Robert I of Scotland Biography

Robert I of Scotland
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Robert I of Scotland
Quick Facts

Birthday: July 11, 1274

Nationality: Scottish

Died At Age: 54

Sun Sign: Cancer

Also Known As: Robert the Bruce

Born Country: Scotland

Born in: Turnberry Castle, Scotland

Famous as: King of Scotland

Emperors & Kings Scottish Men


Spouse/Ex-: Elizabeth de Burgh (m. 1302 – 1327), Isabella of Marm (m. 1296 – 1296)

father: Robert de Brus, 6th Lord of Annandale

mother: Countess of Carrick, Marjorie

siblings: Alexander Bruce - Earl of Carrick, Alexander de Brus, Christina Bruce, Edward Bruce, Elizabeth Bruce, Isabel Bruce, Margaret Bruce, Mary Bruce, Matilda Bruce, Nigel de Brus, Thomas de Brus

children: Christina of Carrick, David II of Scotland, Elizabeth Bruce, Isabel de Bruce, John Bruce, Lord of Liddesdale, Margaret Bruce, Marjorie Bruce, Matilda Bruce, Maud Bruce, Niall Bruce of Carrick, Robert Bruce, Robert Bruce - Baron of Liddesdale, Robert Bruce, Lord of Liddesdale, Sir Neil of Carrick, Walter of Odistoun

Died on: June 7, 1329

place of death: Cardross, Scotland

Cause of Death: Leprosy

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Robert I of Scotland was a king of Scotland who is best remembered for securing Scottish independence from England in the early 1300s. He was popularly known as ‘Robert the Bruce.’ He is much loved by the people of Scotland even today for being one of the finest warriors of the country who spearheaded Scotland’s fight for independence. He was born into nobility, received a fine education and was trained as a knight in his youth. He began his career as a ‘Guardian of Scotland’ and later became ‘King of Scots.’ Thereafter, he rebelled against the then successive kings of England, Edward I and II, to fight for Scotland’s independence. He defeated the English armies, most notably at the ‘Battle of Bannockburn’ and became king of independent Scotland. But his title was not officially recognized for a long time. He also advanced Scottish interests in Ireland for a few years. He had two wives and many children. He is revered as a national hero in Scotland and associated with a popular legend related to a spider. He has been depicted in many modern Hollywood films and video games too.
Childhood & Early Life
Robert the Bruce was born on July 11, 1274, Robert VI de Brus, 6th Lord of Annandale, and Marjorie, the Countess of Carrick. Scholars believe that he was probably born at Turnberry Castle in Ayrshire, Scotland. He had nine siblings.
He is believed to have been fluently trilingual; he spoke the Anglo-Norman language of the French ancestors on his father’s side, Gaelic from his mother’s side and the early Scottish language. He had a working knowledge of Latin too.
He is believed to have received a fine education in academic subjects like politics, philosophy, law, history, scripture, etc. and in the sports of swordsmanship, horsemanship, hunting and jousting along with dance, music, etiquette, speech, etc.
Around 1286, he began his training for knighthood. He was knighted a few years later.
In 1292, his mother passed away, and soon after, he was declared the head of the Bruces in Scotland.
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Accession & Reign
In 1297, Robert I joined other Scottish leaders in a rebellion against the king of England, Edward I, when he asked them to join him in battling the French. This resulted in their loss of independence and the rule of England over Scotland.
In 1298, he became the ‘Guardian of Scotland’ along with a Scottish baron and his nemesis, John Comyn. In 1300, he resigned from his position as ‘Guardian of Scotland’ due to his constant differences with Comyn.
In 1304, after his father’s death, Robert the Bruce had a strong claim to the Scottish throne, but so did his rival, Comyn.
In February 1306, Robert the Bruce murdered Comyn, resulting in his excommunication by the pope. In March, he was crowned ‘King of Scots’. In June, he lost in battle to England and fled to an island off Northern Ireland, where he was inspired by a spider to keep on trying until successful.
In 1307, he returned to Scotland and began to aggressively fight Edward I, King of England, and after his death, Edward II.
From 1310-13, he continued his fight for Scottish independence and won many decisive battles, which gave him control of several important Scottish castles.
In 1314, he won the ‘Battle of Bannockburn’ against the formidably large English army, his finest battle ever. Thus, the monarchy of independent Scotland was established.
In 1315, Robert the Bruce invaded Ireland and captured it from the English. In 1316, he made Edward Bruce, his brother, the ‘High King of Ireland’.
In 1318, his campaign in Ireland came to an end after his brother was killed. The same year, he also captured Edward II’s stronghold, Berwick, and raided much of north England.
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In 1320, Scottish nobility declared Robert the Bruce as their king by submitting the ‘Declaration of Arbroath’ to the pope.
In 1324, the pope lifted his excommunication and accepted him as the king of independent Scotland. But Edward II refused to recognize him as such.
In 1328, Edward III signed the ‘Treaty of Northampton’ recognizing Robert the Bruce as the ‘King of Scots’ and accepting Scotland as an independent nation.
Family & Personal Life
In 1295, Robert I of Scotland married Isabella of Mar, with whom he had a daughter, Marjorie.
In 1302, he married Elizabeth de Burgh of Ulster, with whom he had five children: Margaret, Matilda, David, John and Elizabeth.
He also had several illegitimate children from unknown women.
He enjoyed reading historical stories of kings and princes, and he would often read them to his followers or have them read out to him.
On June 7, 1329, he died at his manor in Cardross, Scotland, probably from leprosy; however, the exact cause of his death is unknown.
His body is buried at Dunfermline Abbey, heart at Melrose Abbey, and other internal organs at St. Serf’s Chapel, Dumbarton, Scotland.
He wished to fight in the Crusades but died before that. His trusted aide, Sir James Douglas, then took his heart in a silver casket on the crusade but was killed en route. Thus, the heart was sent back to Scotland.
Statues and monuments dedicated to him can be seen at Edinburgh Castle, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, ’The Battle of Bannockburn Monument’ at Bannockburn, National Wallace Monument in Stirling, etc.
He is said to have married his second wife, Elizabeth, when she was just 13 years of age and he was 28 years old.
In 1995, he was depicted in the Hollywood hit film ‘Braveheart’.
In 1996, he was the subject of the film ‘The Bruce’.
In 2018, he was depicted in the Netflix hit ‘Outlaw King’ and was also featured in a video game ‘Civilization VI: Rise and Fall’.
In 2019, a film ‘Robert the Bruce’ was made on him.

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