The Declaration of Arbroath was sent to the Pope in 1320, six years after the battle of Bannockburn. King Edward II had refused to make peace with Scotland and the Pope had not recognised Robert the Bruce as King of Scotland.
It is thought eight Scottish earls and 38 barons sealed the Declaration - the sole survivor of three letters written from Scotland to the Pope at the time - urging the Pope to recognise Robert the Bruce as King of Scotland. Due to its fragile state, the Declaration is on display in a purpose-built hermetically sealed display case to protect it for future generations.
In 1328 the Bruce was an old man and he was slowly dying. He had been at war with England for more than twenty years. The Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton would finally seal the peace.
Edward II had refused to give up his claim to overlordship of Scotland but he was no longer in control. The English king had been deposed by his wife Isabella of France and her lover, Roger Mortimer.
Bruce saw his chance and sent James Douglas to attack the north of England. The English feared that the Scots would take Northumbria and sought terms.
The terms of the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton were agreed. The English finally recognised King Robert I as King of Scots and acknowledged the independence of Scotland. Edward II’s daughter Joan of the Tower would marry the Bruce’s son, David.
In July 1328, the six-year-old Joan was married to the four-year-old David II. Less than a year later, Robert the Bruce died. Peace and freedom had been hard fought for - and would be short lived.
Two letters that are thought to have passed through the hands of Scottish national hero William Wallace will go on display this August at the Scottish Parliament as part of its annual Festival of Politics. These are the only two surviving documents that are directly connected to Wallace and neither of them is actually owned by Scotland, so to see them both together in the motherland is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
One letter, known as the Safe Conduct or the Wallace Letter, was written on November 7th, 1300 by King Philip IV of France to his representatives in Rome. Wallace had left Scotland for France in the fall of 1298 after his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk and his resignation as Guardian of Scotland in favour of Robert the Bruce. Written in Latin, the letter commands that the King’s ambassadors ask Pope Boniface VIII to agree to Wallace’s requests.
The other letter is known as the Lubeck Letter
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