Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Declaration of Arbroath 6 April 1320

It is almost 700 years since the Declaration of Arbroath was created. This event is celebrated every year in North America by the Scots Diaspora as a day to honour their Scottish heritage. April 6 has officially been deemed 'Tartan Day' in both Canada and the U.S. 

As for the original declaration, it was entered into parliament on the 6 April 1320 and recorded as: 

1320, 6 April, ‘Arbroath’
Record of Assembly
6 April 1320
Letters: ‘The Declaration of Arbroath’; letter of the barons of Scotland to Pope John XXII

To the most holy father in Christ and lord, the lord John [XXII], by divine providence supreme pontiff of the holy Roman and universal church, his humble and devout sons Duncan, earl of Fife, Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray, lord of Man and of Annandale, Patrick Dunbar, earl of March, Malise, earl of Strathearn, Malcolm, earl of Lennox, William, earl of Ross, Magnus, earl of Caithness and Orkney, and William, earl of Sutherland; Walter, the steward of Scotland, William Soules, butler of Scotland, James, lord of Douglas, Roger Mowbray, David, lord of Brechin, David Graham, Ingram Umfraville, John Menteith, guardian of the earldom of Menteith, Alexander Fraser, Gilbert Hay, constable of Scotland, Robert Keith, marischal of Scotland, Henry Sinclair, John Graham, David Lindsay, William Oliphant, Patrick Graham, John Fenton, William Abernethy, David Wemyss, William Mushet, Fergus Ardrossan, Eustace Maxwell, William Ramsay, William Mowat, Alan Murray, Donald Campbell, John Cameron, Reginald Cheyne, Alexander Seton, Andrew Leslie, and Alexander Straiton, and the other barons and freeholders and the whole community of the realm of Scotland, send all manner of filial reverence, with devout kisses of his blessed feet.

Most holy father and lord, we know, and we gather from the deeds and books of the ancients, that among other distinguished nations our own nation, namely of Scots, has been marked by many distinctions. It journeyed from Greater Scythia by the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long span of time in Spain among the most savage peoples, but nowhere could it be subjugated by any people, however barbarous. From there it came, 1,200 years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea and, having first driven out the Britons and altogether destroyed the Picts, it acquired, with many victories and untold efforts, the places in the west† which it now holds, although often assailed by Norwegians, Danes and English. As the histories of old time bear witness, it has held them free of all servitude ever since. In their kingdom 113 kings of their own royal stock have reigned, the line unbroken by a single foreigner. Their high qualities and merits, if they were not otherwise manifest, shine out sufficiently from this: that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, our Lord Jesus Christ, after his passion and resurrection, called them, even though settled in the uttermost ends of the earth, almost the first to his most holy faith. Nor did he wish to confirm them in that faith by anyone but by the first apostle by calling (though second or third in rank), namely the most gentle Andrew, the blessed Peter’s brother, whom he wished to protect them as their patron for ever.

The most holy fathers your predecessors gave careful heed to these things and strengthened this same kingdom and people, as being the special charge of the blessed Peter’s brother by many favours and numerous privileges. Thus our people under their protection did heretofore live in freedom and peace until that mighty prince Edward, king of the English, father of the one who now lives,† when our kingdom had no head and our people harboured no malice or treachery and were then unused to wars or attacks, came in the guise of friend and ally to invade them as an enemy. His wrongs, killings, violence, pillage, arson, imprisonment of prelates, burning down of monasteries, despoiling and killing of religious, and yet other innumerable outrages which he inflicted on the said people,† sparing neither age nor sex, religion nor order, no one could fully describe or fully understand unless experience had taught him.

But from these countless evils we have been set free, by the help of him who though he afflicts yet heals and restores, by our most valiant prince, king and lord, the lord Robert, who, that his people and his heritage might be delivered out of the hands of enemies, bore cheerfully toil and fatigue, hunger and danger, like another Maccabeus or Joshua. Divine providence, the succession to his right according to our laws and customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent and assent of us all have made him our prince and king. We are bound to him for the maintaining of our freedom both by his right and his merits, as to him by whom salvation has been wrought unto our people, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand. Yet if he should give up what he has begun, seeking to make us or our kingdom subject to the king of England or to the English, we would strive at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own right and ours, and we would make some other man who was able to defend us our king; for, as long as a hundred of us remain alive, we will never on any conditions be subjected to the lordship of the English. For we fight not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, but for freedom alone, which no good man gives up except with his life.

