Who is this King of Glory? Robert I of Scotland (1306-29), Holy Week and the consecration of St Andrews Cathedral

Who is this King of Glory? Robert I of Scotland (1306-29), Holy Week and the consecration of St Andrews Cathedral

By Michael Penman

Medieval and Early Modern Representations of Authority in Scotland and the British Isles, edited by K. Buchanan, L. Dean, and M. Penman (London: Routledge, 2016)

St Andrews Cathedral

Introduction: As an aspiring monarch Robert Bruce had the best of teachers – King Edward I of England (r. 1272–1307). According to Sir Thomas Gray, the Northumbrian knight and chronicler whose father fought in the Anglo-Scottish wars from 1296, Robert served in his youth as a ‘bachelor’ in Edward I’s household.

If so, this may have brought the young Bruce into direct contact c.1286–96 with Edward’s masterful deployment of ceremony, institutional space, image, text and liturgy to proclaim his political authority and the sacrality of his dynasty.

As such, Robert could have been a witness to such weighty rituals as: Edward I’s Round-Table tournament and knighting of household supporters at Winchester in September 1285 and April 1290; the English royal household’s dedication of Henry III’s completed brass tomb at Westminster Abbey in 1290, a year which also saw Edward’s poignant mourning of his queen, Eleanor, through a unique programme of processional crosses and two effigial monuments; John Balliol’s inauguration as vassal king of Scots at Scone Abbey on St Andrews day 1292, in a carefully controlled ceremony overseen by English officials; and the English king’s triumphal tour of eastern Scotland’s significant castles, churches and burghs in spring-summer 1296 after King John had been ritually stripped of his office near Arbroath Abbey about 7 July, the Translation feast of St Thomas Becket (to whom Arbroath was dedicated and to whose chief English shrine at Canterbury Edward would gift confiscated Scottish royal muniments).

Click here to read this chapter from the University of Stirling

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