Bruce, David 1324-1371, David II, king of Scotland, the only son of Robert the Bruce, by his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh, born at Dunfermline on 5 March 1324, amidst the rejoicing natural to the long-wished-for birth of a male heir, came too late to receive his mother's or his father's care, and disappointed the expectations of the nation. Elizabeth died in November 1327, having borne a second son, John, who died in infancy. One of the last acts of his father was the treaty of Northampton in 1328 with Edward III, by which it was agreed that a marriage should as soon as possible be celebrated between the infant David and Joanna, the sister of the king of England, a child scarcely older than himself. Her dowry was to be 2,000l. a year from lands in Scotland, and she was to be delivered to the King of Scots or his commissioners at Berwick on 15 Jan. 1328. The marriage was solemnised on 12 July of that year in presence of the Earl of Moray and Sir James Douglas, as Bruce himself was too ill to attend. Within less than a year he died, on 9 June 1329, and David peacefully succeeded to his father's throne. His coronation was delayed till 24 Nov. 1331, when he was crowned, and first of the Scottish kings annointed by the bishop of St. Andrews, in accordance with the provisions of a bull Bruce had procured from Pope John XXII, too late for his own use (13 June 1329). According to the customs of chivalry he was knighted by Randolph, the regent, and then knighted the regent's son, the Earl of Angus, and others. Details of his marriage and coronation preserved in the Exchequer records show that no expense was spared to give the ceremonies the importance desirable at the commencement of a new race of independent kings. His reign nearly coincides with that of Edward III, who succeeded to the English throne two years before, and outlived David by seven years. The personal character of the two sovereigns reversed that of their fathers. David was a weak successor of the Bruce; Edward inherited the martial and administrative talents of his grandfather, instead of the feeble nature of Edward II.
     The life of David naturally divides itself into five parts of unequal length, and as to two of which our information is very limited:— I. From his coronation in 1331 to the victory of Edward Baliol at Halidon Hill in 1333.
     II. His residence in France from 1334 to his return to Scotland in 1341.
     III. His personal reign in Scotland from 1341 to his capture at Neville's Cross in 1346.
     IV. His captivity in England from 1346 till his release by the treaty of Berwick in 1357.
     V. The second period of his personal reign from 1357 to his death in 1371.
     After the death of Robert the Bruce, Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray, governed the kingdom with vigour for three years; but his death, not free from suspicion of poison, in July 1332, exposed Scotland to the peril of a disputed regency. The estates met at Perth, and after long discussion chose, on 2 Aug., Donald, earl of Mar, the nephew of Bruce.
     The choice was unfortunate, and there is reason to suppose the prudence of Bruce had foreseen the incapacity of Mar when he preferred Douglas in the succession to the regency, which the youth of David made inevitably long. But Douglas had by this time fallen in the Moorish war in Spain. Encouraged by the divisions amongst the Scottish nobles, and secretly aided by Edward III, Edward the son of John Baliol, with many barons who had lost their Scotch estates by espousing the English side, made a descent on the coast of Fife. The non-fulfilment of one of the conditions of the treaty of Northampton, by which these estates were to be restored, gave a pretext for renewing the war. News of Baliol's landing at Kinghorn was brought to the parliament at Perth the day of the regent's election, and Baliol, losing no time, met the regent and barons at the Muir of Dupplin, near Perth, on 11 Aug., nine days after he landed. Though greatly superior in numbers, the regent was totally routed. He himself, along with Thomas, earl of Moray, the son of Randolph, the earl of Monteith, and many other nobles, were slain. In September Baliol was crowned at Scone. His captive, the Earl of Fife, placed the crown on his head; but he had not yet conquered the country. Perth was almost immediately retaken by David's adherents, and Baliol was defeated at Annan in Dumfries by John Randolph, now Earl of Moray, and forced to leave Scotland. In 1333 Edward III came with a great force to assist Baliol, and routed at Halidon Hill, on 20 July, the Scotch army led by Archibald Douglas, lord of Galloway, who succeeded to the regency after the death of Mar. Berwick capitulated, and Edward became master of Scotland south of the Forth. On 10 Feb. 1334 Baliol, at an assembly held at Edinburgh, surrendered Berwick absolutely to the English king, and, as security for an annual payment of 2,000l., promised to put into his hands all the castles of south-eastern Scotland—Jedburgh, Selkirk, Peebles, Dumfries, Haddington, Edinburgh, and Linlithgow. Edward, like his grandfather, made a new ordinance for the Scottish government, but his officers never obtained complete possession of their posts. Meantime David and the queen had taken refuge at Dumbarton, one of the fortresses which held out under its brave governor Malcolm Fleming; but, Scotland being deemed an unsafe residence, he took advantage of a ship which Philip VI, the French king, sent for him, and along with Joanna and his sisters landed at Boulogne on 14 May 1334.
