ROBERT the BRUCE
by Eric Ferguson
Copyright © 1995 by Eric Ferguson. All rights reserved.
5732 Bossen Terr.#2
Minneapolis, MN 55417
voice/fax (612) 726-6364
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed, Or to victorie!
-- from "Scots Wha Hae" by Robert Burns,
to the tune of "Bruce's Address"
|GENRE:|| ||Historical drama|
|SYNOPSIS:|| ||This play is about Robert the Bruce, a king of Scotland during the
middle ages. The play starts with the beginning of his rebellion against English
occupation. His war starts when he kills his rival in a church. He claims the
Scottish crown and, after his army is destroyed, carries out a guerrilla
campaign against England and his Scottish enemies. After reaching the point of
having a small band of men and no territory, he rebuilds his forces and wins
control of Scotland. At the battle of Bannockburn, he routs a huge English force
and establishes effective Scottish independence. He seeks English recognition of
his claim to the crown, and gets it just before his death. During the play,
Bruce struggles with his conscience over the killing of his rival and the
suffering caused by the war. He also tries to avoid becoming like the cruel
English king he went to war against, but he also earns the name "Good King
Robert". This play is a universal story of struggle against long odds, heroism,
|CAST:|| ||There are 20 characters, but many parts can be combined. Probably the play
can be done by one woman and 14 men. Ages range from teens to 70, but the long
length of time over which the play takes place makes much fudging possible.|
|ESTIMATED LENGTH:|| ||I estimate around two hours, but there are opportunities for
as much stage combat as the producer cares to throw in.|
|SCENES:|| ||There are 26 scenes, but scenic requirements are very simple. Scene
changes can be accomplished by moving one or two set pieces or lighting changes.
Even merely exits and entrances will change scenes. It need be no more
complicated than any simple production of a Shakespeare play.|
|REQUIREMENTS:|| ||Fees are negotiable for productions. I would permit free use for
classes, readings and workshops. Artistic requirements: as nice as historically
accurate costumes and props would be, the play could be done minimalistically;
again, use the same sort of guidelines as producing Shakespeare. Colorblind
casting is fine. Dialects are unnecessary as the characters are often not
speaking English, and when they are it would be drastically different from
modern English, but that can be director's discretion.|
|NOTES:|| ||Robert the Bruce was read at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis on
January 4, 1996. It is based on three modern biographies of Robert Bruce and on
the 14th century epic poem The Bruce, by John Barbour. Anyone wanting more
particular information should contact the playwright.|
Robert Bruce (Bruce), age 30's-50's
Edward Bruce, his brother (Edward), 30's-40's
Thomas Randolph, their nephew (Randolph), 20's-40's
Elizabeth, Bruce's wife (Elizabeth) early 20's-early 40's
King Edward of England (Edward I), early 70's
Prince of Wales, his son, later Edward II (Wales), 30's
Edward III, their son (Edward III), mid 10's
Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke (Pembroke), 30's-50's
Robert Clifford (Clifford)
Ingram de Umfraville (Umfraville)
John Comyn, Earl of Buchan (Buchan)
John Comyn the Red, his cousin (Comyn)
Alexander Seton (Seton)
James Douglas (Douglas), 20's-40's
Christian of Carrick, Bruce's former mistress (Christian)
Ian, soldier in Bruce's army (Ian)
Donald, " " (Donald)
MacIntyre, their sergeant (MacIntyre)
Papal Envoy (Envoy)
Bishop William Lamberton (Lamberton)
assorted soldiers, servants, etc.
|PROGRAM NOTES:|| ||
This play is about the man who is the greatest hero in Scottish history. The
story of Robert the Bruce, known to his subjects as Good King Robert, is the
story of Scotland's struggle to regain its independence from England.|
Scotland's King Alexander III died in 1286, leaving as his heir a granddaughter,
known as the Maid of Norway. She died shortly thereafter, leaving no clear
claimant to the Scottish throne. To avoid civil war, the Scottish nobles
requested the arbitration of King Edward I of England, who had just completed
his conquest of Wales. He placed English garrisons in Scotland and heard the
The two strongest claimants were from the two strongest families in Scotland;
the Comyns, represented by an in-law, John Balliol, and the Bruces, represented
by Robert Bruce's grandfather, known as Robert Bruce "the competitor". King
Edward proclaimed himself Overlord of Scotland, and made both claimants swear
fealty to him, which meant they would owe him their loyalty in exchange for
their position, before he would hear their cases. Edward then chose the man he
thought more manipulable, John Balliol. The Bruces never accepted Balliol as
Manipulate Edward did, to such an extent that the Scottish nobles dragged
Balliol into rebellion in 1295. The rebellion was quickly crushed. Edward
captured the city of Berwick and slaughtered the inhabitants. King John was
forced to abdicate. The Bruces (now led by Bruce's father, known as Robert Bruce
the Elder), owing fealty to Edward but not to Balliol, held Carlisle against the
rebel army. However, Edward chose not to bestow the crown on Bruce's father, nor
on anyone else.
In 1296, the rebellion started again when William Wallace and Andrew Moray
organized an army of outlawed men. At the battle of Stirling Bridge, Scottish
peasants armed with spears defeated the English knights. That such a thing could
happen was quite stunning at the time. Moray was killed, but Wallace was
knighted and made Guardian, with the power of a king. Both Bruce and John Comyn
the Red, leader of the Comyns, joined the rebellion. When Wallace was defeated
at Falkirk, Bruce and Comyn became joint Guardians. However, they fell out with
each other, fought separate wars, and made separate peaces. Wallace was captured
by King Edward in 1305 and cruelly executed. He has since been considered a hero
second only to Bruce. Scotland appeared terrorized into pacifity. Our play
begins in 1306, about a year after Wallace's execution and the seeming end of
What was the feudal system? During the time being portrayed, landed men were
granted their lands by a nobleman or the king. They swore fealty, which meant
they promised their loyalty to their lord ("lord" was also a polite term of
address) which meant providing soldiers in time of war. The lord, on his part,
had to protect his vassal's lands.
Knights devoted themselves to training for war. All nobles and royalty had to
earn a knighthood. Knights were an international class, often having land in
more than one country (the Bruces held land in Scotland, England, and Ireland)
and swearing fealty to different lords. This could result in conflicting
loyalties in wartime. Loyalties were personal rather than national. Churchmen,
by contrast, tended to spend their lives in one country and were far more
(Bruce and Bishop Lamberton are waiting to meet the Comyns)
Robert, the bishops are of one
mind on this---aside from those appointed by King Edward.
Does the Pope support your demands
Probably not. Edward has a lot
of influence with him; the best we can hope for is that he will stay out. But,
if we present him with an accomplished fact and hope of a another crusade, he'll
Why are you so determined to have
me lead another rebellion?
