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Bruce, Robert

Bruce, Robert (1210–95). Known as the ‘Competitor’. Leading member of the 13th-cent. Scottish nobility and grandfather of King Robert I. His extensive lands stretched from Middlesex to Aberdeenshire, the most important concentrations lying in Essex, Co. Durham, and south-west Scotland, where he held the great lordship of Annandale, granted to the Bruces (who came originally from Brix in Normandy) by David I. His long career vividly illustrates the comparatively easy-going nature of Anglo-Scottish relations before the Wars of Independence, when a significant number of landowners held prominence on both sides of the border. His transnational interests are reflected in his marriage to Isabel de Clare, daughter of the earl of Gloucester. He also served as sheriff of Cumberland and supported Henry III against Simon de Montfort at the battle of Lewes. A truly cosmopolitan figure, he went on crusade to the Holy Land (1271–2), and on his return journey granted lands, probably in Annandale, to Clairvaux abbey in Burgundy. Descended through his mother from David I, he was one of the chief claimants or ‘competitors’ for the vacant Scottish throne in 1291–2, and was bitterly disappointed when Edward I declared in favour of John Balliol, though Balliol's case was in fact legally stronger. He did not contest the decision, but the family never abandoned its claims to the kingdom, which were finally realized in 1306. He died at Lochmaben castle in Annandale, and was buried in Guisborough priory (Yorks.), founded by the Bruces in the early 12th cent.

Keith J. Stringer

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Bruce, Robert

Bruce, Robert (d. 1304). Eldest son of Robert Bruce (d. 1295) and father of Robert I. His marriage to Marjorie, widow of Adam of Kilconquhar, brought him the earldom of Carrick in about 1272—a promotion which involved the Bruces in territorial rivalry with their neighbour John Balliol, lord of Galloway—and he succeeded to his family's Anglo-Scottish patrimony some 20 years later. Bruce–Balliol rivalry intensified when Robert's father and John Balliol were the main challengers for the Scottish throne in 1291–2. When Balliol was enthroned, Robert refused to recognize him, thereby keeping his family's claims to the Scottish crown alive. He provided his son, the future king, with a power base by assigning Carrick to him, and on the outbreak of the Scottish Wars of Independence, his anti-Balliol stance led him to support Edward I. After the English victory at Dunbar (27 April 1296), he asked for the Scottish throne—a request to which Edward famously responded: ‘Have we nothing else to do but win kingdoms for you?’ Despite this rebuff, Robert remained in the English allegiance until his death, when he was buried in Holm Cultram abbey (Cumberland).

Keith J. Stringer

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