Therefore it is, reverend father and lord, that we beseech your holiness with our most earnest prayers and suppliant hearts, that recalling with a sincere heart and pious mind that, since with him whose vicegerent on earth you are there is neither weighing nor distinction of Jew and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman, you will look with paternal eyes on the troubles and anxieties brought by the English upon us and upon the church of God; that you will deign to admonish and exhort the king of the English, who ought to be satisfied with what he has, since England used once to be enough for seven kings or more, to leave in peace us Scots, who live in this poor little Scotland, beyond which there is no dwelling-place at all, and who desire nothing but our own. We are willing to discharge fully to him (due regard having been paid to our standing) whatever will bring about peace for us. It truly concerns you to do this holy father, who sees the savagery of the heathen raging against the Christians, as the sins of Christians have indeed deserved, and the frontiers of Christians being pressed inward day by day; and you must see how much it will tarnish you Holiness’s memory if (God forbid it) the Church suffers eclipse or scandal in any branch of it during your time. Then rouse the Christian princes who for false reasons pretend that they cannot go to the help of the Holy Land because of wars they have with their neighbours. The truer reason that prevents them is that in warring on their smaller neighbours they anticipate a readier return and weaker resistance. But He from whom nothing is hidden well knows how cheerfully we and our lord the king would go there if the king of the English would leave us in peace. We profess and testify this to you as the vicar of Christ and to all Christendom.

But if your holiness, giving too much credence to the tales of the English, will not give sincere belief to all this, nor refrain from favouring them to our confusion, then the slaughter of bodies, the perdition of souls, and all the other misfortunes that will follow, inflicted by them on us and by us on them, will, we believe, be imputed by the Most High to you. Therefore we are and will be ready, and in these [letters] we are bound, to obey you as his vicar in all things as obedient sons; to Him as supreme king and judge we commit the maintenance of our cause, casting our cares upon Him and firmly trusting that He will inspire courage in us and bring our enemies to nothing. May the Most High preserve you to his holy Church in holiness and health for many days to come. Given at the monastery of Arbroath in Scotland on 6 April in the year of grace 1320 and the fifteenth year of the reign of our aforesaid king.
[Endorsed:] Letter sent to the supreme lord the pope by the community of Scotland.
[Tags and sealing]†
[1] Seal of [Duncan,] earl of Fife.
[2] Seal of [Thomas Randolph,] earl of Moray.
[3] Seal of [Patrick de Dunbar,] earl of March.
[4] Seal of [Malise,] earl of Strathearn.
[5] Seal of [Malcolm,] earl of Lennox.
[6] Alan de Callander.
[7] Seal of [William,] earl of Ross.
[8] Seal of [Magnus,] earl of Caithness.
[9] John de Inchmartin.
[10] Seal of [William,] earl of Sutherland.
[11] Seal of Walter the steward of Scotland.
[12] William de Soules.
[13] Seal of James, [lord] of Douglas.
[14] Seal of Roger de Mowbray.
[15] Seal of David de Brechin.
[16] Seal of David de Brechin.†
[17] Seal of Ingeram de Umfraville.
[18] Seal of John de Menteith.
[19] Seal of Alexander Fraser.
[20] Seal of Gilbert de Hay.
[21] Seal of Robert de Keith.
[22] Seal of Alexander de Lamberton.
[23] Seal of Henry de Sinclair.
[24] Seal of John de Graham.
[25] Thomas de Meneris [?Menzies].
[26] Seal of David de Lindsay.
[27] Seal of William de Oliphant.
[28] Seal of Patrick de Graham.
[29] Seal of John de Fenton.
[30] Seal of Thomas de Morham.
[31] Seal of William de Abernethy.
[32] Seal of David de Wemyss.
[33] Seal of William de Muschet.
[34] Roger Mowat.
[35] [Blank.]
[36] Seal of Fergus de Ardrossan.
[37] Seal of Eustace de Maxwell.
[38] Seal of William de Ramsay.
[39] Seal of William de Mowat.
[40] Seal of Alan de Moray.†
[41] Seal of Donald Campbell.
[42] Edward de Keith
[43] Martin ...bel [? Campbell].
[44] Seal of J. Cambrun [?Cameron]
[45] Seal of Reginald Cheyne.
[46] Seal of Alexander de Seton.
[47] Seal of Alexander de Lescelyn
[48] Seal of Alexander de Straton.
[49] [Blank.]
[50] David de Graham.
[51] John Duraunt.[1]

 Declaration of Arbroath, Scottish Barons, Public Domain, Copyright Free

[1] The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, K.M. Brown et al eds (St Andrews, 2007-2016), 1320/4/1

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