Author(s): STEPHEN SPINKS
Robert the Bruce is a man of both history and legend. In his lifetime he secured Scottish independence in the face of English imperial aggression then under the leadership of Edward I and then Edward II. He was the victor of Bannockburn, a self-made king against the odds, and is marked in history as a champion of the Scottish nation. And yet the life and career of Bruce is not always so straightforward. Stephen Spinks seeks to examine this most enigmatic of kings beyond the myths and legends to reveal him both in the context of his time, his people and in his actions. Stephen shows that Bruce was a complex man, confronted by hardships and difficult and often dangerous decisions. He was never born to rule and yet his kingship resounds even today. As the murderer of John Comyn, a rival for the Scottish crown, he sent shockwaves across Europe and received the condemnation of kings and popes. He battled against a divided Scotland to secure his rule, invaded Ireland with his brother Edward, and systematically fought a guerrilla war against the English and won. He was at times a desperate man. Yet he also cultivated the symbols of kingship, was pious and cared and fought deeply for his fiercely held rights and beliefs. Bruce not only unified his kingdom and secured its independence, but forged a far-reaching legacy that, even now, lives on.