The Info List - Declaration Of Arbroath

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The DECLARATION OF ARBROATH is a declaration of Scottish independence , made in 1320. It is in the form of a letter in Latin
submitted to Pope John XXII
Pope John XXII
, dated 6 April 1320, intended to confirm Scotland
's status as an independent, sovereign state and defending Scotland's right to use military action when unjustly attacked.

Generally believed to have been written in the Arbroath Abbey
Arbroath Abbey
by Bernard of Kilwinning
Bernard of Kilwinning
, then Chancellor of Scotland
and Abbot of Arbroath , and sealed by fifty-one magnates and nobles , the letter is the sole survivor of three created at the time. The others were a letter from the King of Scots
King of Scots
, Robert I , and a letter from four Scottish bishops which all presumably made similar points.


* 1 Overview * 2 Debates * 3 Signatories * 4 Manuscript copies * 5 List of signatories * 6 Legacy * 7 See also * 8 References * 9 Sources * 10 External links


The Declaration was part of a broader diplomatic campaign which sought to assert Scotland's position as an independent kingdom, rather than being a feudal land controlled by England's Norman kings, as well as lift the excommunication of Robert the Bruce . The Pope had recognised Edward I of England
Edward I of England
's claim to overlordship of Scotland
in 1305 and Bruce was excommunicated by the Pope for murdering John Comyn before the altar in Greyfriars Church in Dumfries in 1306.

The Declaration made a number of points: that Scotland
had always been independent, indeed for longer than England; that Edward I of England had unjustly attacked Scotland
and perpetrated atrocities; that Robert the Bruce had delivered the Scottish nation from this peril; and, most controversially, that the independence of Scotland was the prerogative of the Scottish people, rather than the King of Scots. In fact it stated that the nobility would choose someone else to be king if Bruce proved to be unfit in maintaining Scotland's independence.


Some have interpreted this last point as an early expression of 'popular sovereignty ' – that government is contractual and that kings can be chosen by the community rather than by God alone. Modern Scottish nationalists point to the “Declaration" as evidence of the long-term persistence of the Scots as a distinct national community, giving a very early date for the emergence of nationalism . However "the overwhelming majority of academics challenge this vision. Scholars point out that definitions change with time. The meaning ascribed to words similar to nation during the ancient and medieval periods was often quite different than it is today."

It has also been argued that the Declaration was not a statement of popular sovereignty (and that its signatories would have had no such concept) but a statement of royal propaganda supporting Bruce's faction. A justification had to be given for the rejection of King John Balliol in whose name William Wallace
William Wallace
and Andrew de Moray had rebelled in 1297. The reason given in the Declaration is that Bruce was able to defend Scotland
from English aggression whereas, by implication, King John could not.

“ To this man, in as much as he saved our people, and for upholding our freedom, we are bound by right as much as by his merits, and choose to follow him in all that he does. ”

Whatever the true motive, the idea of a contract between King and people was advanced to the Pope as a justification for Bruce's coronation whilst John de Balliol still lived in Papal custody.


There are 39 names—eight earls and thirty one barons —at the start of the document, all of whom may have had their seals appended, probably over the space of some weeks and months, with nobles sending in their seals to be used. On the extant copy of the Declaration there are only 19 seals, and of those 19 people only 12 are named within the document. It is thought likely that at least 11 more seals than the original 39 might have been appended. The Declaration was then taken to the papal court at Avignon by Bishop Kininmund, Sir Adam Gordon and Sir Odard de Maubuisson. The most-cited passages of the Declaration, translated from the Latin
original as displayed on the walls of the National Museum of Scotland

The Pope heeded the arguments contained in the Declaration, influenced by the offer of support from the Scots for his long-desired crusade if they no longer had to fear English invasion. He exhorted Edward II in a letter to make peace with the Scots, but the following year was again persuaded by the English to take their side and issued six bulls to that effect.

On 1 March 1328 the new English king , Edward III signed a peace treaty between Scotland
and England , the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton . In this treaty, which was in effect for five years until 1333, Edward renounced all English claims to Scotland. Eight months later, in October 1328, the interdict on Scotland, and the excommunication of its king, were removed by the Pope.


The original copy of the Declaration that was sent to Avignon is lost. A copy of the Declaration survives among Scotland's state papers, held by the National Archives of Scotland
in Edinburgh
. The most widely known English language translation was made by Sir James Fergusson , formerly Keeper of the Records of Scotland
, from text that he reconstructed using this extant copy and early copies of the original draft. One passage in particular, strongly suggesting Sallust (86–35 BC) as the direct source, is often quoted from the Fergusson translation:

“ ...for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself. ”


Here are the signatories of the Declaration of Arbroath
Declaration of Arbroath
in 1320. They are an interesting list; although it includes several consistent Bruce loyalists, it includes others who had opposed Bruce, or whom Bruce tried for plotting against him a few months later, and others of whom little is known.

The declaration itself is written in Latin. It uses the Latin versions of the signatories' titles, and in some cases the spelling of names has changed over the years. This list generally uses the titles of the signatories' biographies.

