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What was the Declaration of Arbroath?


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Answered 2006-08-24 20:43:29

Written in the year 1320 possibly by Bernard de Linton, Abbot of Arbroath and Chancellor of Scotland. Above the seals of eight Earls and forty five Barons, it asked for the Pope's dispassionate intervention in the bloody quarrel between Scotland and England, and so that he might understand the difference between the two. It's preamble gave him a brief history of the former. The laughable fiction of the preamble is irrelevant. What is important is the passionate sincerity of the men who believed it, who were placing a new Nationalism over their own feudal obligations. Blessed by Christ and protected by St Andrew, said the preamble, the Scots had enjoyed their freedom in peace until it was stolen from them by the English. Then neither age nor sex, religion nor rank, monk nor nun, had been safe from cruelty, massacre, violence, pillage and arson, outrages which 'no one could describe nor fully imagine unless he had seen them with his own eyes'. From such evils Scotland had been delivered at last by it's tireless Prince and King, the Lord Robert. They were, of course, looking for the sympathy vote neglecting to mention that the above crimes were commited by the Scots on the English as well, during the many raids and invasions of years gone by. However, the Declaration goes on 'Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our Kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself. Let the Pope urge the King of England to 'leave us Scots in peace, who live in this poor Scotland... and covet nothing but his own'. If he did not, if he lent too credulous an ear to the English, then he must take responsibility for the 'slaughter of bodies, the perdition of souls, and all the other misfortunes that will follow'. In it's mixture of defiance and supplication, nonsensical history and noble thought, two things make The Decralation of Arbroath the most important document in Scottish History. Firstly it set the will and the wishes of the people above the King. Though they were bound to him 'both by law and his merits' it was so that their freedom might be maintained. If he betrayed them he would be removed and replaced. Secondly, the manifesto affirmed the nation's independence in a way no battle could, and justified it with a truth that is beyond nation and race. Man has a right to freedom and a duty to defend it with his life. The natural qualifications put upon this by a medieval Baron are irrelevant, as are the reservations which slave-owning Americans placed upon their declaration of indepedence. The truth once spoken cannot be checked, the seed once planted controls it's own growth, and the liberty which men secure for themselves must be given by them to others, or it will be taken as they took it. Freedom is a hardy plant and must flower in equality.

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Related Questions

When did Declaration of Arbroath happen?

Declaration of Arbroath happened in 1320.


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The Declaration of Arbroath was signed.


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It was written in the year 1296, during the war of independence, and was signed on the 5th of April 1320. Hope this helped you!


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