     The royal exiles were splendidly received at Paris. Château Gaillard, the castle built by Ceur de Lion on the Seine close to the town of Andelys, was assigned for their residence, where they were maintained by Philip, though Froissart's statement that little came from Scotland to support them is disproved by the exchequer records, which show that besides provisions 4,333l. 18s. 7d. was remitted between May 1334 and January 1340.
     The course of events in Scotland during the next seven years is outside the life of David. A new race of patriotic leaders—Murray of Bothwell, Robert the Steward, Douglas the Knight of Liddesdale—worthily sustained the fame of Robert Bruce, Douglas, and Randolph. At first they carried on the war with varying success, but ultimately they freed the country and retook all the castles. The greater attraction of a French campaign prevented Edward from ever using his whole strength against the northern kingdom. Not much is known of David's residence in France. He was of an age too young to take an active part in affairs, but not too young to learn the lessons of the extravagant and vain though splendid pomp of chivalry which distinguished the court of Philip VI. One characteristic scene at which he was present is described by Froissart—the meeting of the armies of the French and English kings about the end of October 1339. Three years previously a fleet, fitted out by David Bruce with the aid of the French king, made a diversion in favour of the Scotch, plundered the Channel islands, and seized many ships near the Isle of Wight. Edward retaliated by claiming the crown of France in October 1337, and, after two years of preparation, in September 1339 he crossed the Flemish border. At Vironfosse the two hosts came face to face. The English under Edward were arrayed in three divisions, in all about 44,000. The French had the same number of divisions, but in each 15,000 men-at-arms and 20,000 foot. Though Edward was supported by the nobles of Germany, Brabant, and Flanders, besides his English vassals, Philip surpassed him in the rank as well as numbers of his followers; for besides the full array of France, dukes, earls, and viscounts, too long a list for even Froissart to rehearse, he was supported by three kings—John of Bohemia, the king of Navarre, and David king of Scotland. It was a great beauty to behold the banners and standards waving in the wynde, and horses barded, and knightes and squyres richly armed. But no blood was shed in this first act of the war of a hundred years, which was to make the French and English, as it appeared, eternal enemies, and the French and Scots perpetual allies. Philip's counsellors were divided, but the view prevailed that it was better to allow the English king to waste his means in the maintenance of so great an army in a foreign country. The advice of Robert of Sicily, derived from astrology, that the French would be beaten in any engagement if Edward was present, also operated on the superstitious monarch. A feint of an attack caused by the starting of a hare between the camps, which led the Earl of Haynault to make fourteen knights, called in ridicule the Knights of the Hare, was an incident whose memory was perpetuated by those who thought it cowardly on the part of Philip with superior forces to decline battle on his own soil. The recollection of this scene and the victories of Crecy and Poictiers were inducements to David in later years to cast in his lot with the English king instead of with his national and natural allies.
     In 1341 the brilliant successes in Scotland of Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell, Robert the Steward of Scotland, and Sir William Douglas the Knight of Liddesdale, who in the preceding year had recovered one by one the castles north of and including Edinburgh, made it safe for David to return, and on 4 May he landed with his wife at Inverbervie near Montrose. Charters were issued under his name and seal at a council held at Aberdeen in February 1342, and though only thirteen, he assumed the personal government, which he retained until his capture at Neville's Cross in 1346. During the first two years after his return David was much at Aberdeen and Kildrummy, where his aunt, sister of Robert Bruce, who had married successively Gratney, earl of Mar, Sir Christopher Seton, and Sir Andrew Murray, lived. In the course of 1342 he passed through Fife, attending the justice-eyres at Cupar and Edinburgh, to the Marches, and joined the Earl of Moray in a descent on the English border, during which Penrith was burnt, but nothing of consequence was accomplished. On his return north he visited Haddington, Ayr, and Kilwinning, Kirkintilloch, Inverkeithing, and Scone, and stopped at Banff before his return to Kildrummy in August. It was important that he should show himself in different parts of the kingdom. Hawking and hunting and the jousts or tournaments, the favourite amusements of the age, were fully shared in by the young king, but he did not prove himself an adept in the art of war, for which these were the appropriate training.
