A copy of an unknown and very rare Robert the Bruce letter from the build-up to the Battle of Bannockburn, was recently discovered by chance at the British Library.
Dauvit Broun, Professor of History at Glasgow University spoke about his remarkable discovery at this year’s History Fair.
He was visiting the British Library to examine a manuscript written in the late 15th Century by the monks of Kirkstall Abbey in Yorkshire. This contains copies of much older letters, the originals of which no longer survive. Professor Broun was looking through copies of the correspondence of Edward III of England when he realized that one of them, previously thought to be a letter of Robert II of Scotland to Edward III, was actually a 1310 letter from Robert the Bruce to Edward II.
Prof Broun, said: “The letter reveals a couple of things. Firstly, Bruce’s tone is extremely conciliatory. He seems to be offering to do anything possible to establish peace. However, he is nonetheless plainly addressing Edward as one king to another.
“There is no doubt that the bottom line here is that Edward should recognise Robert as king of the Scots, and the Scots as separate from the English.”
He added: “The writing of this letter should be seen as a bold move by Bruce who had perhaps recognised that the tables were turning and he could stand his ground in the face of an advancing English army and open negotiations with the king.”
The new letter has presented historians with fresh information about a pivotal time in the wars of Scottish independence. Translated from its original Latin, it states: “To the most serene prince the lord Edward by God’s grace illustrious king of England, (from) Robert by the same grace king of Scots.”
It adds: “Our humbleness has led us, now and at other times, to beseech your highness more devoutly so that, having God and public decency in sight, you would take pains to cease from our persecution and the disturbance of the people of our kingdom in order that devastation and the spilling of a neighbour’s blood may henceforth stop.”
Read more and view a short video on the BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-22734279