midst of his own country, killed above 1000 men to him, and brought both it and Kintyre under his obedience. Alexander, after the loss of this battle, fled to the castle of Dunstaffnage, and kept it till the King, upon his surrender of the same, gave him a safe pass to go to England.
This year King Robert’s two brothers, Thomas and Alexander, who were taken prisoner at Loch Ryan, were, by the tyrant Edward’s command, both of them beheaded at Carlisle.
In the month of August, 1309, died that noble Lord, James [Stewart], the Great Steward of Scotland, father to Walter, the brother-in-law to King David II., son to King Robert I.
The year, 1310, Pope Clement excommunicates the Venetians, because they had taken Ferrara, and gives their territories and dominions to them that could first catch hold of them by the sword or otherwise, and stirs up such as had embraced the crusade for the Holy Land, and the enemies of Christ, against the Venetians to war, whom they beat to humility, and caused them, with sore skin, [to] kiss his Holiness’ feet, prostrate on their knees, by Francesco Dandolo [Doge of Venice], their ambassador, at Avignon.
Ferdinand [IV.], King of Castile, this year, 15th of September, found dead in his bed, as would appear of an apoplexy [stroke].
In the month of February this year, 1311, the [Holy Roman] Emperor Henry [VII.] comes into Italy with a gallant army, and is solemnly, by Pope Clement [V.], crowned with the iron crown, at Milan.
This year, also, Piers Gaveston, minion to King Edward II. of England, is killed by the nobility of that kingdom, for abusing the king’s authority and goodness.
The year 1312, the Emperor Henry comes to Rome, and is solemnly crowned by these Cardinals appointed by the Pope for that effect.
This year the famous order of the Templars was [repealed] forever, by the private sentence of Pope Clement V., at the instigation of Philip [IV.], the French King, who did accuse them [as] heretics, to obtain [for] himself their possessions in France, which were many and great. So throughout the whole Christian world, in one day, this order was extinguished and suppressed.
In September 1313, King Robert by assault, takes the town of Perth from the English; kills the garrison [of] every mother’s son, fills the [ditches], levels the walls [to] the ground, and burns the town.
This year, also, King Robert takes from the English by force, the castles of Bute, Dumfries, and Dalswinton, all which he levels with the ground; and immediately thereafter, with a fleeing army enters England, crosses the Tyne above Newcastle, and burns Dunelm.
On [St. Wulfric]‘s eve this year [19th Feb], also, did Sir James [the Good] Douglas take the castle of Roxburgh from the English; and on the 14th day of March thereafter, Edinburgh castle was taken by Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, the King’s nephew, and the English garrison [were] put to the sword; as the old rhymes of Magnus, the friar, can bear record.
March is the month, recall that Moray
See Earl Thomas’ grandson, quickly climbing
Prepares, and in the night, Christ accompanied,
Maiden castle, although English is not bitter.
This was the fourteenth of the light complete
For Scots: please return by glory of Christ.
In this year, 1314, the [24th of June], on St. John [the] Baptist’s day, was fought that memorable and famous battle of Bannockburn, near to Stirling, between King Robert I. and King Edward, surnamed Caernarfon, King of England, and 2nd of that name. Most of the writers of the time report that the English army did consist of above a hundred thousand, and the Scots not passing 30000. The total overthrow of the English army in this battle made up all King Robert’s former losses, and enriched his whole army. In this battle the English [lost] above 50000 of their best men, with all their baggage and furniture [artillery, &c.], which was great and rich; their King fled for his life; [Gilbert de Clare] the [Earl] of Gloucester, with above 200 knights and men of quality were killed; John of Brittany, [Earl of Richmond], and 300 knights, noble men, and commanders were taken prisoner. [John] of Brittany was exchanged for King Robert’s wife and the old Bishop of Glasgow [Robert Wishart]. King Robert lost none of note this day but Sir William [de] Vepont and Sir Walter Ross, knights. Amongst the English captives was one [Robert] Baston, a Carmelite friar, a poet, as these days went, whom King Edward had brought with him to sing his triumphs, (for in conceit with his huge army, he had devoured all [of] Scotland, till God confounded him in the midst of his greatest confidence); this poet fell in King Robert’s own hands, and was his own prisoner, with whom he stayed a long while, and wrote in rhyme the passages of that day, and thereafter was nobly rewarded and dismissed.