* Duncan, Earl
of Fife (changed sides in 1332) * Thomas Randolph, Earl
of Moray (important Bruce supporter although briefly fought for the English in the past) * Patrick Dunbar, Earl
of March (or Earl
of Dunbar) (changed sides a few times) * Malise, Earl
of Strathearn (Bruce loyalist) * Malcolm, Earl
of Lennox (Bruce loyalist) * William, Earl
of Ross (earlier betrayed Bruce's female relatives to the English) * Magnús Jónsson, Earl
of Orkney * William de Moravia, Earl
of Sutherland * Walter, High Steward of Scotland
(Bruce loyalist) * William de Soules , Lord of Liddesdale and Butler of Scotland (later imprisoned for plotting against Bruce) * Sir James Douglas , Lord of Douglas (leading Bruce loyalist) * Roger de Mowbray , Lord of Barnbougle and Dalmeny (later imprisoned for plotting against Bruce) * David, Lord of Brechin (later executed for plotting against Bruce) * David de Graham of Kincardine * Ingram de Umfraville (fought on the English side at Bannockburn) * John de Menteith , guardian of the earldom of Menteith (earlier betrayed William Wallace
William Wallace
to the English) * Alexander Fraser of Touchfraser and Cowie * Gilbert de la Hay , Constable of Scotland
(Bruce loyalist) * Robert Keith, Marischal of Scotland
(Bruce loyalist) * Henry St Clair
Henry St Clair
of Rosslyn * John de Graham, Lord of Dalkeith, Abercorn d. 1346) * Arthur Campbell (Bruce loyalist) * Thomas de Menzies (Bruce loyalist) * John de Inchmartin (became a supporter of Edward Balliol
Edward Balliol
after the Battle of Dupplin Moor , 1332; d. after 1334) * John Duraunt * Thomas de Morham


US Senate Resolution 155 of 10 November 1997 states that the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence , was signed on April 6, 1320 and the American Declaration of Independence was modeled on that inspirational document. However, although this influence is accepted by some historians , it is disputed by others. Even advocates of the link concede that it is speculative and not based on any verifiable sources.

In 2016 the Declaration of Arbroath
Declaration of Arbroath
was placed on UNESCO
's Memory of the World register .


* v * t * e

First War of Scottish Independence

* First Berwick * Dunbar * Lanark * Stirling Bridge * Falkirk * Roslin * Happrew * Stirling Castle * Methven * Dalrigh * Turnberry * Loch Ryan * Glen Trool * Loudoun Hill * Slioch * Inverurie * Buchan * Pass of Brander * Bannockburn * Moiry Pass * Connor * Kells * Skerries * Skaithmuir * Second Berwick * Faughart * Myton * Arbroath Declaration * The Great Raid of 1322 * Old Byland * Corbeil Treaty * Stanhope Park * Edinburgh-Northampton Treaty

* v * t * e

Second War of Scottish Independence

* Wester Kinghorn * Dupplin Moor * Annan * Dornock * Halidon Hill * Boroughmuir * Culblean * Neville\'s Cross * Nisbet Moor (1355) * Berwick

* Declaration of independence * Claim of Right 1989
Claim of Right 1989
* Barons\' Letter of 1301 , refutation of Papal claim to Scottish suzerainty by English barons


* ^ Scott 1999 , p. 196. * ^ A B C Barrow 1984 . * ^ A B Lynch 1992 . * ^ McLean 2005 , p. 247. * ^ Mark Bevir, ed. (2010). Encyclopedia of Political Theory. SAGE Publications. p. 921. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link ) * ^ Kellas 1998 , p. 35. * ^ Fugelso, Karl (2007). Memory and medievalism. D.S. Brewer. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-84384-115-9 . * ^ McCracken-Flesher, Caroline (2006). Culture, nation, and the new Scottish parliament. Bucknell University Press. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-8387-5547-1 . * ^ Robert Allan Houston; William Knox; National Museums of Scotland
(2001). The new Penguin history of Scotland: from the earliest times to the present day. Allen Lane. * ^ "The seals on the Declaration of Arbroath". National Archives of Scotland. Retrieved 2 September 2011. * ^ Scott 1999 , p. 197. * ^ Scott 1999 , p. 225. * ^ National Archives of Scotland
website feature * ^ " Declaration of Arbroath
Declaration of Arbroath
- Seals". National Archives of Scotland
. * ^ "Congressional Record Senate Articles". www.congress.gov. Retrieved 2016-01-15. * ^ Neville, Cynthia (April 2005). "'For Freedom Alone': Review". The Scottish Historical Review. 84. * ^ Cowan, Edward J. (2014). For Freedom Alone. Birlinn General. ISBN 978-1-78027-256-6 . * ^ " Declaration of Arbroath
Declaration of Arbroath
awarded Unesco status". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 5 July 2016.


* Barrow, G. W. S. (1984). Robert the Bruce and the Scottish Identity. Saltire Society. ISBN 978-0-85411-027-8 . * Kellas, James G. (1998). The politics of nationalism and ethnicity. Palgrave. ISBN 978-0-312-21553-8 . * Lynch, Michael (1992). Scotland: A New History. Pimlico. ISBN 978-0-7126-9893-1 . * McLean, Iain (2005). State of the Union: Unionism and the Alternatives in the United Kingdom Since 1707. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-925820-8 . * Scott, Ronald McNair (1999). Robert the Bruce: King of Scots. Canongate Books. ISBN 978-0-86241-616-4 .