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Documentary Analysis of the Declaration of Arbroath

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Documentary Analysis of the Declaration of Arbroath

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Documentary Analysis: The Declaration of Arbroath

The Declaration of Arbroath is, by far, one of the most celebrated documents in Scottish History. Since it's rediscovery in the 19th century it has become a symbol of national pride for Scots everywhere. However, one might begin to wonder not only, why this is so, but if the declaration does in fact deserve its mythical status. In order to even begin to answer these questions it is important to examine the document's historical context, content and, most importantly, its significance. In 1314, Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, led his army to an unlikely victory over the English at Bannockburn. It was one of the first decisive victories for the Scots over their enemies. Unfortunately for Bruce this was not enough to end the War of Independence against a determined Edward II. (Maclean, 2005) Scotland's domestic position improved dramatically after Bannockburn, however, due to poor relations with Pope John XXII the country did not enjoy much international support. Bruce had been excommunicated by the pope for the in church murder of John Comyn in 1306. For this reason, he was not recognized as king from the time of his inauguration until 1320 when the declaration was written. To make matters worse, England enjoyed great relations with the papacy and in 1319 Edward II was able to persuade the pope to excommunicate the whole kingdom of Scotland. In 1317, Pope John XXII attempted to negotiate peace between the two countries; however, both Edward and Robert the Bruce were unwilling to succumb to each others demands. After twenty years of mostly uninterrupted war Bruce, his nobles and the people of Scotland were growing increasingly more desperate for an end to the fighting. By 1320 relations with the pope were in crisis and if the Scots ever wanted peace with England something had to be done. It is under these circumstances in 1320 that the Declaration of Arbroath took rise.

The declaration of Arbroath was...