This same year, also, Edward Bruce, King Robert’s brother, was elected King of Ireland; and this same year, likewise, William [Sinclair], Bishop of Dunkeld, defeated the English at Donibristle, [Cowdenbeath].
This year, 1315, Robert Stewart, the King’s grandchild by his daughter Marjorie, is born, to the great joy of his father Walter, the Great [High] Steward of Scotland.
In this year, 1316, Louis [X.], the French King, departs this mortal life, the 5th day of June, at his castle of Bois de Vincennes; and to him succeeds Philip [V.], (called the Long, son to Philip, the Fair,) excluding the Lady Joan [of Navarre], the daughter of [Louis I., King of Navarre], that, contrary to the salique [French common] law, demanded the crown; and to the Duke of Burgundy [Odo IV.], who pleaded for Joan [Countess of Burgundy], was given (to content him) the daughter of Philip the Long, with the heritable title of Burgundy, erected in a duchy, in marriage.
In the month of October this year, 1317, died Lady Marjorie Bruce, daughter to King Robert I. and mother to King Robert II., and was solemnly interred in the abbey church of Paisley, under a fair monument.
Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, took the town of Berwick from the English, who had possessed it 20 years, the 5th of April 1318.
The 14th of October this year, was fought the battle of Dundalk, in Ireland, wherein the Lord Edward [Bruce], elect King of Ireland, was killed.
King Robert, this year, in a thankful commemoration of his great victory at Bannockburn, gave to the canons of St. Andrews a hundred marks sterling yearly, out of his coffers and exchequer; and for the same cause, William [de] Lamberton, Bishop of St Andrews gave to the said canons the churches of Abercrombie and Dairsie; and Donnchadh, Earl of Fife, with the King’s consent and bishops, gave them also the kirk of Kilgour.
In 1319, Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, wasted the northern parts of England with fire and sword, as far as Wetherby, and fixed his tents at Boroughbridge, in the end of the month of August.
In the beginning of the month of August, King Robert held a parliament at Scone, (by [various people] called the Black Parliament,) wherein there was a great conspiracy detected against the King’s person and crown; and for the same, William Lord Soules, and the Countess of Strathearn, were sentenced to perpetual prison, 5th [of] August, 1320.
Sir David de Brechin. (Called the Flower of Chivalry,) as one accessory to the said conspiracy, and for not revealing the same to the King, (being bound by oath not to reveal it, as he alleged,) had the sentence of death pronounced against him, lost his head; and with him, for the same crime, lost their heads also,
Sir Gilbert de Malherbe,
Sir John Logie, and
Richard Brown [squire].
There was also accused, this same day, as accessories art and part of the said conspiracy,
Sir Eustace Maxwell,
Sir Walter [de] Barclay, Sheriff of Aberdeen,
Sir Patrick Graham,
Hamelin de Troup,
Eustace de Rattray;
but nothing could be proven against them, so they [were] acquitted by the whole estates.
This year died Sir Roger [de] Mowbray, who by sentence of parliament was convicted of treason against the King. His body was ordained to be publicly drawn after horses; but the King’s own goodness would not tyrannise (as he said) over the dead, but commanded his corpse to be interred.