You're the only candidate left.
Not that you're not our best general, you are, and if I have to say that to the
Comyns when they arrive, I will; but the relevant point is that you're the only
one who can lead.
William, I think you're forgetting
how disliked I am by the Comyn faction. If I was in command, they would switch
to the English side without a second thought.
You would win over many Comyn
supporters. They also want independence and will follow whoever can deliver it.
Some victories, your personal charm, and they will follow you. Those that don't
will be so few in number you will have little trouble to defeat them in the
field. The active support of the church will bring you funds and large numbers
of recruits. And don't forget your reputation for chivalry, which is sure to
bring many foreign knights to your side.
You're a little too optimistic I
think. Men will think I fight strictly in my own cause...
They know John Balliol to be an
Then there's his son Edward for
them to rally around.
There's no one ready to fight
for King John anymore. He is disgraced, and rightly or wrongly his abdication
makes his son's claim questionable.
And what will the Comyns say?
Forget the Comyns! They're
discredited since surrendering. They couldn't rally anyone but their own
vassals, hardly enough for a war.
There is the question of whether
the country will rally around anybody! Everyone is exhausted after eight years
of war. The country still lies in ruins, Edward has everyone terrified...
No Robert, he has them angry.
Scared, yes, but angry. They need only a bit of hope to make them rise up again.
Perhaps, Robert, you're the one who has grown scared.
When I joined the rebellion I went
directly opposite my father's orders, and he had his instructions from King
Edward. Nobody can call me "scared". Perhaps I've just grown more sensible.
Sensible enough to give up your
family's claim to the crown?
Of course not. William, do you
think I could forget the promise I made my grandfather? Right after the
arbitration was over, and King Edward awarded Scotland's crown to John Balliol,
my grandfather made me promise to never cease pursuing our family's claim. Not
my father, not an uncle, me.
It's your crown now Robert, has
been since your father died. It's only waiting for you to claim it.
Now is not the time!
Of course not! Edward would
squash you, then who knows how badly this country would feel his wrath. But he
is old and, as I understand, ill. His death will offer the opportunity we're
I'll see for myself. I have to
attend the English parliament and give homage to Edward. Then I'll know. You're
right, his time can't be long in coming. What about the Comyns? I can't just
spring this on them when Edward dies, they'll assume I'm attacking them.
That's why you must come to
some understanding with Red Comyn beforehand. Offer him your crown...
Is that why you arranged this
...in exchange for his land. Or
the other way around, contingent of course on you being able to assert your
What if he chooses the crown?
You would have all his lands
and he would have a crown he can't use. Remember, the claim isn't his
personally, it's Balliol's, and no one will rally to Balliol anyway.
(He looks out a window.)
Red Comyn is here. Looks like he brought his black cousin with
him. Time to decide.
(Comyn and Buchan enter.)
Greetings your grace.
Welcome my lords.
(pause) Well, now that we're done
with the small talk, why am I here?
The Earl of Carrick has an
offer which will end the enmity between your houses, or at least give a final
resolution to the dispute over Scotland's crown.
What dispute? King John's claim is
(Bruce starts to answer. Lamberton stops him.)
The Bruces' claim will be
relinquished to you, in exchange for all your lands.
Small price for my lands. What do
you think I own, a couple shielings and a cow?
Or else you relinquish your
family's claim to Bruce, and in exchange receive all of his lands.
And when would I receive them?
When he is able to assert
himself as king, he will grant his lands to you.
You can keep the crown. I'll take
your lands. Draw up the document.
(He presents the
And here is some wax. My lords, you need only affix your
(After hesitating, Bruce and Comyn do so.)
I hope, Comyn, that we have bought
I sincerely hope so too.
(Bruce and Lamberton leave.)
Cousin, tell me it isn't true.
Tell you what isn't true?
Your dreadful deal with Bruce.
You were right here.
But I don't want to believe my
eyes! I am fairly amazed you have placed such trust in such a man. Couldn't you
see how prepared they were for this? What's more, word is bound to get back to
King Edward. Do you know what he'll do to you when he hears about this foolish
It's Bruce who's been the fool,
It's both of you, but you more.
Edward's been a personal friend of the Bruces', and is known to think highly of
the current Earl. He may confiscate his lands and banish him, but you he will
It's well known Edward is near
death; I'm just planning ahead.
I have it from one just back from
Edward's court that he is recovered and quite vigorous for his age.
I must get that document back.
Your little treaty is already
gone! That means word is already out. You better tell Edward before someone else
does; or can't you see what a trap has been set for you?
I'll write him a letter confessing
everything and craving his pardon. I just realized, Bruce will be in his court
by the time Edward gets it.
(Edward I's court. The men are getting roaring drunk, especially the king.
Bruce is next to him, and senses something is wrong.)
You know, don't you Bruce?
Know what, your majesty?
Your father and I were great
He's told you stories, I would
imagine, about our times together during the last crusade.
He told you about the Syrian
(forces a laugh)
You haven't repeated that one to
the wife I'll warrant. You know Bruce, there is a certain sense of loyalty
between men who live through times like those. You know what I mean?
I doubt it. You haven't lived
through times like those. It is a shame. A man could wish such loyalty could be
passed from father to son, just like land or armor. To often I fear it is not,
don't you? I wish it could be drunk like mothers milk. But I fear that, like
milk, loyalty sours. And the consequences are dreadful.
Of course sire. If you'll excuse
me, the wine I had earlier no longer wishes to be contained.
If you have to piss just say so.
Was it at your mother's knee you picked up these prissy manners?
(Bruce leaves and goes to his private rooms. Lights come up as he enters
revealing Elizabeth brushing her hair.)
What are you doing back
Somehow, as I get older, getting
drunk and comparing vomit with other drunks starts to lose its appeal. I thought
I'd do some reading. Why aren't you with the other ladies?
I complained of an upset
Something you ate?
A sudden reaction to the
prospect of another evening of embroidery. The youngest of them is eight years
older than me.
Well, I hope being free of their
company has made you feel better, because it looks like we have some time alone.
(He starts to embrace her.)
Robert, at least let me get the
brush out of my hair. You've got it all tangled.
Here, I'll fix that. Where are your
(She jumps up and giggles. They are interrupted by a knock at their
Bruce, I have to talk to
My old friend Robert Clifford. It's
good to see you again, but this really is a bad time. I'll see you at tomorrow's
But you'll be the quarry. Listen
Bruce, this can't wait! Your life is in imminent danger.
Let's discuss this elsewhere.
No, discuss it here.
There isn't time for this
wrangling. Edward knows about your plot with Red Comyn!
