Highland Clan Warfare in Scotland Part II: Robert the Bruce’s Struggle with King Edward II to Rule Scotland
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius
“In 1306, Scotland is ruled by English King Edward I. The Scottish King John Balliol (pronounced “bay-lee-ull”) is in exile and Robert Bruce, a clan chief, has a legitimate claim to the Scottish throne through his grandfather.
Bruce and bitter rival John Comyn (pronounced “com-on”) met at Greyfriars Chuch to negotiate as both men wanted to claim the Scottish throne. Bruce chose Greyfriars Church because it was considered a building of sanctuary and neutrality. Amongst Bruce’s retinue were his brother Edward and his longtime friend Neil Campbell. Bruce starts the meeting with logic, stating that the Scottish throne is vacant and tied to him through the blood of his grandfather. Comyn and Bruce get into a heated argument and Bruce stabs Comyn with a dagger, killing him. Although this was not recorded as the original plan, some scholars believe it was intentionally orchestrated to remove Comyn as a blockade to the Scottish throne. The sin of committing murder within the hallowed grounds of a church meant that Bruce’s soul was believed to be damned to Hell for all eternity. Legally, the punishment for such an act is execution and for next of kin to be imprisoned or worse.
The term “clan” means “children” in Gaelic, with clans being organized around the central idea of family and kinship, with duties shared amongst everyone who can claim kinship to the clan chief.
The kindred of Comyn, chief of the Comyn Clan, belong to the most powerful clan in Scotland, controlling vast swaths of land in the north and are allied with powerful Dougall Clan, (pronounced “do-gall”) a faction which controls the western Highlands. The Bruce Clan controls the southwest of Scotland and has clan supporters and followers like the Campbell Clan, allowing for reinforcement of the Bruce Clan when needed.
The murder of Comyn pitted various clans against eachother in open warfare. There were approximately 50 clans in Scotland during this era and these clans attempted to ally with”