The House of Bruce

While John Balliol had been King – his strongest competition for the throne, Robert the Bruce became a Guardian of Scotland in 1298 alongside another rival for the throne John Comyn, and William Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews. Bruce resigned as guardian in 1300 due in part to his quarrels with Comyn but chiefly because the restoration of King John seemed imminent. In 1302, he submitted to Edward I and returned to “the king’s peace”. When his father died in 1304, Bruce inherited his family’s claim to the throne. In February 1306, following an argument during a meeting at Greyfriars monastery, Dumfries, Bruce killed Comyn. He was excommunicated by the Pope but absolved by Robert Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow.

Robert the Bruce Crowned

Robert the Bruce Crowned

Bruce moved quickly to seize the throne and was crowned king of Scots on 25 March 1306, at Scone. He was to go onto  lead the fight for Scottish independence against Edward I of England. Battles were lost and Bruce’s army were defeated. Bruce was forced into hiding. He returned in 1307 to defeat the English at Loudon Hill.






A depiction of the Battle of Bannockburn from a 1440s manuscript of Walter Bower's Scotichronicon. This is the earliest known depiction of the battle

A depiction of the Battle of Bannockburn from a 1440s manuscript of Walter Bower’s Scotichronicon. This is the earliest known depiction of the battle

In 1309 Bruce held his first parliament at St Andrews. There were a series of Military victories and gained control of much of Scotland. At the Battle of Bannockburn in June 1314, Bruce was victorious this marked a significant turning point in Scottish history. Afterwards Bruce and his army launched devastating raids on Northern England. His younger brother was also sent to invade Ireland.

After Balliol’s reign and the ragman rolls the English King, now Edward II was refusing to give up his claim on the overlordship of Scotland. In 1320, the Scottish magnates and nobles submitted The Declaration of Arbroath to Pope John XXII, declaring Bruce as their rightful monarch and asserting Scotland’s status as an independent kingdom. In 1324, the Pope recognised Bruce as king of an independent Scotland.

The crown passed from Robert the Bruce to his only surviving son, who was born in 1324 when Bruce was aged 50. David was only 5 years old when his father died. The young boy was already married, at the age of four he was married to Joan, sister of Edward III of England, she was an older lady at 7 years old. On Bruces death the young boy was crowned holding a sceptre that was specially made for him.



King Edward III and David II of Scotland, 1390

King Edward III and David II of Scotland

David II was King of Scotland from 7 June 1329 to 22 February 1371. His succession to the throne caused immediate problems. The English had been quite happy to be paid 20,000 marks under the terms of the Treaty of Edinburgh & Northampton, but they then started questioning whether the other terms were enforceable given Edward III’s age at the time the treaty was signed. They refused to return the Stone of Destiny to the Scots as provided for under the treaty. More importantly, Edward III, decided to support the claim of Edward Balliol, the eldest son of John Balliol to the Scottish crown in preference to the claim of David II.

With English support Balliol invaded Scotland, and defeated the Scots at the Battle of Dupplin in Perthshire on 12 August 1332.  He was made King of Scots at Scone on 24 September. In July 1333 Balliol and his English supporters were again victorious, this time at the battle of Haildon Hill. David and Joanna fled to Dumbarton Castle, en route to refuge in France. During much of David’s absence the struggle between the Guardian of Scotland, Sir Andrew Murray, acting on David’s behalf, and John Balliol supported by Edward III, flowed backwards and forwards. Balliol was only finally chased from the country by Sir Andrew Murray in 1337, when he found Edward III more interested in war with France than in yet another invasion of Scotland in support of Balliol’s claim to the throne.

David returned to Scotland in June 1341, and took personal control of the country. In 1346 he invaded England in support of France. David lost the Battle of Neville’s Cross on 17 October 1346 and was taken prisoner. He was to remain a fairly comfortably kept captive in England for eleven years, until the Treaty of Berwick was agreed in October 1357. This allowed David to return to Scotland in exchange for a vast ransom of 100,000 marks, payable in instalments. David had probably acknowledged Edward III as his feudal superior while in captivity, thus undoing his father’s main achievement.

The Scots was able to pay a number of instalments of the ransom through heavy taxation of an already fragile economy, but David caused rebellion at home when he offered to name King Edward III or one of his sons the heir to the Scottish throne in return for writing off the debt. It seems likely that David continued secret negotiations with Edward to have Lionel, Duke of Clarence, declared his heir: and meanwhile there are suggestions he was using taxes raised to pay his ransom for his own purposes.

David died, without an heir, on 22 February 1371 in Edinburgh Castle.

Kings from The House of Bruce


Robert I (The Bruce) (1306-1329)

Robert I (The Bruce) (1306-1329)

David II (1329-1371)

David II (1329-1371)