Outlaw King Robert the Bruce

Outlaw King Robert the Bruce

Outlaw King Robert the Bruce

Released on Netflix recently, Outlaw King is a film that follows the story of Robert the Bruce as he is forced into exile by the English, and how he fights back to reclaim the throne. It stars Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce, and a cast full of A-list stars.

 Essentially, it is a biopic film which details the life of the King of Scots, who was one of the most famous warriors of 14th century Scotland. His revolutionary ways started the First War of Scottish Independence and made Scotland what it is today.

His life and times

The Outlaw King was born in Turnberry Castle, in Ayrshire on the 11th July 1274, which now only stands as rubble and ruins. However, when it stood, Robert the Bruce used the castle’s boathouse as a means of taking the English garrison by surprise when they tried to attack.

Recently, however, there have been claims that he was in fact born in Essex, in England. These astonishing and controversial claims were made by Dr Fiona Watson, a historian who suggests that he was in fact born in a small village in Chelmsford.

In 1306, he was crowned as the King of Scots at Scone Palace, near Perth, Scotland. This historic house was also the crowning place of many other kings, including Macbeth, and Charles II.

At his death, in June of 1329, Robert was spending his final years in Cardross, in Argyll, where it is believed that he had a castle, although no site has been confirmed as such. Instead, he stayed in a ‘manororium’ or manor house, which had a hunting park attached called King’s Park.

His final resting place is split between three different religious buildings: his body was laid to rest In Dunfermline Abbey, his heart can be found at Melrose Abbey, and his internal organs have been embalmed and are kept at St Serf’s Chapel in Dumbarton. All of these are located within Scotland, keeping his beliefs about Scottish independence with him after he died.

Statues and Commemorations

To commemorate his life, and all that he did for Scotland, there is a statue of Robert the Bruce at the entrance to Edinburgh Castle. On the other side of the door joining Robert is a statue of William Wallace, another prominent figure in the fight for Scottish independence, brought to mainstream knowledge through the film Braveheart.

Robert the Bruce’s Descendants

There are many Scottish natives, and people of other nationalities, who claim to be direct descendants of Robert the Bruce. Many of his descendants moved to America and spread the genealogy within those areas. Recently, Meghan Markle, who recently married Prince Harry, has been reported to be a direct descendant of the King of Scots, after tracing a direct line back through 25 generations of the family tree.

Another descendant is the Earl of Elgin, a title given to Thomas Bruce in 1633, and a title which has been carried through various generations of the Bruce’s to the present day. Today, Andrew Bruce is the11th Earl of Elgin and he currently resides at Broomhall House in Fife, which has been the stately home and seat of all of the Earls past and present. Contrary to the beliefs of his ancestors, Andrew Bruce recently voted No to Scottish independence in the 2014 Scottish referendum vote.

Robert the Bruce and the Spider

The legend of Robert the Bruce and the spider is a tale that all Scottish and some English pupils will know well. Many of the details are not clear, so there are some differences in the story depending on where or who you hear it from.

The story goes that after being defeated by the English in the early days of his reign as the King of Scots, Robert the Bruce was driven into exile. To escape any potential threat, he sought shelter and solace in a small, secluded cave. Here, he spent some of his time watching a spider make its web.

Many times the spider would fall, but would then get back up again and go right back to work. This inspired him, and the old adage of ‘If at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again’ was born.

After this experience in the cave, Robert emerged and went on to defeat the English at the Battle of Bannockburn. There are many caves around Scotland and some of Ireland are said to be the cave where this happened, but no one place has been confirmed, and nor has the story.

Robert the Bruce in Fiction

Throughout fiction, in particular, Scottish fiction works, Robert the Bruce has been used as a character, or just as inspiration. There are also many different historical volumes and works that have been made on the subject. You can buy Scottish history books online at our store.

Nigel Tranter, in particular, was a Scottish author who wrote many books and historical novels that explored the Outlaw King’s life. For example, he wrote The Isleman, a story depicting one of Robert the Bruce’s followers. This well-loved author wrote over 90 books on Scottish history, many of which you can find on our online bookstore.

We have many other Scottish hardback books, as well as Scottish paperback books on the subject, including King and Outlaw: The Real Robert the Bruce by Chris Brown. This book takes a further look at the King of Scot’s life and was used as the basis behind the new Netflix special.

Hopefully, this article has gotten you ready for watching Outlaw King and given you some new insights into Robert the Bruce’s trials and tribulations. If you want to learn more about this rebellious Scot, why not take a look through our Scottish history section on our online Scottish bookshop?



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