There isn't any plot with any
Fine then, he thinks you're
plotting. When you were out of earshot he started babbling about how you've
betrayed his trust and the terrible things he's going to do to you. He intends
to arrest you tomorrow in front of the parliament.
We must be gone by then.
No, you must go now! Remember,
he's drunk; he might decide not to wait until tomorrow. You can't wait.
You're right. Elizabeth, have a
groomsman start loading our baggage and leave the carts by the main gate. We'll
take two horses and slip out another way. Thank you Robert, I'll never forget
Let me be clear about one thing;
I have warned you out of personal friendship, but I don't like this bargain with
Comyn and I think you brought this on yourself. I want you to know I am loyal to
my king and I will obey his orders, whether to make war, destroy Scottish homes,
whatever, and I'll take any lands he offers me for it.
Fair enough, and I still thank
Good, now be on your way, I'll
try to keep Edward occupied.
(They exit. Blackout)
(The scene is outside Greyfriars church, where Bruce is meeting Comyn. Bruce
enters with brother Edward, MacIntyre, and other men.)
Greyfriars kirk? Why are we
I've arranged to meet with Red
Comyn here. We have much to discuss, and we feel safer from treason inside a
church. In my case I might say further treason.
What do you mean?
I have learned it was Comyn told
Edward of our arrangement.
(Lights come up revealing Comyn's companions.)
Comyn must be inside.
(Bruce enters church.)
(to the other Bruce men.)
against an ambush.
(Lights go down on attendants and up on Comyn as Bruce joins him inside the
Well, I came. What do you want?
I think that's pretty obvious, even
I'll do without the verbal sneers,
Bruce. Just state your business.
We had an agreement Comyn and you
I did no such thing. That agreement
means nothing with Edward still alive.
That's not what I meant and you
know it. You told the king about us, and you wasted little time in doing so.
You mean I avoided your trap. You
were going to tell Edward yourself in hopes of taking my lands and winning his
I had no such intention.
Now it's name calling.
Tell the truth; you still have hope
of gaining the crown for yourself.
Of course I do. That's why I would
have kept the bargain.
No, you would have told Edward to
gain his favor and have him just hand you the crown.
He would hardly have looked
favorably on me.
He already did! Everyone knows your
father was his friend and he liked you. Yes Bruce, it's known far and wide,
Bruce is the favorite of the man who ordered the massacre of Berwick and
murdered William Wallace.
Let's stick to the point Comyn.
Whatever you think I would have done, it was you betrayed me, not the other way
I sought to protect myself. What of
Have you no sense of honor?! You
are the one committed treason!
I will not have my honor questioned
by a man who changes sides as often as he changes clothes.
What does that mean!?
While the rest of us were defending
Scottish liberty, the Bruces were fighting in the service of our oppressor.
We obeyed our oath of fealty to
Edward, the same one Balliol swore. You were the ones who broke it.
What would you have had us do? You
know how King John was dishonored. Edward ignored the promises he made. The
bonds were already broken.
Balliol's bonds were broken, but
nothing Edward did freed us from our bonds. When he gave an order we had to
What about the loyalty you owed to
We never recognized him as
And you wonder why we didn't trust
Are you forgetting that I did join
So now you switch sides and want to
I did so because of Berwick and the
occupation laid on the country, but I never broke my oath until I felt Edward
had behaved dishonorably.
But you went back to him! You were
troublesome when you were with us and then you switched sides again!
I was troublesome? What was
troublesome was your incompetent leadership, that's what drove me out. You were
a horrendous choice for a Guardian! Were your family not so powerful...
As opposed to you, who got
everything on merit? I'll remind you who first made peace with Edward.
And I'll remind you who tried to
win his favor by betraying me.
How can one betray a traitor?
How could I support a man who has
knows nothing of honor or valor?
That's the second time you've
questioned my honor. Do it again and I'll forget where we are.
Now you threaten me? I'll question
your honor, your valor, even your legitimacy.
Take that back!
I'll die first!
And you will!
(Comyn moves, Bruce
thinks he is reaching for a weapon and draws his dagger.)
So that way goes it; that's what you planned all along.
You reached for yours first.
No I didn't, but I'm reaching
(Comyn draws his dagger and they fight. Bruce stabs Comyn. When Bruce sees
Comyn severely wounded he runs out and back to his men.)
I think I've killed Red Comyn!
You "think"? I'll make
(MacIntyre enters the church while drawing a weapon.)
Brother, what have I done? I've
killed him in a church. I may never be forgiven for this.
Keep calm brother. We must act
I can never make peace with the
Comyns now. Even those who hate the Comyns must turn against me. What will King
Edward do? What knight in all Christendom won't think it an honor to kill
Red Comyn is
(Comyn's men hear this declaration. They and Bruce's men attack each other as
Edward tries to calm Bruce. The Comyn men are all killed, Bruce and his
I am at war with the whole world!
(King Edward's court. Present are King Edward, Pembroke, Clifford, the Prince
of Wales, Umfraville, Buchan, and Seton.)
Lords, I have raised a viper at
my breast! This foul knave who enjoyed my company, my friendship to himself and
his father, who has spent considerable time in my court, has turned upon me in a
most treasonous manner. He has claimed a crown that is mine to bestow, broken
all vows of fealty, and committed sacrilege by the killing of his rival in a
church. When I am done he will think I punished Wallace lightly.
Let me lead the attack father.
Not yet. Summon my levies, it's
time for another campaign.
Father, let me have the army. I'll
crush this rebellion.
You have shown yourself a worthy
soldier, but you are not yet a general.
A king must prove himself a
general. How can I do this if I don't get the chance?
You are not king yet boy; you
will have your chance when I say so.
You are not up to the rigors of a
campaign at your age.
There's nothing like a war to
reinvigorate a man.
Do not argue with me! You know
better than to anger me when I am in a temper.
I also have your temper; let me
All right, I'll give you your
own division, make the most of it. Now my lords, I always suspected Bruce, but
when I had proof he slithered away. How did he find out?
Perhaps some of our Scottish
lords are not as loyal as they seem.
Is this true my lords?
Sire, the murdered Comyn was
my best friend in the whole world, and there has long been enmity between myself
and the Bruces.
Red Comyn was my dear cousin Sire.
Why would I help his murderer?
The Bruces have no sense of honor.
God damn me if I ever help them.
A little girl can speak brave
words. Let your blood prove your loyalty. Raise your levies. I will see you next
at Berwick castle, and my epitaph will say I was "The Hammer of the Scots".
(Lights dim as clergy and lords assemble for the coronation. When the lights
come back up, Lamberton places the crown on Bruce's and Elizabeth's heads.)
