Edward Bruce

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Bruce, Edward (d. 1318). Brother of Robert I king of Scots, earl of Carrick from 1313, titular king of Ireland (1315–18). Edward Bruce was an outstanding if savage soldier, but arrogant and over-ambitious. As soon as Robert I took the throne in 1306, Edward became one of his foremost commanders. In 1308 he ravaged Galloway, confining English authority in the area to a few castles, which were gradually reduced until 1313; further campaigns followed, culminating in the siege of Stirling castle which began in 1313. It is likely that a wearisome siege was not quite Edward's idea of war; and he made an agreement with the English commander Philip Mowbray that the castle would surrender if not relieved within a year. This meant that Edward II would have to attempt to relieve it, which displeased Robert I, since his policy was always to avoid a pitched battle and rely on guerrilla tactics. However, battle could not be avoided. At Bannockburn (24 June 1314), Edward was in command of the leading brigade. In August 1314, he was among the leaders of a raid into north-east England, which caused widespread damage. In the Parliament of 1315, he was rewarded by being made heir presumptive to the Scottish throne, in the (unlikely) event that Robert I would die without a direct male heir.

It seems that Edward was not satisfied, and felt that, while his brother was king, he could not achieve what he deserved in Scotland. With Robert's full backing, he embarked on an expedition to Ireland. He seems to have landed in Ulster at the end of May 1315, with the support of Ulster nobles, who had close links with Scotland; but then forced them to acknowledge him as king of Ireland, implying an intention to conquer the whole island. He proceeded to the south, ravaging as usual as he went; but did not find the support he expected. By October 1316, he wrote to the Welsh suggesting that he should join them in an attempt to expel the English from Wales, and that he should become prince of Wales as well as king of Ireland! There was so little reality in all this that in 1317, his brother had to come briefly to his aid in Ireland, but with little success. Edward's position as king was impossible to sustain; and in October 1318 he was killed in battle at Faughart, near Dundalk.

Bruce Webster

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Edward Bruce. See Bruce, Edward.