Who was he?

Scotland’s great warrior king, Robert Bruce, was crowned in 1306, soon after killing his rival, John Comyn. At first his grip on the country was shaky.

For the next eight years Bruce fought a brutal civil war against his own opponents in Scotland and a guerrilla war of raids and ambushes against occupying English forces. He was careful to avoid full-on confrontations with a far mightier army.

However, in 1314 his brother, Edward Bruce, agreed a deal with Philip Mowbray, keeper of Stirling Castle. A direct confrontation with Edward II’s army now seemed inevitable.

At Bannockburn

Bruce was a skilled tactician who knew that there was no way his men could defeat Edward’s army on the open field. Instead, he concocted a plan to use the landscape around Stirling to his advantage.

After his personal victory over de Bohun on 23 June and the triumph of the spearmen over Clifford’s cavalry, morale in the Scottish army was high. Edward II's army was forced to camp in an awkward position where the Scots could attack them the following morning.

When Alexander Seton left the English army and reported confusion and low morale, Bruce felt doubly encouraged to go for it and rallied his men around him. The next day he led his army to their astonishing victory.

After Bannockburn

Victory at Bannockburn enabled Bruce to recover his wife Elizabeth, daughter Marjory, and sisters Christian and Mary from English captivity, and forced most Scottish landowners to acknowledge him as king. However, he continued to face challenges over his rights.

By 1318 he had managed to restore the border as it had been before the war, but he was then excommunicated by the pope (for a second time) over his unwillingness to accept a proposed papal truce. His excommunication encouraged his enemies within Scotland to plot against him, and between 1319 and 1322 Bruce had to withstand two more English invasions of Scotland.

It wasn’t until May 1328 that the English finally recognised Bruce as King of Scots. He died barely a year later in June 1329.

Fearsome in battle yet a cunning tactician, Bruce has gone down in history as one of Scotland’s most inspiring leaders.