1306 - Robert Bruce crowned at Scone

The Bruce Women and the Coronation

Bruce had himself crowned King of Scotland and went into open rebellion against the ailing Edward I. Some of his strongest and bravest supporters were women, such as Christiana, Lady of the Isles, who supplied him with galleys and troops, and the more famous Isabel, Countess of Buchan, who stole away from her pro-English husband in order to crown him. Isabel and the women of Bruce's family suffered terrible fates when they were captured by Edward's forces. He ordered the most active of the women to be confined in wooden cages on the tops of towers, exposed to the elements with only a little privy to which to retreat, yet their fate was better than that of the men who fell into his hands and whom he ordered to be hung, drawn and quartered.
Here is Walter of Guisborough's account of Bruce's coronation and what followed.

At the beginning of AD 1306, the aforesaid Robert de Bruce, on the day of the Annunciation to the Blessed Mary, had himself crowned as King of Scotland at Scone, in the presence and with the agreement of four bishops, five earls and the people of the land. And the wife of the Earl of Buchan, who was the daughter of the Earl of Fife, to whom by hereditary right it belonged to place the crown on the head of the new king, secretly withdrew from her lord, bringing her lord's war-horses which he had sent home, so that she might exercise that office. This angered her lord, who had stood forth in loyalty to the King of England, and since she had been captured in the same year, he wished to kill her, but the King forbade him and ordered her to be placed upon the wall [the top of a tower] of the castle of Berwick, secured in a wooden cage, so that she could be seen and recognised by those passing by. And she remained many days, thus enclosed and on a strict regimen. And the King sent two bishops, namely those of Glasgow and St Andrews in Scotland, together with the Abbot of Scone, since they had been captured the same year, into England to different castles and they remained closely confined until the death of the King. And so once he had heard and learnt of the coronation of the new king, the lord the King of England, on the feast of Pentecost, sent forward with an armed band, some of his soldiers, namely the Lord Henry de Percy, the Lord Aylmer de Valence and the Lord Robert Clifford to oppose the new king and hunt him down . . .
And the new king fled and they pursued him as far as the isle of Kintyre, and they besieged the castle of that place, believing that he had withdrawn into the same place, but he had gone away into the furthest isles of that region. And when the castle had been taken by storm, they found one of the new king's brothers, namely the Lord Neil de Bruce, with the new queen and many others. Taking them with them as far as Berwick in the presence there of the justices of the Lord, the King of England, who by the King's command had assembled in that place, the men were judicially condemned, hanged, drawn and beheaded. And because the new queen was a daughter of the Earl of Ulster, he at the beginning of the war waged by his son-in-law, the Lord Robert de Bruce (lest the lord the King of England should suspect him of any evil against him), sent his two sons to the King to be held fast at the King's good will to excuse himself because he had always shown himself loyal to him. Also on account of one word which she had said to her husband when at his coronation he was speaking to her and said, 'Rejoice now, my wife, because you have been made a Queen and I a King,' she is said to have replied to him, 'I am afraid my Lord that we have been made King and Queen, as boys are made in summer games.' Therefore for those two causes the King sent her with her household to stay at her manor of Brustewych and ordered her to be maintained with honour. [As to] the earl of Atholl, who had fled from that castle and after some interval had been captured, although the Queen of England and many nobles asked the King on his behalf for his life, especially because he was a near relative to the lord the King of England, the King ordered that he should be brought to London and hanged higher than the rest. And because he who had been a prominent blood relation was found to be a traitor, the King ordered him to be beheaded and burned after his hanging, which was done. As to Christopher Seton, who had married the new king's sister, Mary [in fact Christian] by name, although he was English, when he was taken in the castle of Lochdore [Lochdoon Castle] and afterwards his wife and many others, the King ordered that he be taken to Dumfries, where he had killed a soldier, and there to be drawn, hanged and beheaded. His two brothers and others who all agreed to and were present at the death of the lord John Comyn had a similar sentence and this from the King's special command. However, the King placed Christopher's wife in the monastery of Thyxsel, in Lindesay [Sixhills, Lincolnshire], and he placed the new king's daughter in the monastery of Watthon [Watton, Yorkshire].

Translated by J. Russell, Chronicle of Walter of Guisborough, ed. H. Rothwell, Camden Society, 1957.

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