By Michael Penman
Scottish Kingship 1306-1542: Essays in Honour of Norman Macdougall, edited by Michael Brown and Roland Tanner (Edinburgh: John Donald, 2008)
Introduction: The year 1318 was dramatically representative of the fortunes of the kingship of Robert Bruce. It was also typical of his flint-edged and adaptable response to such fates and makes it plain that Robert’s strongest model for his own style of rule and the recasting of the office of King of Scots was surely that of his early antagonist, the formidable Edward I of England.
The opening weeks of the twelfth year of Robert’s rule found that monarch and his closest followers still recuperating from the grave physical toll of their fruitless campaign in southern Ireland in January to May 1317, a third season waged in support of Edward Bruce’s wars to expand his kingship. The Scots king and his adult brother and heir presumptive, together with the future Guardian of the Bruce realm, Thomas Randolph earl of Moray, had all nearly perished of hunger and ambush in the boggy and political mire of County Limerick. Returning to Scotland, Robert was content to accept truces on two fronts for much of the next twelve months: he even sent envoys to talk with the Archbishop of York about a ‘final peace’.