The Declaration of Arbroath


Although the English armies under Edward II were routed at Bannockburn in 1314 and with the recapture of Berwick in 1319, which effectively expelled the English Forces from Scottish soil, the English continued to mount attacks into Robert the Bruce's Scotland over the succeeding years. The Pope had not accepted Scottish independence, perhaps partially because Robert the Bruce had been excommunicated for killing John Comyn in a abbey in Dumfries in 1306, to ensure his hereditary right to the Throne Of Scone.

Thus the Declaration of Arbroath was prepared as a formal Declaration of Independence. It was drawn up in Arbroath Abbey on the 6th April 1320, most likely by the Abbot, Bernard de Linton, who was also the Chancellor of Scotland. The Declaration urged the Pope to see things from a Scottish perspective and not to take the English claim on Scotland seriously. It used strong words, indicating that without acceptance of the Scottish case that the wars would continue and the resultant deaths would be the responsibility of the Pope. The original Declaration of Arbroath tells the Pope that the Scots nobles would even be prepared to cast out their beloved Robert the Bruce as King of Scotland if he were ever to take the side of the English again; as he did at the Battle of Falkirk.  

It famously states: "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". The Declaration was signed and bore the seals of 38 Scots Lords. It was conveyed to Rome and the Pope accepted the Scottish case.

Every Modern Day Scot knows that the Declaration of Arbroath as one of the greatest and most important statements of human rights and Democracy ever written. But there are few Americans who are aware that it had as powerful an influence on the Founding of The United States as did on establishing a free Scotland. Nearly 500 years after it was written it was used perhaps to help shape the American Declaration of Independence. The rousing, central words of the American Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776 bear a striking resemblance the bold sentiments and cry for justice and human rights made in Scotland by the Bruce's nobles and bishops in 1320.

But, why would the Founding Fathers of The United States who were trying to establish a fledgling American Republic use this document of antiquity as one of their guiding lights? Perhaps because more than half of our Founding Fathers were of recent Scot descent and knew the importance that the Declaration of Arbroath had on the establishment of a free Scotland under self rule.

The influence of the Scotland in the creation of the United States of America can never be over stated. Even today the presence of Scotland's greatest Warrior King is real and the legacy he left can still be witnessed throughout the whole Scotland and its People. 

And perhaps Scotland’s Fight for freedom can be seen in the Founding Documents of The United States and in the Love of Freedom that is in Her Great People.



The Declaration of Arbroath in the original Latin

The Declaration of Arbroath Translated in to English