Sunday, May 5, 2013

Elizabeth de Burgh, Queen of Scots

Robert Bruce's queen, held prisoner by the English. To quote:
Elizabeth de Burgh was born c. 1289. Her father was Richard, 2nd Earl of Ulster and one of King Edward I’s most prominent Anglo-Irish supporters. Her mother was Margarite de Burgh. As with most medieval women we know little of her upbringing. It is more than likely Elizabeth received the education due to a lady of her birth and status. We do know that six years after the death of Bruce’s first wife Isabella, Bruce held the title of Earl of Carrick and he was supporting King Edward I. He probably met Elizabeth de Burgh at the English court. Either Edward chose Elizabeth as Bruce’s bride or Bruce transferred his allegiance to Edward, hoping to ally himself to the Earl of Ulster. Elizabeth and Bruce were married in 1302 at Writtle in Essex, England. She was thirteen years old and he was twenty-eight.

After much fighting and switching of allegiances, Robert the Bruce gained the Scottish throne and Elizabeth and Robert were crowned King and Queen of Scots at Scone on March 27, 1306. The crowning was in direct violation of English claims of suzerainty over Scotland. There was more fighting and within a few weeks of the coronation, Bruce was defeated by John of Lorne on the borders of Argyll and Perthshire.

Bruce’s situation was bad enough that he wanted his family to be taken where they would be safe. Bruce enlisted his brother Niall and the Earl of Atholl to escort his family to Kildrummy Castle, the seat of the Earl of Mar on the northwest coast. Bruce’s whole family went including Elizabeth, her step-daughter Marjorie, and Bruce’s two sisters Christian and Mary. They took refuge in the castle but without any delay, the castle was besieged. A traitor from the inside set fire to some grain in the great hall and the stronghold was forced to surrender. Niall Bruce was captured but Elizabeth and the rest of the family were able to escape. Just as the English army was approaching, they desperately rode further north while being pursued by William, Earl of Ross. They were possibly trying to sail to Orkney. They had to stop for shelter in the sanctuary of St. Duthac in Tain. Ross violated the sanctuary and forced his way in, seizing the women.

Queen Elizabeth was held prisoner in the manor house of Burstwick in Holderness and was only allowed to have two elderly women in attendance. Christian was sent to a Lincolnshire nunnery. Mary was held in a cage made of timber and iron in Roxburgh Castle. At first Marjorie was held in the Tower of London but she was then sent to a Yorkshire nunnery. They all were held captive for eight years. (Read entire post.)

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