Projecting dynastic majesty: State ceremony in the reign of Robert the Bruce

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Abstract

Following the murder of his rival John Comyn on 10 February at Greyfriars in Dumfries, and the crisis this act incited, Robert the Bruce’s inaugural ceremony took place at Scone in late March 1306. Much about this ceremony is speculative; however, subsequent retrospective legitimisation of the Bruce claims to the royal succession would suggest that all possible means by which Robert’s inauguration could emulate his Canmore predecessors and outline his right to rule on a level playing field with his contemporaries were amplified, particularly where they served the common purpose of legitimising Robert’s highly questioned hold on power. Fourteenth-century Scottish history is inextricably entwined in the Wars of Independence, civil strife and an accelerated struggle for autonomous rule and independence. The historiography of this period is unsurprisingly heavily dominated by such themes and, while this has been offset by works exploring subjects such as the tomb of Bruce and the piety of the Bruce dynasty, the ceremonial history of this era remains firmly in the shadows. This paper will address three key ceremonies through which a king would, traditionally, make powerful statements of royal authority: the inauguration or coronation of Bruce; the marriage of his infant son to the English princess Joan of the Tower in 1328, and his extravagant funeral ceremony in 1329. By focusing thus this paper hopes to shed new light on the ‘dark and drublie days’ of fourteenth-century Scotland and reveal that glory, dynastic majesty and pleasure were as central to the Scottish monarchy in this era as war and political turbulence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-60
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Review of Scottish Studies
Volume40
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

Keywords

  • Robert Bruce
  • Scotland
  • Medieval
  • Fourteenth century
  • Ceremony
  • Inauguration
  • Funeral

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