Monday, September 30, 2013

Princess Marjorie Bruce

It is from Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert Bruce, that all the royalty of Scotland is descended, and for that matter, all the Kings and Queens of England, beginning with the Stuarts. Hers was a short life (she died at nineteen) but her descendants are many indeed. From Susan Abernethy:
At the end of June 1306, Bruce decided to send his family away for safety. Queen Elizabeth, Marjorie, and Bruce’s sisters Christian and Mary were given an escort of Bruce’s brother Niall and the Earl of Atholl and set off across the lands of Atholl, over the hills of Braemar until they reached the stronghold of Kildrummy Castle. They were only there a short time before the English sent troops to find them. Someone in the castle set fire to the castle’s store of grain and the castle surrendered but not before the ladies escaped in the chaos.

They were probably headed for the security of the Orkney Islands and on the way they took sanctuary in the small chapel of St. Duthac’s at Tain in Ross-shire. The Earl of Ross was no friend of Bruce and he violated the sanctuary and seized the ladies. Ross sent them south to become prisoners of King Edward in England. Along the way, the Earl of Atholl had been captured and Niall was seized along with the ladies. Atholl was hung and Niall was hung, drawn and quartered at Berwick upon Tweed.

Of the four captured women, Queen Elizabeth was treated the least harshly by King Edward. She was the daughter of his friend after all. She spent time in the Tower of London as well as other places and was allowed servants. Bruce’s sister Christian spent her imprisonment in the Gilbertine Nunnery at Sixhills in Lincolnshire. His other sister Mary was confined in a solid latticed cage of timber and iron and hung over the walls of Roxburgh Castle.

Edward had severe and punitive plans for Marjorie. He ordered the construction of cage like the one Mary was confined in to be built. He wanted the cage hung from the Tower of London and was not going to allow anyone to speak to Marjorie. But this was particularly cruel and unusual punishment for a twelve year old girl. Some of Edward’s advisors counseled him against this treatment, so he rescinded the order and had Marjorie confined at the Gilbertine nunnery at Watton in East Yorkshire. (Read more.)

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