Who was he?

Merciless, savage and crafty, James Douglas was one of the most dangerous Scottish war leaders.

His father fought with Wallace and died in the Tower of London, after which his family’s lands had been given to the English Cliffords. Douglas was on a personal mission of revenge.

Around 1307 he joined Bruce and became known by the English as ‘Black Douglas’ for his ruthless treatment of English garrisons. He regularly burned crops, slaughtered livestock and spread fear amongst English forces with his brutality and cunning in winning back castles and power for his king.

At Bannockburn

Early on 23 June, Douglas may have led a group of cavalry to report on the advance of Edward’s army. Though one source claims he led an entire division of his own, Douglas probably served in Edward Bruce’s division, fighting hand to hand alongside his men.

With victory assured and the English army in retreat, he pursued the fleeing Edward II with a posse of horsemen but was unable to prevent the king escaping by boat from Dunbar.

After Bannockburn

Douglas fought on for Bruce’s cause, and also became one of Bruce's closest councillors.

After Bruce’s death in 1329, Douglas carried the king’s heart with him on a crusade but, warrior to the end, was killed fighting in Spain in 1330. This earned him the enduring title of ‘Good Sir James’. His descendents even adopted the 'bludy hart' of Bruce in their heraldry in memory of his final service to King Robert.