     Two deaths, for one of which he was indirectly, and for the other directly, responsible, showed that he could not attract to his throne, as his father had done, the leading men of the country.
     Sir James Ramsay of Dalwolsie, having taken the castle of Roxburgh, was imprudently rewarded by the gift of the sheriffdom of Teviotdale, then held by Douglas the Knight of Liddesdale, and Douglas having treacherously got Ramsay into his power starved him to death in the castle of the Hermitage. The other victim was William Bullock, an ecclesiastic who had distinguished himself in the service of Baliol, but changing sides received the office of chamberlain from David. Suspected of treason he was by the king's order sent prisoner to the castle of Lochindorb in Moray, where he also was starved to death. Other acts of lawlessness, as the rape of a lady of the Seton family by Alan of Seton, the execution without trial of an impostor calling himself Alexander Bruce, the son of Edward Bruce, and the state of the ordinary royal revenue, which fell from 3,774l. in 1331 to 1,198l. in 1342, and had to be increased by special parliamentary grants distributed with too lavish a hand, were signs of his incapacity as an administrator. ‘Tristia felicibus succedunt’ is the brief comment of Fordun. The restoration of the king had not benefited the kingdom. A murrain which specially attacked the fowls, a forerunner of the black death, added to the general distress and feeling of impending calamity. A truce with England, which followed one between Edward and Philip of France in 1343, saved Scotland for a short time from war, but the treasonable correspondence of the Knight of Liddesdale with the English king was a bad omen for its continuance. It was terminated early in 1346, when Philip, his own truce having closed, exhorted David to invade England. Seizing the opportunity of Edward's absence at Calais, David mustered his forces at Perth, where the defection of the Earl of Ross, who slew Ronald of the Isles at the monastery of Elcho, showed how little he was able to command his vassals. Advancing to the borders, he took the castle of Liddel, put to death Selby, its governor, and, in spite of the counsels of the Knight of Liddesdale not to proceed further with a force consisting of only 2,000 men-at-arms and some 13,000 light-armed troops, crossed the Tyne above Newcastle, and ravaged the bishopric of Durham. He was met near that town on 17 Oct. at Neville's Cross by the Archbishop of York and the northern barons, and totally routed. David himself was taken prisoner by a squire, John Copland, after a brave resistance, in which it is recorded he struck out two of his captor's teeth. The earls of Fife, Menteith, and Wigtown, the Knight of Liddesdale, and many barons shared his fate. The earls of Moray and Strathearn, the chancellor, chamberlain, and marshal of Scotland were slain; the Earl of March and Robert the Steward alone of the principal nobles effected their escape. So great was the disaster, that ‘the time of the battle of Durham’ is used in the accounts and chronicles as a point of time.
