Robert The Bruce and That Spider

Robert the Bruce

Possibly one of the Most Famous Sons from Scotland who amongst all the stories written about him the Spider tops them allRobert Bruce was descended from a Norman knight Robert de Bruce who came to England with William the Conqueror. His grandfather had been one of the 13 claimants to the Scottish throne in 1291 during the reign of the English king Edward I. Edward had chosen John de Balliol an English baron declaring him rightful king of Scotland in 1292. Later Balliol refused to acknowledge the superiority of the English and in 1296 was defeated by Edward at Dunbar. Edward then took over Scotland receiving the oath of fealty from over 2000 Scots. At the same time a nationalistic movement demanding freedom from England slowly began gaining strength among the Scots. Leaders such as William Wallace fought the English but were defeated and executedAfter Wallace’s death Robert Bruce revived his grandfather’s claim to the throne and declared himself king of Scotland in 1306. Edward I sent a large army north defeated Bruce at the Battle of Methven and forced him to become an outlaw. But Bruce did not give up and came out of hiding a year later to win an important victory against the English. Clans from all over Scotland now came to his aid and Bruce’s growing army fought bravely and successfully against the English. Meanwhile Edward I died to be succeeded by his son Edward II. The new king was no match for Robert Bruce – in 1314 at the Battle of Bannockburn Bruce’s army of 5000 defeated Edward II’s much larger army of 20000 driving the English finally and firmly out of ScotlandA small cave formed in a red sandstone of a cliff on the Cove Estate in Kirkpatrick Flemming is said to be the place where Robert the Bruce went into hiding on 1306Robert Bruce crowned king of Scotland made an outlaw in his own country by Edward I king of England. Edward I had defeated Robert and  hunted him forcing him at last to leave the lochs and craggy mountains of his native land. He had left behind his queen in Kildrummie his only remaining castle in charge of his brave and valiant younger brother Nigel. But alas Kildrummie had been taken by the English his brother executed and his queen held prisonerRobert was close to despair: was the freedom of Scotland worth the great price that he was paying? Was it worth the lives of all those slain in battle worth the misery of their wives and orphaned children? And what of all the men that he himself had killed one at least not in the heat of battle but in cold blood?Maybe Robert thought he should give up his fight for freedom and go instead to the Holy Land there to fight by the side of the brave knights against the enemies of Christendom. Perhaps that would make up for the killing and the deaths that his ambitions and dreams had brought about. Yet how could he abandon Scotland while there was still a hope a chance however slender of success?When the fire had died down Robert lay still and silent on his straw bed oblivious of the cold and discomfort of his surroundings troubled and disturbed by his thoughts. Suddenly his eye was caught by a spider – the creature was hanging by a long silvery thread from one of the wooden beams above his head and trying to swing itself to another beam. The spider tried again and again failing every time. Six times counted Robert the spider tried and failed. ‘Six times’ thought Robert to himself ‘have I fought against the English and failed.’

Bruces Cave
Robert The Bruces Cave

Robert looked at the spider more intently. ‘Now if this spider fails again on the seventh attempt I too shall give up the fight for Scotland. But if it succeeds I shall try again.’ The spider as though aware of Robert’s thought swung itself again with all its tiny strength – and finally on the seventh attempt it succeeded. It swung on to the beam it had been trying to reach and fastened its thread thus stretching the first line of the web it was trying to weave. Robert Bruce smiled and sat up. He threw off his despair and grief and determined to set out for Scotland again and continue his fight against the English. He fought against the English for the next eight years defeating them and finally driving them out of Scotland in 1314 at the Battle of BannockburnSo the Next time you see a Spider just remember that something so small once changed the course of History."