Peter Jones (Perspective, 1 July) makes the argument that Robert Bruce was “much more interested in advancing his family’s status and wealth than he was in the national interest”, and in that respect “he wasn’t all that different from modern politicians”.
The generalisation about modern politicians is crass, but leave that aside.
One might as well say that Elizabeth I of England was a devious opportunist, Churchill a lucky drunk, and Wellington was just doing what he was paid for.
While each statement may hold some truth, they hardly get to the heart of the matter. Bruce’s motivation is likely to be found in the fact that he considered, with some justification, that he was the rightful king.
That’s rather different from merely advancing family interests.
If family interests in some material sense had been key, Bruce might have chosen a path that didn’t involve the immense risk of rebellion against a brutal occupation, which he knew would cause King Edward to strip his family of the substantial lands they held in both Scotland and England, and which left all his four brothers dead, three of them publicly tortured to death.
No one claims Bruce was a saint. He was most certainly a murderer.
But he was also a leader of genius who inspired people to follow him despite the immense odds and the terrible penalties they faced.
Without Bruce it’s likely there would have been no Scotland today in any sense we would recognise.
Any Scot, whether for Yes or No and even Peter Jones, must surely think he and his most famous victory are worth celebrating for that.
Peter Jones’ article on Robert the Bruce was interesting. On reading about the period it always strikes me that people like William Wallace, Andrew Murray and others, were patriots, and that Bruce was more concerned about the interests of the Bruce clan.
Bo’ness, West Lothian