Let all be witness that I
declare King Robert to have been absolved of all his sins, including the death
of John Comyn. Robert Bruce takes his place as Scotland's king with the blessing
of the holy mother church. Those who fight in his cause against the English
invader serve the will of God as surely as if they joined a crusade to the Holy
Lords, ladies, clergymen, my loyal
subjects. I begin my reign under difficult circumstances. Most of our country
lies occupied. Scottish taxes are sent to England's treasury. Our commerce has
been stopped up, and I must acknowledge that many in our own country oppose me
and will help our enemies. But I ask all to bear witness to the presence here of
almost all of Scotland's bishops and abbots, the presence of several earls, and
many barons besides. And bear witness to the careful observances of Scottish
tradition. We go into the coming war with confidence in the rightness of our
cause, a determination to meet the enemy with honor and valor, and we humbly
crave the blessing of the almighty on our enterprise.
(All kneel as Bruce and Elizabeth start to exit.)
I fear we are but
king and queen of the May.
(lights fade to black.)
(The castle at Perth. Sounds of preparation for battle. Pembroke is speaking
Bruce gave a brave speech I've
been told, but then, as he and Queen Elizabeth, as she now styles herself, were
leaving the coronation, she was overheard to say, "Husband, I fear we are but
king and queen of the May."
Perhaps we should have him
hanged from a maypole.
And instead of swinging ribbons
around it we can swing Bruce corpses.
What do you want Sir Ingram.
To win the battle Sir
We outnumber Bruce's rabble a
good three to one. I don't think that's much of a concern.
He's not renowned as one of
the ablest commanders around for nothing. Even if you win, you will have to
fight him again----unless you use a stratagem I have for you.
Parley with Bruce; tell him it's too late in
the day for a proper battle, but if he'll return to the field tomorrow morning
you'll meet him in open combat.
What's the point of putting it
off until tomorrow?
You don't wait for tomorrow.
When his army is camped for the night you launch a surprise attack. The
combination of surprise and superior numbers should completely destroy his
Why, Sir Ingram, I'm amazed to
hear such an idea put forth by such an advocate of chivalry as yourself.
It's what Bruce deserves. He
is foreign to any notion of chivalry.
Then why will he trust us?
(Umfraville is speechless.)
Yet I think you're right. I'll try it. Come, let's
go lie to the devil.
(They exit, blackout.)
(Bruce's tent at Methven. Night before the expected battle. Bruce, Edward,
Lamberton, and Randolph are relaxing, chatting, and drinking.)
...then the priest says "it
takes more than poison to stop a sinner going to Paris."
(All laugh except
Come on brother, try to relax.
What? Sorry, I can't help feeling
a little tense.
(He raises his cup.)
To whatever it was you were just toasting.
Randolph was telling a joke
Edward. Now we'll start chuckling whenever you're around and you'll always
Forgive me my lords, or my
bishops, or anything else that's sitting around. In truth gentlemen, I feel
uneasy about putting off the battle.
Nonsense Edward, delaying until
morning is a fine suggestion. It will do our reputations much more good to fight
a day-long battle to its proper conclusion than to break it off at suppertime.
We would look like foolish squire boys then.
But you trust them?
Why not? They used the
straightforward language that becomes a knight.
There's a sound in the language
that speaks deceit.
Edward, you were always the
I suppose you're right. My lords,
here's to my elder brother, who will soon be recognized by the whole world as
king, even by King Edward and the Pope. Soon that jackass will say "call me a
Saracen if I ever excommunicate you again".
And soon I'll say, "Call me a
lonely wife if I don't get my husband to myself for a while."
She's right as usual my lords. It's
late already, and I have always been with my lady before a tournament.
(whispered to Randolph)
whatever lady was available.
(They chuckle discretely. Bruce hears but has no idea what the joke was.)
Come on, time enough for laughing
after we win. Good night.
(Bruce ushers out Edward, Randolph, and Lamberton, who
stop a moment outside the tent. They are talking amongst themselves while Bruce
and Elizabeth are talking.)
Robert, how many of them are
How many what?
How many soldiers against
No more than a couple thousand.
And how many are we?
Fewer. You really shouldn't worry
I can't help it. Something
Leave me to worry about it. Maybe
after the battle, if I take the castle, I'll give it to you to do with as
What am I going
to do with a castle?
You'll build the world's biggest
closet, with so many queenly gowns that you'll have to change into a different
one every hour in order to wear them all.
Then I'll cover the whole
castle wall with the world's biggest embroidery.
You can't do that. You'll want to
show off the wall after you knock it down and replace the stones with blocks of
No no, we'll just cover the
stones with gold leaf.
Because it's cheaper. We are
Scots after all.
(Their laughter is interrupted by MacIntyre's entrance.)
(The lords react with
disbelief, some think it's a joke.)
Sire, they're assaulting us on all
To your tents, arm yourselves
(Sounds of battle. The lords dash for their tents. Bruce is just reaching for
his arms when Buchan reaches him.)
Come quick, I have the new-made
(Buchan tries to grapple Bruce. Bruce fights his way clear before help
arrives and exits. Lights come down as the stage clears. Bruce reenters with
Edward and MacIntyre.)
We can account for the captured
Sergeant, you know that wood a few
miles from here? Take what survivors you can and hide there, I'll join you
shortly. We'll wait a couple days to pick up stragglers. Edward, find our
brother Neil, have him take the women and children to Kildrummy castle and
fortify it as best he can. I'll send reinforcements if I'm able. I'll seek out
more of our men. Hurry!
(They exit, Blackout.)
(Bruce's camp. Bruce enters with footsoldiers. Several months have
We'll make camp here. Sergeant, do
we have any tents left?
We have one two-man tent left
Give it to the men who carried the
cooking gear. They did the most work. The rest of you find a space around the
fire. I'll retire in that cave. When supper's over I'll read to you while the
Yes, your majesty.
Sire, there's a woman
approaching with a band of mounted men.
(The soldiers rush to their arms.)
It's all right, I know her.
Christian of Carrick)
Is that really you?
Indeed it is. Or perhaps I
should say indeed it is Your Majesty. You've moved up in the world since last I
If you call this moving up.
Won't you ask me to sit
Of course, won't you step into my
(They sit on stumps or rocks.)
Thank You my lord.
I think in this private
space...relatively private...you may call me Robert.
Ah, such familiarity with a
Some king. I rule the ground I
stand on, and even that is precarious.
Then I bring you good news. I
have brought you 15 men; from the looks of things that almost doubles your
forces. Perhaps more important I have brought you blankets and food.
My dear Christian, you must be sent
by God himself.
I guess God hasn't heard about
the Pope's interdict.
You've heard of it. I suppose the
whole country has by now.