In May, this same year, King Robert being at Berwick, Pope John [XXII.] did send a Nuncio to him, desiring him that he would leave off the destroying any more of the King of England’s dominions, until the Pope was fully informed of the equity and pretended title of the English King to the crown of Scotland: the King gave the Nuncio many fair words, and presently convened the nobility and gentry at the monastery of Arbroath, in April, where they wrote, in a letter [the Declaration of Arbroath*] to the Pope, a particular information of the estate of the kingdom, since King Fergus [Mòr Mac Earca]‘s days; as also of the pretended title of the tyrant of England, King Edward I., and his successor, how unjust and foolish it was, contrary [to] the laws both of God and men. These are the names of the nobility and barons inserted in this letter, viz.
Donnchadh, Earl of Fife,
Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, Lord of
Annandale, and the Isle of Man,
Patrick Dunbar, Earl of March,
Máel Ísu, Earl of Strathearn,
Maol Choluim, Earl of Lennox,
Uilleam, Earl of Ross,
Magnús [Jónsson], Earl of Orkney and Caithness,
William [de Moravia], Earl of Sutherland,
Walter [Stewart], [High] Steward of Scotland,
William de Soules, Butler of Scotland [and Lord of Liddesdale],
James Douglas, [Lord of Douglas],
David de Brechin, [Lord of Brechin],
David [de] Graham [of Kincardine],
Ingram [de] Umfraville,
John [de] Menteith, Tutor of Menteith,
Gilbert [de la] Hay, Great [Lord High] Constable
of Scotland [and Baron of Errol],
Robert Keith, Marischal of Scotland,
Alexander Fraser [of Cowie],
Henry de St. Clair, Pantler of Scotland [and Sheriff of Lanark],
John [de] Graham, [Lord of Dalkeith],
David de Lindsay [of Crawford],
Patrick [de] Graham [of Lovat],
John de Fenton, [Lord of Baikie and Beaufort],
William de Abernethy, [Baron of Saltoun],
David de Wemyss,
William de Mushet,
Fergus [of] Ardrossan,
William de Ramsay,
Alan de Murray,
Domhnall mac Cailein, [Sheriff of Wigtown],
Alexander Seton, [Governor of Berwick],
Andrew [de] Leslie, [Lord of Leslie], and
in name of the whole baronage and commons of the realm of Scotland, &c.
About the beginning of this year, 1321, war arose between the Greek Emperor, Andronikos [II. Palaiologos] the elder, and his grandchild, the younger Andronikos [III. Palaiologos], who having possessed himself of Thrace, and jumbled the whole affairs of the empire by opposing his grandfather; by which wicked and villainous act of his, he weakened the Christian empire, and much advanced the power of the barbarous and inhumane Turks, who had now set a good foot in Europe.
This year, also, Dante [Alighieri], the famous Florentine poet, dies in exile at Ravenna, aged 56.
In the month of February, 1322, Frederick [II.], Duke of Austria, with an army invades Bavaria with fire and sword, and possesses himself of diverse strongholds of the same duchy; against whom Louis [IV.] of Bavaria [Holy Roman Emperor], with a gallant and resolute army, opposes himself against Frederick, overthrows his army, and takes Frederick himself prisoner, and keeps him three full years; and in the meantime, without any competitor, carries himself as Caesar.
This year, also, dies Robert, [Count] of Flanders, called commonly [of] Béthune, a great favourer of [Nicholas of] Lyra, the Jew, that [created the first printed] commentary [on] the whole Bible, and turned Franciscan.
The 5th day of March, in 1323, there was a fair son born to King Robert, at Dunfermline, whom he christened David.
Pope John [XXII.], this year, did [add to the] calendar of saints, Thomas Aquinas.
This year, 1324, the war is renewed between the English and French, wherein Charles of Valois, the French King [Charles IV.]‘s uncle, recovers from the English all [of] Aquitaine [for] his nephew, except the towns of Bordeaux, Borie, and St. Seurin.
In the year 1325, died that worthy nobleman, Charles, [Count] of Valois (in the beginning of the month of December). He was father to Philip of Valois, thereafter King of France [as Philip VI.].