David, with the other captives, was led in triumph through the streets of London to the Tower, placed on a tall black charger to make him conspicuous, as John of France was after Poictiers on a white charger. The next eleven years of his life were spent in England, chiefly in or near London, and at Odiham in Hampshire, varied with visits to the border or to Scotland. He was forced to bear his own charges, but the rigour of his imprisonment was soon relaxed in the hope that he would negotiate his ransom and even ally himself to England. Of David's captivity the records are almost as scanty as of his exile in France. In 1347, after taking Calais, Edward concluded a truce with France, which continued by various prorogations till 1 April 1354. Scotland was to be admitted to the truce, and in the next year the negotiations for David's ransom commenced. In October Joanna joined her husband in England. It was, however, Edward's policy to have two strings to his bow, and Baliol, whom he addressed as ‘our dear cousin Edward,’ while his brother-in-law was only styled Lord David de Bruce, remained nominal ruler of Scotland. In spite of his protest in March 1357 a treaty was concluded with the Scots commissioners for the ransom of David, and he was permitted on 4 Sept. to return to Scotland to procure the sanction of the estates. Secret compacts were entered into in 1352 between Edward, David, and Lord Douglas, and between Edward and the Knight of Liddesdale. The terms of the former were purposely obscure, but indicate that in the event of David failing to persuade the estates to make peace, he engaged to act on his own account so that ‘the work might be accomplished in another way.’ The English commissioners were empowered to allow him to remain at Newcastle or Berwick, or even to set him at large if it would ‘promote the business.’ Knyghton, the English chronicler, reports that David had consented to acknowledge Edward as his feudal superior. There was no ambiguity in the agreement with the Knight of Liddesdale, who entered into a close alliance as a condition of his own release. In 1353 David had returned to England, having failed to obtain the consent of the Scotch estates to Edward's conditions, and at Newcastle conferences were renewed between the commissioners of the two countries, which resulted in a treaty on 13 July 1354, by which the ransom was fixed at 90,000 merks, payable in nine yearly instalments. Twenty hostages of noble birth were to be given for the fulfilment of the treaty, and the king himself, the nobles and bishops, as well as the principal towns, were to undertake personal obligations for its payment.
In 1355 the French king, alarmed at the project of a nine years' truce between England and Scotland, sent Eugène de Garancières with men and money to revive the war, and several border engagements followed; but early in 1356 Edward took Berwick, and obtained an absolute renunciation of the Scotch crown and kingdom from his puppet, Edward Baliol, on 21 Jan. Though he devastated the Lothians in the raid which received the name of the Burnt Candlemas, and issued a proclamation with regard to the government of Scotland, he failed to reduce even the southern district to subjection. In the north Robert the Steward maintained an independent power as regent, even during the period of the nominal reign of Baliol. At last the tedious negotiations for David's release drew near their close. At a parliament at Perth on 17 Jan. 1356-7 commissioners were appointed, and having settled the preliminaries at Berwick in August, a parliament at Edinburgh on 26 Sept. agreed to Edward's terms. The ransom was raised to 100,000 merks in ten instalments, for which the nobles, clergy, and burghs bound themselves, and commissioners from the three estates concluded the treaty at Berwick on 3 Oct. 1357.
The condition as to hostages was also made more severe. Three great lords were to be added to the twenty youths of noble birth formerly stipulated for. The truce between the two countries was to continue until the ransom was paid. It was ratified by the king and commissioners on 5 and 6 Oct., and again on 6 Nov. by a parliament at Scone, where David was present. On 25 Dec. Queen Joanna, along with the Bishop of St. Andrews and the Earl of March, received a safe-conduct to England, from which the queen never returned, dying near London on 14 Aug. 1362. David himself almost every year revisited England during the remainder of his reign, and his personal sympathies were so thoroughly English, that it required all the strength of the estates, and the desire of Edward for the stipulated ransom, to prevent a surrender of his own kingdom more ignominious than that of Baliol. Though his personal reign lasted for fourteen years after his return, it was entirely destitute of important events. Great difficulty was felt in raising from so poor a country the enormous ransom. It was not found enough that the whole wool of the kingdom should be granted at a low price to the king that he might resell it at a profit, and other severe taxes were imposed on the commons. The clergy had to contribute, and with some difficulty the pope was induced to allow a tenth of the ecclesiastical revenues for three years, on condition that they were thereafter to be exempted. But not all these resources together sufficed to meet the debt which the creditor was determined to exact to the uttermost, and from time to time David, like a needy debtor, made terms for the postponement of payment. There were negotiations for this purpose in 1363-5 and 1369, when an obligation was undertaken to pay off the balance due at the rate of 4,000 merks annually, under a large additional penalty in case of failure. Edward and David had latterly devised several schemes for the extinction of the debt by another process than payment. This was