Robert, most of the clergy have
been telling the people that the interdict is meaningless, and that you're God's
instrument to deliver us from the English.
God should keep his instruments
better tuned. I'm sorry, I know I sound morose. I am moved by their support. In
fact, I am always touched when I think of the sacrifices people have made on my
Well, Robert, this might sound
strange coming from a former mistress, but I'm truly sorry to hear about the
What's happened to the queen?
You haven't heard?
I've done little more than hide
these last few months. In fact, I've had no news at all since Methven.
I guess I have a sad mission to
perform. I wish there was an easy way to tell you. Elizabeth tried taking the
women and children to the Orkneys when it became clear Kildrummy would be
surrounded. They were captured shortly after the castle fell. They were taken to
England, and your wife and some other women have been imprisoned in cages and
put on public display at various castles. Your daughter is a prisoner in London
Dear God in heaven, can Edward hate
me that much? What about my brother?
He was besieged by the Prince
of Wales. The garrison held off at least two assaults, but a traitor burned
their food supplies. After they surrendered, the garrison were hanged and
Yes. I'm so sorry.
Have you heard anything of my
brothers Thomas and Alexander? They were attempting a landing in Galloway.
The MacDougals captured them. I
believe they were executed like Wallace. Robert, I grieve for you, I honestly
Grieve for someone who deserves it,
not for a man who destroyed his friends and family.
What a monster I must be! What has
this war accomplished? The death and ruin of everyone I know. Look at these
soldiers; not even a tent to keep the rain off when they could have stayed home.
I must be insane, taking on England with this little army! I can't stay
What are you talking about?
This war is hopeless. I should go
into exile. No, I have lifetimes of penance. I should go to the Holy Land and
fight the Saracens, perhaps that would make the Pope lift my excommunication.
Maybe he would even intercede for my family's release. This is punishment for
Red Comyn's death. God will not give victory to a murderer!
You're not a murderer, the
church has said so. God has forgiven you; you must forgive yourself. Listen to
me! All those who have fought in your behalf have done so willingly. They see
you as Scotland's last hope for liberty. If you want their sacrifices to mean
something you must keep fighting. Robert, are you listening to me?
Yes. Look, I'm not very good
company right now. I need to be alone. You're welcome to stay the night. I'll
have an escort party arranged to see you home tomorrow. Good night.
I'll think about what you said.
(He exits to his cave. Lights dim on Christian who looks after him as he
leaves. Lights come up on soldiers sitting around their campfire. Ian is
grinding leaves. Donald is watching him.)
What are you doing?
Mixing up some medicine for my
What's wrong with it?
It's been bothering me all day. I
think it's just indigestion.
You shouldn't take that right
after a meal, should you?
That's the best time I think.
What are you using?
I don't remember what it's called,
but the leaves are shaped like a stomach.
What's that got to do with
The shape of the leaf tells you what
the plant is good for.
I've never heard that.
That's what my mother always
Wait a minute, this isn't shaped
like a stomach.
Yes it is.
This looks more like an oval.
A stomach is shaped like an oval.
No it's not. You've got one tube
where the food goes in, and there's another where it goes out, so it's shaped
more like a foot.
Your stomach is shaped like your
If a plant was shaped like a foot
you'd use it on your foot, not on your stomach.
You know, it's only a lack of oats
that stops me using you for haggis. Look, herbs match up to the four humors.
You've heard of those I suppose, or are you completely ignorant?
Yes, I've heard of the four humors,
(keeping his voice down)
don't they have something to do with
No, this is the arts of medicine,
a perfectly godly thing. The four humors are these four fluids in your body that
are supposed to balance each other. Let's see, there's blood, bile, phlegm, and,
It's like snot.
So the four humors are blood, bile,
sweat and snot?
Right, and then there's two of
those that are hot and wet, and two are hot and dry, and you look for herbs that
They're all of them wet, and they're
all hot if they've been listening to you for too long.
Am I making you angry?
You're making my snot boil.
stare at each other a moment, then they break down and start laughing. MacIntyre
What on Earth are you two
(Sits himself by the fire.)
Remind me to never put you lads on a cooking detail.
Did you get the Lady Christian all
Yes, then I told her a story
and kissed her good night.
I would've thought the king would
do that himself.
I'd give a lot to know what
they were talking about.
The woman was on the edge of
tears. She never once looked at me while I was getting her fire started.
Did she say anything to you?
Yes, but it was all in English
so I didn't understand a word. And the king himself looked just beaten when he
entered the cave. He wouldn't have anyone enter.
I feel sorry for him, I really do.
He's not used to hardship.
Come on, do you know how many
campaigns he's been on before?
But sleeping on the bare ground
was just an adventure for him. Now he looks utterly alone. The whole world's
turned against him. He's just trying to still be alive tomorrow. No, he's the
one knight in the world I would not trade places with.
Me neither. I can't imagine
what it's like to have so much and lose it all.
Save some of the pity for ourselves.
We're as hunted as he is. We're brought as low, even if we started close to
here. And at least he has his armor; we face the world with a ragged tunic and a
You shouldn't speak so ill of a
man you've fought so long with.
I love the king as dearly as you do,
but if the king might be sad for himself, permit me too to be sad. I have no
idea where my family is or if they're alive. Do you?
I saw my house burnt down. And
I can't help thinking of my mother, who hoped I would never have to be a
My mother was real sick when I
left home. I think she was starving herself so the rest of us might get through
The crops failed?
Yes. Some thought it was
witchcraft. Others said it was God's wrath for the king's killing of Red Comyn
in a church. The priest said we might win God's grace by fighting in King
Robert's cause. I pray every night that I'll get to go home again.
It's a sad night for all of us
I guess. Try to get some sleep lads or you'll be drowsy during your watch later
(They lay down. All is quiet for a few moments. Bruce dashes on stage
and rouses everyone.)
Wake up! I've got something to tell
you, wake up!
Robert, what is it?
I must tell you what I've seen, I
feel positively inspired. Come on lads, up!
Are we under attack?!
No no, gather everyone, bring those
sleepers here. Listen; as I was laying on my limestone mattress, feeling
completely sorry for myself, wishing I had been strangled at birth, I saw a
spider spinning its web. It was swinging from one rock to another. It couldn't
quite reach the next rock but it kept trying, swinging back and forth to build
up enough momentum to reach its goal. Seven times it tried, and on that seventh
try it made it. I saw this and thought to myself, if a spider can try seven
times just to spin a web, how many times can I try to win a kingdom? Arm
yourselves everyone, we're going out now to find and attack our enemy. Come
lads, the MacDowalls have been hunting for us. Let's make it easy for them!
Shouldn't we wait until
morning? The men are exhausted.
