- Robert the Bruce was the hero of the Scottish War of Independence. As Earl of Carrick he swore fealty to Edward I of England at Berwick in 1296, and in 1297 he renewed his oath of homage at Carlisle. Shortly after, with his Carrick vassals, he joined the Scottish revolt under Wallace. However by the Capitulation of Irvine he made his peace with the English monarch.
In 1298 Bruce again rose against Edward after the Scottish defeat at the battle of Falkirk he had his lands wasted by the English. He was one of the four regents of Scotland in 1299, but did not again fight against Edward until the final rising in 1306. He seems to have made an agreement with John Comyn, the nephew of Baliol, over their rival claims to the throne. However when they met in the church of the Minorite Friars, Dumfries, in February 1306, a quarrel took place and in passion Bruce stabbed Comyn, who was then killed by Kirkpatrick. Bruce now assembled his vassals and asserted his rights to the throne. Two months later he was crowned king at Scone.
An English army under the Earl of Pembroke took Perth and drove Bruce into the wilds of Athole. At Dalry near Tydrum Bruce was defeated by Macdougal, the Lord of Lorn, Comyn's uncle, and took refuge in Rathlin off the north coast of Ireland.
In the spring of 1307 Bruce landed in Carrick, surprising and defeating the English garrison in his own castle of Turnberry, and later in the year he defeated the English under the Earl of Pembroke at Loudon Hill. After the death of King Edward I in 1307, the English withdrew from the country and all the great castles were recovered except Stirling, which the governor promised to surrender if not relieved before 24 June. This led to the memorable battle of Bannockburn, 24 June 1314, when the English under Edward II, amounting to 100,000 men, were totally routed by Bruce with 30,000. In 1317 Bruce went over to Ireland to assist his brother Edward, and defeated the Anglo-Irish at Slane.
Until the truce of 1323 the Scots repeatedly invaded England, and on the accession of Edward III in 1327, hostilities recommenced with a great Scottish inroad into the northern counties. The war was at last ended by the Treaty of Northampton (1328), recognising the independence of Scotland, and Bruce's right to the throne.
Bruce died of leprosy at Cardross Castle on the Firth of Clyde. His heart was to be carried to Palestine and buried in Jerusalem. However Douglas, who bore it, was killed fighting against the Moors in Spain, and the sacred relic was brought back to Scotland and buried in Melrose Abbey. Bruce's body was interred in the Abbey of Dunfermline, where his bones were discovered in 1818.
Leo van de Pas – 2008