the transfer at David's death of the Scottish crown to an English prince. At the parliament of Scone in 1363, David ventured to propose openly that it should recognise Lionel, duke of Clarence, Edward's second son, as his heir. An indignant refusal was accompanied with a renewed declaration of the settlement of the succession on Robert the Steward by Robert the Bruce. Throughout this part of David's reign the barons of Scotland were animated by the same spirit as that which the English had shown at Runnymede. Hatred of foreign aggression, and the weakness of the king, who was willing to yield to it, enabled them to use the opportunity to obtain guarantees for the law and constitution which, though not in precisely the same form, had a similar intention and a similar, though less complete, result to Magna Charta. Such was the real meaning of the origin of those permanent committees of parliament for judicial business called the lords auditors, and for legislation called the lords of the articles, which first appear in 1367; the provision for the more regular administration of justice and coinage of money; the revocation of the grants of the royal revenues; the rule laid down that no attention was to be paid to the king's mandates contrary to the statutes and the common law. Foiled in their attempt to divert the order of succession, Edward and David had resort to secret intrigue. David, in November 1363, went to London and undertook a personal obligation to Edward to settle the kingdom of Scotland upon him and his issue male, failing issue male of his own body. On this condition the whole of the ransom still unpaid was released. Nominal provisions were made in the event of an English heir succeeding to the Scottish throne for the preservation of the independence of Scotland similar to those of Edward I. This agreement was carefully concealed from the Scottish people, and the public negotiations for the payment of the ransom were still continued. It was in this year, and before he went to England, that David married his second wife, Margaret, widow of Sir John Logie. It is usually said that this was an unequal marriage, into which passion rather than reason led the king; but Margaret is described by Fordun as a lady of noble birth, and she was honourably received at the court of Edward. She was a daughter of Drummond, one of the lesser barons. No such rigid bar then restricted the marriage of the royal race as in later times. A sister of David, Matilda, daughter of Robert, had married a simple esquire. Still, it was a match which could bring no political strength to David, and alienated many of the Scottish nobility. A revolt of some of these was one of its consequences. David succeeded in quelling it, and threw the Steward and his three sons into prison at the instance of Margaret Logie, to whom and her relations he made large grants of land and money. Her influence did not last long, and after her divorce in 1369 by the Scottish bishops, the exact ground of which has not been discovered, the Stewards were released. She was succeeded in the king's favour by Agnes of Dunbar. The year after this divorce, on 22 Feb. 1370, David died in Edinburgh Castle childless, and was succeeded by Robert the Steward. David was only in his forty-seventh year, but he had reigned forty-one years, reckoning from his accession.
Fordun and Wyntoun, the writers nearest the time of David, who did not know the extent of his treason to Scotland, treat his character more favourably than modern historians. They commend his administration of justice, his bravery, even his resolute assertion of the royal authority. Wyntoun, in a curious passage which evidently relates an authentic anecdote, tells how on his return to Scotland, when he was going to his privy council,
     The folk, as they were wont to do,
     Pressyt rycht rudly in thare to,
     Bot he rycht suddenly gan arrace
     Out of a macer's hand a mace,
     And said rudly how do we now?
     Stand still, or the proudest of you
     Sall on his hevyd have smyte this mace.
     This apparently trivial incident gives occasion to a general reflection by the historian, expressing his view of David:
     Radure in prynce is a gud thyng,
     For but radure all governyng
     Sall all tyme bot despiysed be.
     In the same passage he mentions that David only brought with him from England a single page, not what we should expect if he then had the idea of bringing Scotland under English influence. Both Wyntoun and Fordun, who, it must be remembered, were Scottish churchmen (the English ‘Chronicles of Lanercost,’ whose monastery he plundered, take a very different view of David), incline to the side of the king as against the nobles, whose oppression he is represented as putting down. Later writers, on the other hand, note his undoubted weakness, his love of pleasure, his passion for an English mistress¾Katherine Mortimer, who died during the life of Joanna, and was buried with pomp at Newbattle¾his impolitic marriage with Margaret Logie, his extravagance, his jealousy, and ill-treatment of Robert the Steward, above all his sacrifice of the independence his father had established. These inconsistent views, both of which have some foundation in fact, point to a character itself inconsistent, passionate, and headstrong, capable at times of showing strength, at bottom weak, liable to be led by various influences, in the end yielding to the persistent policy and will of the English king.

     Wyntoun, Fordun, and the Liber Plyscardensis are the Scotch original authorities, but Knighton and Froissart supply several details.
     The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, vols. i. and ii., and W. Burnett's learned prefaces are specially valuable for the life of David.

Contributor: Æ. M. [Aeneas James George Mackay]

Published:     1886