They'll never be expecting us now
They won't be expecting you in
the morning either. And you haven't eaten anything. Rest for a night and hit
them fresh in the morning.
You lads really do need some rest,
don't you. How long would you guess before dawn?
A few more hours.
A few long hours. All right, get a
bit more sleep. We'll hit them right before dawn. Capture their supplies and
you'll have three meals today.
Sire, I think I speak for all
the men when I say I'm glad you've chosen to continue the war.
I'm not continuing the war, I'm
beginning it. Good night lads.
(All wish him good night. Bruce exits. Christian
goes back to sleep. Ian and Donald start to lie down.)
Ian, Donald, haven't you
It's your turn at the watch. No
grumbling, go on.
(Ian and Donald exit grumbling. MacIntyre lies down. Blackout.)
(Somewhere in Carrick. Douglas enters looking about him warily. Edward Bruce
comes up behind him. Douglas turns and sees him.)
I am James Douglas, and you should learn to be
quieter if you're going to be sneaking up on people.
Fortunately I have several men who
are more quiet than me.
(MacIntyre, Ian, and Donald enter.)
What is your
I will be polite and answer you honestly. After
all, I would hate to set a bad example for the men accompanying me. They're
hidden all around with arrows pointed at you.
What do you want?
I have come to join the Bruce in his war against
the English. Are you one of the king's men?
I am Sir Edward Bruce, his
It's an honor to meet you sir. Where's the king?
I am James Douglas, son of Sir
A highly renowned knight. What do
you want from me?
Permission to join your army. I have brought
more men with me, and I'll gladly add them to yours. In fact, I dare to say
they'll become your elite soldiers.
I will be one of your first
Cocky, isn't he.
He should be in familiar company
around here. Sir James, why do you wish to join my cause?
Haven't you heard about my father?
We don't get much news out
He's dead my lord.
I'm truly sorry to hear it.
He died in an English prison. That's no way for
a knight to die. I'm a son seeking revenge for a dead father. Is there a better
cause than that?
It's a good cause sir.
Your Majesty, I humbly request to be allowed to
join your army, and God grant that I may revenge my father and reclaim my
You are welcome here, Sir
Thank you Your Majesty and, if I may, to show
I'm not just a braggart, I have already brought you a prize.
That's fast. What is it?
It's a nephew sire, yours, Sir Thomas Randolph.
(to his men)
Bring him here!
(Two of Douglas's men bring in Randolph.)
Where did you find him?
Fighting with your enemies. He was captured at
Methven and switched sides.
Thomas, ... why have you done
For honor, Uncle. Something you
What do you mean by that?
Skulking in shadows is no way
for a knight to comport himself.
I'll remind you, Sir Thomas, that your uncle is
the king, and you must speak to him with the proper respect on both
You fight for your father;
shouldn't I fight for my family honor? What he does as my uncle, as the head of
the Bruces, and in his proclaimed title of "king" all reflect on me. Have I no
say? Have I any obligation greater than to recover my honor?
Leave him with me. Edward, set up
the camp. Everyone else go with him. I'll be all right.
(All exit except Bruce
You are cold to me Nephew.
(Randolph gives Bruce a hard look.)
Nor, I see, do you appreciate
No charm, no subtlety; how are
you going to punish me?
For joining my enemies? I'm not
inclined to punish you just for changing sides. I've done that myself. You may
have had your reasons, just as I did.
Yes, I do have my reasons.
I think highly of you Thomas, I
always did. Before Methven I thought you would become one of my generals.
Why do you bother flattering
You may not believe this, but I'm
telling you the truth. In fact, I still hope to win you back to my side.
Do you think I could fight like
Like what? You may speak your mind,
not that you've done otherwise.
Knights aren't supposed to hide
and fight in ambushes. Chivalry demands open combat.
This isn't a tournament. We don't
charge our horses and turn around for another charge. You don't get to rearm
yourself when your lance breaks. This is war. It's a war between enemies that
have no respect for each other.
Why should your enemies respect
you when you won't engage in open combat?
Have you forgotten Methven?! I did
agree to open combat, and with a smaller force no less, and my honorable
opponent attacked me at night. That's what brought me to this state.
Then why haven't you fortified a
(Starting to lose his patience.)
With what? With so few men? With no food, no hope of relief? And what would I do
with a castle; it would just be taken from me. I might as well surrender now and
get it over with. In fact, I might as well have myself hanged and quartered so
as to save King Edward the trouble. I'm trying to survive, nephew, and this is
the only way. To fight any way other than this would be suicide.
What's life without honor?
Without honor? Do you know what
happened to your uncles and other knights who have fallen into English hands
since your capture? They have been executed, some in Wallace's manner. Douglas
must have told you his father died in an English prison. Where was the honor in
Is your enemy's dishonor an
excuse for your own?
You exasperate me nephew. No, their
dishonor is not an excuse for mine; their dishonor is the necessity that forces
me to take these tactics. I must content my honor with personal bravery,
persistence, and my treatment of individuals. It is my policy to treat captives
humanely. I've even let them go, though I'm taking a chance that they'll fight
me again. I take care of the rights of my subjects, not that I've had much
opportunity to wrong them; but time will prove me honest or a liar.
These are good words, but as you
say, time will tell.
You'll believe it when you see it;
you're certainly your mother's son.
I didn't think you knew my
Actually we got along quite well,
considering we were siblings. She married when I was just a boy so I didn't see
her often, which probably is why we got along. Thomas, will you stay with us
I don't have a choice, do I?
No. But if you'll promise, on your
honor, to stay with us tonight, I'll leave you unguarded and release you when
you wish. I just ask you to give me a fair chance to show you I'm telling the
That is a generous offer uncle.
I will give you this test.
Good. Go get something to eat.
(Randolph starts to leave, turns and bows, then exits. Douglas enters.)
Are you sure you can trust him sire?
I sure hope so. I'm about to create
him Earl of Moray. Come Douglas, we also need to see about making you master of
(They exit, blackout.)
(Loudon Hill. Pembroke enters with Buchan, Seton, and Umfraville.)
This is our opportunity to
finally finish off Bruce. Let's make the most of it.
Why has he suddenly agreed to an
Who cares. We've been trying to
lure him into the open for a long time; let's just accept our good fortune.
I share Sir Alexander's doubts my
lord. Bruce can't be this stupid.
Why not? He was this stupid at
Methven. Perhaps he thought he could recruit more soldiers. Maybe my public
invitation to fight was more than his honor could refuse. Look, it doesn't
It does matter if he's
planning something. It was foolish to give him control of the ground so long
before the battle.
He said he would fight when and
where I wanted. I chose this spot Sir Ingram, and our scouts say there are only
a few hundred rebels opposing us. We will make short work of them. Assemble the
men for the attack.
