Robert the Bruce

Robert the Bruce is remembered as a great warrior and the king who won Scotland its freedom during the Wars of Independence.

Find out about Robert the Bruce

Who was Robert the Bruce?

Robert came from a noble family that had a claim to the throne of Scotland.

After the death of Alexander III and Margaret, Maid of Norway, Robert's grandfather almost became King of Scots in 1292. John Balliol became king in stead.

The Bruce family held a lot of land in England and sometimes the family supported with the English king, Edward I.

After Edward I defeated the Scottish army at the Battle of Dunbar and got rid of King John Balliol in 1296 , Bruce supported the rebellion against Edward's control.

19th century engraving showing what Robert the Bruce might have looked like.

How did Bruce become king?

First, Bruce joined the rebellion that had begun with William Wallace's battles at Stirling Bridge and Falkirk.

After Wallace went into hiding after defeat at the Battle of Falkirk, Bruce was made a Guardian of Scotland. Bruce had bigger ambitions, though - he wanted to be king.

In 1306 he met his main rival for the throne of Scotland, John Comyn, at Greyfriars Monastery in Dumfries, to discuss who should be king and fight back against Edward I.

A fight broke out and Comyn was killed. The church supported Bruce and later that year he was made King of Scots.

Bruce facts

  • Robert was born in 1274 - probably in Ayrshire
  • In February 1306 he stabbed his rival, John Comyn, in Greyfriars Monastery, Dumfries
  • In March 1306 Robert the Bruce became King of Scotland
  • In June 1314 he won his greatest victory at the Battle of Bannockburn
  • He died in 1329
  • His body is buried at Dunfermline Abbey but his heart is buried at Melrose Abbey

How did Bruce free Scotland?

Bruce didn't get off to a great start. He was defeated at the Battle of Methven in 1306, had his wife and daughter and his sisters captured and his brothers killed by the English.

Bruce went on the run but then returned and started to attack the castles that English forces controlled in Scotland.

Finally, King Edward II - the son of Edward I - marched an army north to find and beat Bruce.

At the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, Bruce defeated Edward's army. In 1329 Scotland and England signed a peace treaty. The Wars of Independence were over!

A modern recreation of Scottish soldiers at the Battle of Bannockburn.

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