On this day April 6, 1320

The Scots reaffirm their independence by signing the Declaration of Arbroath , and set out to confirm Scotland’s status as an independent, sovereign state and its use of military action when unjustly attacked.

Declaration of Arbroath

It is in the form of a letter submitted to Pope John XXII, dated 6 April 1320. Sealed by fifty-one magnates and nobles, the letter is the sole survivor of three created at the time.

The others were a letter from the King of Scots, King Robert I, and a letter from four Scottish bishops which all presumably made similar points.

The Declaration was part of a broader diplomatic campaign which sought to assert Scotland’s position as a kingdom, rather than being a feudal land controlled by England, as well as lift the excommunication of Robert the Bruce.

The Pope had recognised Edward I of England’s claim to overlordship of Scotland in 1305 and Bruce was excommunicated by the Pope for murdering John Comyn on the altar in Greyfriars Church in Dumfries in 1306.

The Declaration made a number of much-debated rhetorical points: that Scotland had always been independent, indeed for longer than England; that Edward I of England had unjustly attacked Scotland and perpetrated atrocities; that Robert the Bruce had delivered the Scottish nation from this peril; and, most controversially, that the independence of Scotland was the prerogative of the Scots people, rather than the King of Scots. In fact it stated that the nobility would choose someone else to be king if the current one did anything to threaten Scotland’s independence.

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