(They exit. Bruce enters with Randolph, Edward, and Douglas.)
The English are drawing up their
forces for an attack.
Right where we planned for them.
It's a shame for poor Pembroke he doesn't have the subtlety in war he has in
politics. Advance our spearmen into position by the trenches. Set out the
cavalry and archers to protect our flanks. Remind the spearmen to hold their
positions no matter what happens. We'll break them like waves on rocks.
(They exit. Battle scene. Enter Pembroke.)
Umfraville, what's going on over
We had to slow our charge to get
around the trenches they dug. When we reached them our first ranks fell
So continue the attack!
The men are bunching together, and the
riderless horses are making things worse. We must regroup.
No, press on the attack!
The cavalry can't maneuver! Where are the
Do you want archers to win your
battle for you?
(Entering with Seton)
the cavalry are broken, send in the archers. I don't care how we win a battle,
just send in the archers!
It's too late for that my lords, we
must pull out our troops and retreat to a defensible position.
I'll do as you ask my lords, but
it's you, not me, who has some explaining to do to the king. All right, retreat.
(They exit. Bruce enters with Douglas, Randolph, and Edward.)
Let us go after them brother!
No! If we go on open ground, they
can turn right around and attack again. They still outnumber us greatly.
Send the cavalry to harass their
I'll do that, but no more. Tell the
men to hold their positions. This battle has already done what it was meant to
What do you mean?
We've embarrassed the English. That
will draw more men to our side----maybe even make King Edward drop dead from
(Lanercost abbey. Pembroke, Clifford, Umfraville and other lords are
assembled outside King Edward's quarters.)
All your politicking isn't worth much when
you've been bested in the field.
Your jealousy does not become
you Sir Ingram.
What is there to be jealous of?
Bruce finally agrees to an open battle, and you let him beat you with a much
He had ample time to prepare the
ground to his liking.
You chose it.
I didn't choose the Scots.
They're worthless when it comes time to stop boasting and start fighting. Give
me an English army and I would win. (indicating Clifford) And I wouldn't need
the help of this friend of the Bruce. No wonder the younger Edward distrusts
You encourage the petty jealousy
he feels because I have several times beaten him in tournaments. What makes it
worse is he keeps beating you. No wonder you poison his ears against me.
You want to poison his ears
against me, and persuade him this is all my failure.
You'll avoid blame for this debacle like your
army avoided Bruce's spears, by running away.
There's plenty of blame to go around Umfraville.
(They bow and greet him.)
I'm well aware of what fell
out at Loudon Hill. I am sorely displeased, and I suspect the part of your
conversation I missed would have been quite interesting. I did hear you two
criticizing Sir Aymer, and I can't help remembering that Bruce dodged you for
several months Sir Ingram, and now sits quite comfortably in Turnberry castle.
In fact, he chased you out of Carrick. You, Clifford, were sent fleeing from
Douglas castle by a small band of outlaws. Black Douglas made his name at your
My lord, you weren't there.
Wasn't I? I led a campaign too,
remember? I succeeded in defeating one Bruce, and even the MacDougals have two
Bruce heads for trophies. What have you done?
We don't deserve to be spoken to this
I know I'm not king yet, but
understand, my lords, I am actually being gentle with you out of respect for my
father who lies dying inside.
He may die at any minute, that's
why you were sent for.
(Wales turns and enters Edward's chamber. The rest follow him. Edward is in
bed, attended by a bishop and a servant.)
Gather around my lords, I have a
very short time left.
Father, the campaign against Bruce
has gone very poorly.
My son, your timing is as
atrocious as ever. That's not what I wanted to hear. Forgive me my lords for
leaving you like this, I thought I had one more campaign in me. It looks like
You may yet recover your health
No I won't. I'm leaving my work
unfinished. Edward, I want you to promise you will carry on the war until these
Scottish bastards are broken and begging for mercy. Then deny it to them.
I will father, even if it kills
How much different things might
have been if my wife had lived. I became a hard man when she died.
God have mercy on his soul.
My condolences my lord.
Thank you. Clifford, arrange my
father's funeral. When that is done we'll depart for London.
Yes, London. There are a lot of
ambitious men who will try to take advantage of the passing of the crown. The
war will have to wait.
You just promised to carry on
the campaign against the Scots.
Surely we can't rest while...
Are you going to argue with me with
my father's soul still hovering above us?! Do as I tell you.
Yes, your majesty.
(Bruce enters accompanied by Edward, Randolph, and Douglas. Buchan enters
with Seton, and Umfraville.)
Why have you asked for this
Because I would sooner add your
army to mine than destroy it.
I'm not terribly worried about
You should be. The English army ran
home, the English garrisons don't want to leave their castles, and most Scottish
lords have accepted my mercy. You're the last resistance outside the
Then there's that much more honor
for me in beating you.
Except you're not going to beat me.
I think you know that.
I know you're in for a bit of a
What a bunch of silly chatter.
Let's leave here and get on with it.
Brave words from a man with no
A bit of patience, please
gentlemen. If we fight, a lot of men will be killed, a lot of women will be
widowed, a lot of children orphaned. If we fight, the division in our country
might never be healed.
Who started this war Bruce?
Scotland wears a crown of thorns for the sake of your crown of gold. Scotland
was united under King John.
I fought alongside you for
Scotland's sake, remember? But you can't expect me to accept him as king when my
family had that right. Tell the truth----Balliol was the choice of the king of
England, and look what's happened.
Yes, I see you making war upon
your supposed subjects.
The whole purpose of this meeting
is to prevent that from being necessary. Make peace with me Comyn.
My cause is King John.
King John has abdicated his throne.
It was waiting there to be sat in.
But not by you! The legitimate
king is John's son, Edward.
Who would be an "empty jacket",
like his father.
Seton is right. We're just talking
All right then Comyn, I'll ask you
straight out for your final answer. Will you make peace with me?
With my cousin's murderer? You
must be insane.
It was a fair fight!
You're the only witness.
My sin was fighting with him in a
church, and the church has forgiven me for that!
Your lackeys among the clergy have
forgiven you. The Pope has excommunicated you and placed our country under
That's only to please King Edward.
The Scottish church has held me up before the whole country and said that I have
So let the church forgive you, the
Comyns do not.
He would have been as guilty as me
had he lived! Comyn, I want you on my side; I have come to offer you mercy!
Mercy! It is you who should be
begging for mercy, with your dying breath and a noose around you neck! Do you
really think I have so little honor as to make peace with my cousin's murderer?
