By Alasdair Ross
Northern Scotland, Vol.20 (2000) and Vol.21 (2001)
Introduction: When Edward Balliol died without direct heirs in 1364, the dynastic rivalry between the Bruce and Balliol families that existed since 1290 came to an end. Although the Balliol family eventually list the right to be recognised as ‘kings of Scots’, this does not mean that contemporaries, like the Strathbogie earls of Atholl, should not have supported them. Indeed, it is occasionally very difficult to decide exactly how people felt about this dynastic conflict in Scotland, mainly because the reign of Robert Bruce (1306-29) was accompanied by a massive propaganda campaign aimed at justifying his seizure of the throne. The effectiveness of this material is still evident after almost seven hundred years. Also, until recently, historiography has largely presented the wars of independence from a monarchocentric perspective and this type of approach can led to categorisations regarding nationalism and loyalty. For example, the popular and powerful image of ‘good king Robert’ means, rightly or wrongly, that anyone who actively opposed the Bruce dynasty, like Earl David III de Strathbogie, must have been ‘treacherous’.