In January, this year, dies Denis, King of Portugal, in the 45th year of his reign; and to him succeeded his son Afonso, the fourth of that name.
This year, 1326, King Robert held a parliament at the monastery of Cambuskenneth, wherein the whole barons of the kingdom did give their oath of homage and fealty to Prince David, and failing him, to Robert Stewart, the King’s grandchild, and an act passed thereon in presence of King Robert himself, and sealed with the seals of all the estates present.
This same year, after the ending of the parliament, Sir Andrew de Moray married the Lady Christina, sister to King Robert.
In the year 1327, the 17th day of July, at Berwick, Prince David solemnly married the Lady Joan [of the Tower], sister to King Edward III. of England; at which marriage there was great triumph and revels.
About the end of March, in the year of our redemption 1328, Louis [IV.] of Bavaria (a sworn enemy to Pope John [XXII.]) comes to Rome, where he is crowned with the 3rd crown, by Sciarra Colonna, where he called a counsel of diverse archbishops, bishops and abbots, that adhered to him, and there began a new schism, for they elected Peter John Olivi, a [Franciscan] of Umbria, Pope, and named him Nicholas V.; this Antipope was elected [on] the 19th day of May this same year.
The 7th of June this year, 1329, died that valiant and famous prince, King Robert I., at Cardross, in the 24th year of his reign, and was interred at Dunfermline in the sepulture of the kings. The King’s corpse no sooner entombed, but immediately the estates, conform[ing] to the deceased King’s will, make Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, Governor during the prince’s [minority].
Thomas Randolph, the Governor, not without the suspicion of poison given [to] him by an English monk, who feigned himself to be a physician, departed this life at Musselburgh in December, 1330, and was interred at Dunfermline.
The 8th of September this same year, Sir James Douglas, that noble knight, in his journey to the Holy Land with the heart of King Robert I. was killed in Spain in a battle against the Moors, with Sir William de St. Clair [of Rosslyn], and Sir Robert Logan [of Restalrig], knights, and diverse others [of] his followers.
* Translation of the Declaration of Arbroath:
“To the most Holy Father and Lord in Christ, the Lord John, by divine providence Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman and Universal Church, his humble and devout sons Duncan, Earl of Fife, Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, Lord of Man and of Annandale, Patrick Dunbar, Earl of March, Malise, Earl of Strathearn, Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, William, Earl of Ross, Magnus, Earl of Caithness and Orkney, and William, Earl of Sutherland; Walter, Steward of Scotland, William Soules, Butler of Scotland, James, Lord of Douglas, Roger Mowbray, David, Lord of Brechin, David Graham, Ingram Umfraville, John Menteith, guardian of the earldom of Menteith, Alexander Fraser, Gilbert Hay, Constable of Scotland, Robert Keith, Marischal of Scotland, Henry Sinclair, John Graham, David Lindsay, William Oliphant, Patrick Graham, John Fenton, William Abernethy, David Wemyss, William Mushet, Fergus of Ardrossan, Eustace Maxwell, William Ramsay, William Mowat, Alan Murray, Donald Campbell, John Cameron, Reginald Cheyne, Alexander Seton, Andrew Leslie and Alexander Straiton, and the other barons and freeholders and the whole community of the realm of Scotland send all manner of filial reverence, with devout kisses of his blessed feet.
Most Holy Father, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. It journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage peoples, but nowhere could it be subdued by any people, however barbarous. Thence it came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to its home in the west where it still lives today. The Britons it first drove out, the Picts it utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, it took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the histories of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all servitude ever since. In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, the line unbroken by a single foreigner.
The high qualities and merits of these people, were they not otherwise manifest, shine forth clearly enough from this: that the King of kings and Lord of lords, our Lord Jesus Christ, after His Passion and Resurrection, called them, even though settled in the uttermost parts of the earth, almost the first to His most holy faith. Nor did He wish them to be confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by the first of His Apostles – by calling, though second or third in rank – the most gentle Saint Andrew, the Blessed Peter’s brother, and desired him to keep them under his protection as their patron for ever.
