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Scotland and Arbroath 1320 – 2020

700 Years of Fighting for Freedom, Sovereignty, and Independence


Edited By Klaus Peter Müller

700 years of people in Scotland, England, Europe, and the world fighting for freedom, sovereignty, independence and justice are investigated in the essential periods and cultures since the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath: the Middle Ages, the Reformation and Early Modern Age, the English Revolution, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Cultural, media, political, and social studies, history, the law, art, philosophy, and literature are used for an analysis of the evolution of human rights, democracy, freedom, individual as well as national independence and justice in connection with past and present threats to them. Threats from politics, the economy, digitalisation, artificial intelligence, people's ignorance.


With contributions by Alasdair Allan MSP, Christopher J. Berry, Neil Blain, Alexander Broadie FRSE, Dauvit Broun, Mark P. Bruce, Ewen A. Cameron, Robert Crawford, Ian Duncan, Richard J. Finlay, David Forrest, Edouard Gaudot, Marjory Harper, Sarah Longlands, Ben McConville, David McCrone, Aileen McHarg, John Morrison, Klaus Peter Müller, Hugh O’Donnell, Murray Pittock, Anthony Salamone, David R. Sorensen, Silke Stroh, Christopher A. Whatley and Ben Wray.

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The Declaration of Arbroath in the Shadow of Scotus (Alexander Broadie (Glasgow))


Alexander Broadie (Glasgow)

The Declaration of Arbroath in the Shadow of Scotus

Abstract: The Declaration’s political message is underpinned by doctrines of medieval philosophy and moral theology. Strong similarities between teachings by John Duns Scotus and the philosophical doctrines in the Declaration are revealed. Influential historical causal links and frameworks enlighten discussions of a king’s (Robert Bruce’s) authority depending on the people, the right of succession, divine providence and human choice. Scotus’s concept of the penitent thief is the starting point for a doctrine of entitlement to rule, the establishment of sovereignty and justice, and Scotland’s independence from England.

Keywords: History; Arbroath; medievalism; Duns Scotus; philosophy; succession; providence; justification; sovereignty; justice; kingship; independence; Scotland; England; authority; government; theology; morality; consent; rights

The Declaration of Arbroath was composed at a defining moment of Scotland’s history and was integral to the tremendous sequence of events then unfolding. Date-lined “Arbroath Abbey, 6th April 1320”, the Declaration was a letter written in the name of the “whole community of the realm of Scotland”, a collective entity whose membership was drawn from Scotland’s freemen, its earls, barons, bishops, and so on.1 The Declaration was addressed to Pope John XXII and beseeched him to exhort Edward II, King of England, to stop harassing his northern neighbour. Much of the letter is taken up with the topic of the relation between the Scots and their monarch. My purpose here is to demonstrate the considerable extent to which the Declaration’s...

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