In days without a king or during a royal minority, a guardian was elected to lead nobles and realm. David II was born in 1329, the year his father Robert I died. A hero father who cast a long shadow. David was too young to rule and it proved too dangerous for him to remain in Scotland. The heir to the throne was taken to France when he was 3 years old.
Andrew Murray, husband of King Robert I‘s sister Christian Bruce and uncle of the young David, was elected guardian of Scotland in 1332.
Murray was a powerful magnate who held the lordship of Garioch since 1315. His powerful opponent was Edward Balliol who claimed the throne for himself (he even took it for a short time in 1332) His men took Murray somewhere near Bothwell in 1333. Bothwell belonged to Andrew Murray, his wife held on to Kildrummy castle in Mar and saw her husband released in July 1334. The guardian was back.
The importance of Andrew Murray is shown by the fact that the exchequer paid 1000 Pounds ransom, the sum was originally intended for the marble tomb of King Robert I in Dunfermline, the legend king and Murray’s brother in law. Murray‘s father had fought with William Wallace at the battle of Stirling Bridge, the son fought a guerrilla war against the English winning back castle after castle and managing a quick and decisive victory for the Scottish cause in the Battle of Culblean in Aberdeenshire in 1335.
The guardian of the realm was not only fighting the English. As it often happened in Scotland during the centuries, it was also a fight among nobles for power and the fight for succession during the minority of David II raged on. Davids future kingship was far from secure. Robert Steward, the son of Marjorie Bruce and grandson to Robert the Bruce, claimed the throne for himself. And he had support.
Andrew Murray fought a decisive battle in 1335:
“Culblean was a morale-boosting triumph for the Bruce cause. But what really tipped the scales in favour of David‘s supporters in Scotland was the drift towards actual rather than phoney war between Edward III and Philipp VI and their armed kingdoms.“
Michael A. Penman: David II, 1329 – 71. Edinburgh, John Donald,2004; p. 62
A lot of nobles left the country for France and Balliol without support.
The country was left in a sorry state, regions were ravaged by fighting and hard winters. Many died of starvation. But the guardian had to make sacrifices to hold the country for his nephew.
Murray died of a sudden disease or maybe even a wound he had received at the siege of Edinburgh castle at the age of 40 in April 1338. He was at first interred where his father was buried, in Fortrose cathedral.
Some historians claim he was buried in the chapel of Rosemarkie (the first cathedral in Ross) before being transferred to Dunfermline.
Fortrose (at Murray’s time of death cathedral in Ross) claims that to itself.
The guardian of Scotland Sir Andrew Murray was buried here in 1338 before his remains were moved to Dunfermline Abbey.
The young king came back to Scotland three years after Murray’s death.
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Scotland is a country full of history, stories and secrets. Often, the three cannot be separated. That is what makes this country so wonderful and unique. These stories have been discovered and gathered for Erkenbach’s blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years. Her main sources were historical travel guides from the 18th and 19th centuries, where the finds were scary, beautiful, funny, and sometimes, cruel. This unusual approach to a country’s history has produced amazing results. You don’t have to share the author’s passion for cemeteries to enjoy this book; only a small number of the stories in this collection take place in graveyards, though they do all end in them, so perhaps it helps.
The fairy hill in Inverness, a nitrate murder on Shetland, a family of left-handers, wolves, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace shown in a new light, the secret bay of the writer Gavin Maxwell, a murdering poet and everything about Scotland except whisky, sheep and tartan.
Scotland for Quiet Moments is available as ebook and paperback on Amazon.
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