The lifes of Robert Bruce and Robert the Bruce

Robert Bruce – Clergyman of Edinburgh. You want to learn a little bit more about Edinburgh history? Then follow this brief introduction to one of Edinburgh’s most important clergymen: Robert Bruce! He should not be confused with Robert the Bruce we all know from Braveheart with Mel Gibson…The Robert Bruce we are talking about was […]

Robert Bruce – Clergyman of Edinburgh. You want to learn a little bit more about Edinburgh history? Then follow this brief introduction to one of Edinburgh’s most important clergymen: Robert Bruce! He should not be confused with Robert the Bruce we all know from Braveheart with Mel Gibson…The Robert Bruce we are talking about was born in 1554 and died in 1631 at the age of 77.

He was one of Edinburgh’s famous clergymen. He descended from the Bruces of Kinnaird but followed his own way. Receiving a good education in law, he, however, decided to take up the study of theology against his family’s will. The period he lived in was quite dangerous for churchmen, that is why he had to resign his rights to the family estate. Being a noble-man, he did so without hesitation. Bruce became a powerful and brilliant preacher as the minister of St. Giles after John Knox’s death in 1572. This was an important position in Edinburgh. King James VI. was impressed by Bruce and held him as his favourite preacher. Because of the royal approval, his family decided to restore him to the estate’s titles in 1590. Nevertheless, Bruce went on serving Edinburgh, and became Moderator to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland twice. His fame spread across the city’s boundaries because of the power of his sermons on the Lord’s supper. His life was not without travel, though. Despite the fact that he was favoured by the king, he had no subservient intentions in mind. He criticised the king in public and was therefore sent into exile to France. In 1603 he was allowed to return to Scotland but had to stay on his family’s estate. He was allowed to preach again in 1629. According to his personal power, it is said that there were more than 5,000 mourners at his funeral in 1631. St. Giles, his most important working place, can be visited today on the Royal Mile.

Robert the Bruce. In 1314, Robert the Bruce, also known as Robert I of Scotland, did what many before him had attempted and failed to do—secured Scottish independence from the English. After the death of the heirless King Alexander III in 1286, Scotland was left without a monarch. For the next twenty years, different aristocratic Scottish families contested their right to reign, and at the same time, the country fought against England and Edward I, who wanted to govern Scotland himself. The Bruces were one of the families who made a claim to the throne, and who were against Edward’s rule and manipulation of Scottish government. After William Wallace gave up his role of Guardian of Scotland in 1298, Bruce became co-guardian with John Comyn, one of his Scottish rivals to the crown. In 1306, a quarrel between the two lead to Comyn’s death, and in a do or die situation, Robert the Bruce officially proclaimed his right to be King of the Scots. In March 1307, Bruce was crowned king, and for the next several years, he waged war against the English, Edward I, and later, Edward II. Finally, in June 1314, a decisive victory at the Battle of Bannockburn secured Bruce’s position as King. However, it wasn’t until 1320 that the Declaration of Arbroath officially asserted the right of the Scots to rule themselves with their own monarchy, and another four years passed before Bruce received papal recognition as monarch of a free Scotland. In 1329, the man later referred to as having a ‘brave heart,’ and the hero of his people, passed away. However, today, his image graces everything from statues to currency, and his legacy as a crusader for Scottish freedom will never be forgotten.

Team Edinburgh September/Oktober 2009

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