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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 and Contractual Kingship:Reading the Deposition Clause in the Middle Ages1 (Dauvit Broun (Glasgow))


Dauvit Broun (Glasgow)

The Declaration of Arbroath and Contractual Kingship:Reading the Deposition Clause in the Middle Ages1

Abstract: This paper provides new insights, based in part on work on a new edition of the Declaration, into its importance in the late Middle Ages, and offers a solution to why it was not referred to until more modern times as a statement of contractual kingship. It argues that the immediate political context of 1320 suggests that the deposition clause was written not to justify Robert Bruce’s kingship, or to reflect a constitutional principle, but as an attempt to show that the Bruce party were prepared to go to any lengths to remain in power, even if Robert I or his infant heir were no longer alive.

Keywords: HistoryArbroath; medievalism; kingship; contract; deposition; constitution; power; politics; myths; renown; Robert I

The Declaration of Arbroath is a letter to Pope John XXII, dated 6 April 1320 at Arbroath, written in the name of the barons of Scotland and the “whole community of the kingdom”. As is well known, its designation as the ‘Declaration of Arbroath’ is only about a century old (Cowan 2003a, 5). In the Middle Ages it was described more prosaically as a letter of noble Scots to the pope complaining about the king of England (Scott/Watt 1996, 4; Skene 1871, 402; see also Skene 1877, 201, 252).2 Archie Duncan (1971, 177–180; Duncan 188,149 f) argued convincingly that the...

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