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Stained Glass Window from The Wallace Monument, Stirling representing King Robert The Bruce.


The Bruce family had asserted their claim to the Scottish throne since 1286. It was in this context that Robert gave nominal allegiance to John Balliol who had been appointed to the throne by Edward I.

However, when Balliol rebelled in 1296, the Bruces became increasingly supportive of the English King in the hope of furthering their own cause. This vacillating loyalty continued as Robert participated first in the Wallace rebellion of 1297, and then served Edward from 1302.

In 1306, Bruce headed a new national independence movement in an attempt to promote his claim to the throne. This political campaign, dependent on the support of John Comyn, a representative of the Balliol administration, was doomed. A personal feud between the two men eventually resulted in a showdown at the Greyfriars' Church in Dumfries where Comyn was murdered by Bruce and his supporters.

Bruce was hurriedly crowned King of Scots at Scone, an event which roused Edward to a furious revenge. He systematically killed the Bruce family and took his army north, scattering Robert's troops and forcing his loyal supporters into hiding.

It is said to be at this low point in the fortunes of Robert the Bruce that he is said to have taken inspiration from a spider sharing his hiding place in a cave. The principle of resolute persistence was well made in the manner of her climbing again and again, a wall to build her web. His resolve, following this period of soul-searching, was to wage a campaign of strategic guerilla warfare. This approach made an impressive reduction to the number of English strongholds in Scotland, leaving only Berwick and Stirling.

Confidence in his leadership became hugely reinforced by his greatest military victory - Bannockburn. Despite being vastly outnumbered by well-equipped troops, the superior tactics and morale of his brave soldiers won the day. The English forces were decimated and Edward was forced to flee the field in disgrace. The following year Bruce was unanimously confirmed by Parliament and a detailed Act of succession agreed. The war with England continued intermittently until Scottish Independence was recognised in the Treaty of Northhampton in 1328. Other European countries acknowledged Scotland's new status, and following the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, Robert's excommunication was lifted.

This turn of events allowed him to reassert his royal authority across the realm and prove that his diplomacy and leadership could unite factions who had lost out in the succession battles of the 1290's. He made many legal and political reforms, but his popularity was mainly owing to his concern for the rights of ordinary people. He died of leprosy in 1329, leaving a legacy of continuing Scottish independence and stands arguably as the single most important figure in Scottish history.

Legend has it that Robert the Bruce was on the verge of defeat on the battlefield. Retreating to a cave to consider his next move, he watched a spider stuggling to build its web. Although the web was destroyed several times the spider carried on building until the web was complete. This tiny creature is said to have inspired The Bruce not to give in and go on to defeat the English at Bannockburn.


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