Declaration of Arbroath
To the Most High Holy Father in Christ and Lord, the Lord John, by divine
providence Supreme Pontift 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, Macolm, Earl of Lennos, William, earl of Ross, Magnus, Earl of
Caithness and Orkney and William, Earl of Sutherland; Walter, Stewart 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 St. Clair,
John Graham, David Lindsay, William Oliphant, Patrick Graham, John Fenton,
William Abernathy, David Wemyss, William Mushet, Fergus of Ardrossan, Eustace
Maxwell, William Ramsey, 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 from the chronicles and books of the
ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been
graced with widespread renown. They
journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of
Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage
tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race however barbarous.
Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel
crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today.
The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and
even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English,
they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and,
as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all
bondage ever since. In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen
kings of their own royal stock, the line unbroken by a single foreigner.
The high qualities and deserts of these people, were they not otherwise
manifest, gain glory enough 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 parts of
the earth, almost the first to His most holy faith.
Nor would He have them confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by
the first of His Apostles by calling though second or third in rank the
most gentle Saint Andrew, the Blessed Peterís brother, and desired him to
keep them under his protection as their patron for ever.
The Most Holy Fathers your predecessors gave careful heed to these
things and bestowed many favours and numerous privileges on this same kingdom
and people, as being the special charge of the Blessed Peterís brother.
Thus our nation under their protection did indeed live in freedom and
peace up to the time when that mighty prince the King of the English, Edward,
the father of the one who reigns today, when our kingdom has no head and our
people harboured no malice or treachery and were then unused to wars or
invasions, came in the guise of a friend and ally to harass them as an enemy.
The deeds of cruelty, massacre, violence, pillage, arson, imprisoning
prelates, burning down monasteries, robbing and killing monks and nuns, and
yet other outrages without number which he committed against our people,
sparing neither age nor sex, religion nor rank, on one could describe nor
fully imagine unless he had seen them with his own eyes.
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 tireless Prince King
and Lord, the Lord Robert. He,
that his people and his heritage might be delivered out of the hands of our
enemies, met toil and fatigue, hunger and peril, like another Maccabaeus or
Joshua, and bore them cheerfully. Him,
too, divine providence his right of succession according to our laws and
customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent and assent
of us all have made our Prince and King.
To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought unto our
people, we are bound both by law and by his merits that our freedom may be
still maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand.
Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our
kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert
ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own
rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our
King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we an any
conditions be brought under English rule.
It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are
fighting, but for freedom for that alone, which no honest man gives up but
with life itself.
Therefor it is, Reverend Father and Lord, that we beseech your Holiness with
our most earnest prayers and suppliant hearts, inasmuch as you will in your
sincerity and goodness consider all this, that, since with Him Whose
vice-gerent on earth you are there is neither weighing nor distinction of Jew
and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman, you will look with the eyes of a father on
the troubles and privations brought by the English upon us and upon the Church
of God. May it please you to
admonish and exhort the King of the English, who ought be satisfied with what
belongs to him since England used once to be enough for seven kings or more,
to leave us Scots in peace, who live in this poor little Scotland, beyond
which there is on dwelling place at all, and covet nothing but our own.
We are sincerely willing to do anything for him, having regard to our
condition, that we can, to win peace for ourselves.
This truly concerns you, Holy Father, since you see the savagery of the
heathen raging against the Christian, as the sins of Christians have indeed
deserved, and the frontiers of Christendom being pressed inward every day; and
how much it will tarnish your holinessís memory if (which God forbid) the
Church suffers eclipse or scandal in any branch of it during your time, you
must perceive. 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 on had with their neighbours.
The real reason that prevents them is that in making war on their
smaller neighbours they find quicker profit and weaker resistance.
But how cheerfully our Lord the King and we too would go there if the
King of the English would leave us in peace, He from Whom nothing is hidden
well knows; and we profess and declare it to you as the vicar of Christ and to
But if your Holiness puts too much faith in the tales the English tell and
will not give sincere belief to all this, nor refrain from favouring them to
our prejudice, 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 surely laid by the most High to your charge.
To conclude, we are and shall ever be, as far as duty calls us, ready to do
your will in all things, as obedient sons to you as His Vicar; and to Him as
the Supreme King and Judge, we commit the maintenance of our cause, casting
our cares upon Him and firmly trusting that He will inspire us with courage
and bring our enemies to nought.
May the Most High preserve you to His Holy Church in holiness and health and
grant you length of days.
Given at the monastery of Arbroath in Scotland on the sixth day of the month
of April in the year of grace thirteen hundred and twenty and the fifteenth
year of the reign of our King aforesaid.