The Declaration of Arbroath

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The Declaration of Arbroath

Arbroath, Angus and Dundee The 6th of April 1320 AD

Two aspects of the Declaration of Arbroath mean that long after it was written it remains of great relevance to the Scots, and to a wider audience in politics worldwide.
Written (in Latin) in support of Robert the Bruce , excommunicated for his waging of war against the English who were regarded by John XXII as overlords of Scotland (and for a brutal murder committed in church), the Declaration was prepared by Abbot Bernard of Arbroath, then Chancellor to King Robert. Eight earls and five times that number of other nobles had their seals attached to the document before it was sped on its way to Avignon.
The most obvious element of the document that has ensured its fame, at least in its homeland, is that it amounts to a declaration of Scots national identity, of the desperate desire to be free of the English rule that was constantly a threat: “As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule”.
The second aspect that makes this a great document of major historical significance is that it sets out the case for a king’s rule being subject to the approval of the people ruled – in this document saying that were a king to give Scotland to the English the nobles would select another. This was a radical idea in 1320; indeed it would remain so for many centuries.
A copy of the Declaration is kept in Edinburgh , in Scotland’s National Archives.

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