The Most Holy Fathers your predecessors gave careful heed to these things and strengthened this same kingdom and people with many favours and numerous privileges, as being the special charge of the Blessed Peter’s brother. Thus our people under their protection did indeed live in freedom and peace up to the time when that mighty prince the King of the English, Edward, the father of the one who reigns today, when our kingdom had no head and our people harboured no malice or treachery and were then unused to wars or invasions, came in a guise of a friend and ally to harass them as an enemy. The deeds of cruelty, massacre, violence, pillage, arson, imprisoning prelates, burning down monasteries, robbing and killing monks and nuns and yet other outrages without number which he committed against our people, sparing neither age nor sex, religion nor rank, no-one could describe nor fully imagine unless he had seen them with his own eyes.
But from these countless evils we have been set free, by the help of Him who though He afflicts yet heals and restores, by our most tireless prince, King and lord, the lord Robert. He, that his people and his heritage might be delivered out of the hands of our enemies, bore cheerfully toil and fatigue, hunger and peril, like another Maccabaeus or Joshua. Him, too, divine providence, the succession to his right according to our laws and customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent and assent of us all have made our prince and king. To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought unto our people, we are bound both by his right and by his merits that our freedom may be still maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand.
Yet if he should give up what he has begun, seeking to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own right and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be subjected to the lordship of the English. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.
Therefore it is, Reverend Father and Lord, that we beseech your Holiness with our most earnest prayers and suppliant hearts, inasmuch as you will in your sincerity and goodness consider all this, that, since with Him Whose vice-gerent on earth you are there is neither weighing nor distinction of Jew and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman, you will look with the eyes of a father on the troubles and privations brought by the English upon us and upon the Church of God. May it please you to admonish and exhort the King of the English, who ought to be satisfied with what belongs to him since England used once to be enough for seven kings or more, to leave us Scots in peace, who live in this poor little Scotland, beyond which there is no dwelling-place at all, and covet nothing but our own. We are sincerely willing to do anything for him, having regard to our condition, that we can, to win peace for ourselves.
This truly concerns you, Holy Father, since you see the savagery of the heathen raging against the Christians, as the sins of Christians have indeed deserved, and the frontiers of Christendom being pressed inward every day; and how much it will tarnish your Holiness’s memory if (which God forbid) the Church suffers eclipse or scandal in any branch of it during your time, you must perceive. Then rouse the Christian princes who for false reasons pretend that they cannot go to the help of the Holy Land because of wars they have on hand with their neighbours. The real reason that prevents them is that in making war on their smaller neighbours they find a readier advantage and weaker resistance. But how cheerfully our lord the King and we too would go there if the King of the English would leave us in peace, He from Whom nothing is hidden well knows; and we profess and declare it to you as the Vicar of Christ and to all Christendom.
But if your Holiness puts too much faith in the tales the English tell and will not give sincere belief to all this, nor refrain from favouring them to our undoing, then the slaughter of bodies, the perdition of souls, and all the other misfortunes that will follow, inflicted by them on us and by us on them, will, we believe, be surely laid by the Most High to your charge.
To conclude, we are and shall ever be, as far as duty calls us, ready to do your will in all things, as obedient sons to you as His Vicar, and to Him as the Supreme King and Judge we commit the maintenance of our cause, casting our cares upon Him and firmly trusting that He will inspire us with courage and bring our enemies to nothing.
May the Most High preserve you to His Holy Church in holiness and health for many days to come.
Given at the monastery of Arbroath in Scotland on the sixth day of the month of April in the year of grace thirteen hundred and twenty and the fifteenth year of the reign of our King aforesaid.”
– Translation compiled by Dr Alan Borthwick, National Records of Scotland, June 2005.