"For as long as one hundred of us shall remain alive,
we shall never in any wise consent submit to the rule of the English,
for it is not for glory we fight, nor riches, or for honour,
but for freedom alone, which no good man loses but with his life."
— Robert the Bruce at the Declaration of Arbroath.
Robert I (11 July 1274 – 7 June 1329), better known as Robert the Bruce
, was the first Scottish monarch of the Bruce line. He was a major player in the Scottish Wars of Independence and ultimately lead Scotland to freedom. Today revered in Scotland as their greatest national hero, Robert is something of a Folk Hero
in those parts, representing the Scottish Spirit and bravery, and usually considered a national symbol.
Robert the Bruce first entered the annals of history as a heir of the House of Bruce
, his grandfather (Also named Robert
) was one of many claimants to the throne of Scotland in the Succession Crisis
that came after King Alexander the Third. The Elder Bruce lost, and John Balliol was crowned King. The Elder Bruce resigned
and retired. But it is said his teachings and actions greatly affected the Young Robert, inspiring him to his later actions.
Robert the Bruce then grew up believing the same thing his grandfather believed: The Bruces were the rightful kings of Scotland.
John Balliol's (now King John) reign was brief and fruitless, with the King being mostly bossed around by Edward Hammer of the Scots
. Soon a War between the Scots and the English began, and after a short series of conflict, King John abdicated.
Scotland was essentially left kingless, and Edward was the de facto
ruler of the country. A series of rebellions sparked the war anew, and Robert the Bruce participated intensively in them as one of the leading generals in the Scottish side (but make no mistake, the man switched sides a lot
). After several decades of strife, Robert the Bruce emerged as the sole victor and rightful king of Scotland.
In his rule he secured Scotland's position as a independant nation in the eyes of the english and the world. He later attempted to unify Scotland and Ireland, but his plans did not come into fruition. He died of some unspecified disease not too long thereafter.
Tropes related to Robert the Bruce
- An Axe to Grind: His Weapon of Choice. Usually portrayed with it in paintings.
- Arch-Enemy: John "Red" Comyn, as the Bruce as the Comyn clans hated each other for a long time, and of course, King Edward.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Contemporary sources usually cite him as quite a capable warrior in the battlefield and a fine tactician. Illustrated in Bannockburn, where Robert fought and killed Henry de Bohun in single combat.
- Badass: He was very skilled in combat.
- Bash Brothers: One of his chief generals was his brother, Edward Bruce. Also with Sir James Douglas (Good Sir James or the Black Douglas, depending on which side of the border you)
- Bond One-Liner: A truly cinematographic one. After splitting De Bohun's head in two with an axe, Robert's only comment was lamenting he broke the shaft of his favorite axe.
- Brave Scot: A Trope Codifier.
- The Chessmaster: Robert maneuvered the political game for his own favor across the entire war, underming political oponentes and acquiring allies left and right. It is one of the main reasons he won.
- The Clan: The heir of the House of Bruce, and the one who established it as a royal lineage.
- Combat Pragmatist: Robert the Bruce did not play fair. Of note is his murder of Red Comyn, summoning your foe to a peaceful meeting in a Church and then stabbing him to death is very ruthless, but hey, it worked.
- Darkest Hour: His was the Battle of Methven. When the battle was through, his army was completely destroyed, his generals captured or severely wounded and he became a Noble Fugitive for several months.
- The Determinator: The man soldiered on through some truly ashtonishing losses.
- Dwindling Party: The Bruces. By the start of the War, they were five male heirs. By the end of the war Robert was the only one left.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After decades of war, he was finally made King of a Independant Scotland. The notability of this is often mentioned when talking about his death, most sources say "he died, all his wishes fulfilled" or something similar.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Depending on the source, Red Comyn may have betrayed Robert to Edward, by telling him his plans, and Robert killed Comyn in rage for the betrayal. Other versions show Robert simply murdering him because he hated him.
- Feuding Families: House of Comyn and House of Bruce. After what was essentially a Scottish civil war between them, Robert decided to put an end to it. Permanently.
- Fiery Redhead
- Foil: It could be said he was one for King Edward. They were both highly skilled generals in tactics and combat who would not stop at anything for the Crown, but Robert is usually seen as a heroic character, while Edward is famed as a villain.
- Folk Hero: Scotland's major one.
- Geo Effects: His strategy was entirely based on his superb knowledge of the Scottish geography. His army may have been ill-equipped and ill-trained, but he pulled off victories by taking advantage of the field itself.
- Handicapped Badass: Sources claim Robert fought the Battle of Inverurie while violently ill.
- The Hero: Popularly seen as such of the Scottish War of Independance, with James Douglas "The Black" as The Big Guy, His brother Edward as The Lancer, Andrew Moray as The Smart Guy and Red Comyn as the Token Evil Teammate. Reality is a bit murkier.
- Heel-Face Revolving Door: He started with the English, sided with the Scots, then returned to the English, then finally to the Scots. All part of his political game.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: His more heinous acts are often brushed over (such as his murder of Red Comyn mentioned above) and his more Machievellian personality traits ignored.
- Hot-Blooded: At some points.
- King on His Deathbed: A very dramatic case. He assembled most of his lieutenants to discuss his last wish.
- Last Request: For his heart to be carried in a Crusade to Jerusalém and then brought back to be buried. His wish, surprisingly enough, was granted, and his heart travelled and saw some bizarre post-mortem adventures before being buried in the place Robert requested.
- Name's the Same: His father and his grandfather and his great-grandfather were also named Robert the Bruce. Family meetings must have been amusing.
- Robert was fought and opposed by three separate Lord John Comyns
- Noble Fugitive: Upon the destruction of his army, he became this for a few months.
- Plot Triggering Death: His murder of Red Comyn essentially re-triggered the War of Scottish Independence after Edward had all but won.
- The Purge: Effectively what he did to the Comyn clan, in the most controversial act of his life.
- The Rival: He and Red Comyn probably spent more time plotting against each other than fighting the English. Add to that the fact both were claimants to the throne. It did not end well for Comyn.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: One of the most triumphant examples in Scotland.
- Shoot the Dog: His destruction of Clan Comyn is an example of ruthless pragmatism. Clan Comyn had stood in his way across the entire war, and this action essentially broke their spirit and all chances of opposing him.
- Stealth Expert: After his army was nearly destroyed early in his campaign, he effectively vanished from the map. Robert managed to rebuild his army with inhuman secrecy.
- The Strategist: The War's best, quite possibly. One of the assumed másters of guerrilla warfare.
- Took a Level in Badass: In his solo campaign he was soundly defeated and his army massacred, and the English essentially dismissed him as a joke. One year later he returned and trampled underfoot all of his foes.
- True Companions: While he was known for being a bit scheming, he seems to have had true friendship towards "Black" Douglas and Williiam Lamberton, two of his closest allies.
- Unexplained Recovery: He fell greatly ill mid-way through his campaign and got very close to dying. With no adequate explanation he got better and proceeded his war.
- What the Hell, Hero?: His Harrying of Buchan, in which he burned to the ground the land of the Comyns in order to prevent them from rising against him again is not seen very well by modern historians.