Do you think the memory of the Red Comyn means so little? Let your bishops
forgive you, the Comyns will not. Let the Pope forgive you. Let Jesus Christ
himself come down to Earth and pronounce you blessed, and we will still not
forgive you. I will take revenge on you, and if I spend eternity chasing you
through Hell to gain it, I will consider it eternity well spent!
Then consider your worldly
possessions Comyn, because when I have beaten you, I will ravage your lands so
thoroughly that you will never collect a penny of rent from them again, even if
you send the English army to collect it. You'll think old Edward has risen from
And may he haunt you.
(All exit. Battle scene. Bruce enters with Douglas, Randolph, and
I meant what I said. Tell the men
to take everything they can and destroy the rest. Burn every crop, pull down
every house, slaughter all the livestock we can't take with us.
With our enemies beaten here, it's
time to give the English a bellyfull of the same rotten meat.
We should get the English
garrisons out of the country.
We will. And we'll pay for it with
revenues from northern England.
(Edward II's office. Elizabeth is standing in the middle of the room. Edward
is at the door.)
Wait outside. I'll call you when I need you.
(She doesn't reply.)
Welcome Lady Elizabeth.
(She still doesn't reply.)
Or should I call you Lady
Bruce? I'm a soldier, not a courtier; I can never keep these things straight.
Well, why don't you answer?
Were you talking to me, sir?
I'm sorry if I had trouble hearing you, my health isn't what it used to be. That
happens when you've lived in a cage.
You're out of your cage now,
You know, I think I did hear
you, but I didn't think you were talking to me.
Who else is in the room?
I thought you were talking to
some Lady Elizabeth.
Isn't that you?
No sir, I am Queen Elizabeth,
and the proper form of address is "your majesty", though I will settle for "my
No shrewishness please Madame,
I get enough of that from my wife. I hoped a Scot would have simpler
Actually, I'm from Ulster. In
fact sir, I'm the daughter of the Earl of Ulster.
You say that like I'm supposed
to be impressed.
You are, sir. He is a powerful
who knows what his title would
be worth if he rebelled against me. And will you stop calling me "sir".
No, sir, I will not while you
refuse to recognize my royalty.
All right, I will address you
as "my lady", but the title means nothing other than I don't like playing
Very well, my lord.
have you had me brought here, my lord?
You have put me off my purpose
mada...my lady. All right, the reason I sent for you is to offer you a chance
Under what terms?
I want you to convince your
husband to make peace.
What sort of peace?
I will recognize him as king.
In return, he must pay reparations for costs of the war and pay homage to me as
I'd laugh if I could laugh
anymore. Another effect of being in a cage.
God's blood Madame, that was my
father's doing, not mine.
You captured me, and I don't
recall you interceding on my behalf. If you were so concerned for my welfare,
you could have released me before now.
I haven't released you yet. You
should show the humility that goes with being a captive.
What if I say "no"?
Then you'll remain a prisoner.
But think of the good you could do both countries. I would be grateful to you,
and in time so would your husband. I'm sure as fetching a woman as you could
charm him into peace in a short time.
I see you're new at giving
Just give me a straight answer.
Will you do it?
What's to stop me staying with
my husband and remaining free?
You will not be going to your
husband's court. I will find some neutral location and allow him to bring only a
small party while you remain heavily guarded. I expect you to bring back the
treaty with his seal on it. Then I'll give you your final release. If you do
escape, I will eventually defeat your husband and capture you again, and believe
me I can find much harsher conditions for your punishment.
My husband will not agree, and
he would disown me if I brought this to him. Besides, you must be in trouble if
you're even making this offer.
Can't you just believe I prefer
peace? The language of my offer is simple enough.
No. Take me back to my prison.
I need more hardening.
Fine. I'll just find somebody
Guard, take her back.
(blackout as Elizabeth exits.)
(Bruce's office. Bruce is attending to paperwork. There's a knock at the
It's your brother.
Come in. I'll be right with you, I
just want to finish this. I was always slow at math.
(Bruce finishes working and
while talking to Edward he melts wax on the document and places his seal on it.)
Now, what is it?
I have some good news from
You took the castle?
Then what are you doing here?
The castle will soon be ours.
I have arranged a truce with the
Yes, a truce. We've done it
For how long?
Patience brother, as you're always
counseling me, I'm telling you. King Edward must send an army to relieve the
castle within one year's time. If he doesn't, the governor will surrender the
castle to us.
By midsummer's day next year.
You fool! You complete and utter
Don't you have any idea of what
you've done? You've brought a disaster upon us!
I am no fool and this is no
disaster. Edward will not be able to relieve Stirling.
And what makes you so sure?
He won't resolve his problems with
his barons in time to mount another invasion. If he tries, it will be so weak
that it will peter out like the last one.
On the contrary, this is just what
he needs to rally his barons to his side. A lesser castle he might ignore, a
truce of a few months would be too short, but a year? For the most important
castle in Scotland, the castle he has to hold for a successful invasion?
Brother, what you've done is challenged him to single combat in front of the
whole world! He can't ignore that, nor can even his most rebellious barons. They
will have to flock to his side or bear this insult to the whole country. In a
year's time he can raise every levy in England and Wales, he'll have soldiers
from Ireland and his dominions in France, plus every freelance knight in
You overstate things.
Overstate! How are we supposed to
repel an army like that? We'll be hiding in the hills again. We're betting this
whole war, the whole kingdom, on one roll of the dice!
Good, let's have one open battle
and decide the matter. I have no patience for sieges and ambushes.
So I've noticed.
One roll of the dice suits me
But his dice have higher numbers
(The Scottish spearmen are being trained to fight in a ring formation called
a schiltron. MacIntyre, Ian, Donald, and other soldiers enter marching in
Squad halt. Most of you men are
new at this, so I want you to pay close attention. When the English come, the
training stops, regardless of how far along you are. Now, this is going to be a
different sort of fighting from anything you've done before...
Sergeant, why am I here? I've been
doing this for years.
You know what else you've been
doing for years? You've been slow to get up in the morning, straggling during
marches, showing up late for watches, and you were even born late I'll warrant!
Of more immediate importance, you were caught drinking during your watch last
night! That's why you get to do some extra marching today.
Why am I here?
Because anything he was doing,
you must have been doing it too! Now, the first rule is never break your ranks,
no matter what happens. Your lives and the lives of the men next to you depend
upon you staying right where you are. I don't care how thick the arrows are or
how many knights come charging at you; if you don't hold your lines you are
dead. If you run away, the enemy cavalry will hunt you down. If your enemy runs
and you go after him, all he has to do is turn around, and all of a sudden
there's you with your little spear against an archer that's flinging arrows at
you, or maybe you're facing an armored knight on his horse, which can seem
awe-inspiringly big right at that moment. In short, you can't fight a man on a
horse when you're on foot. I also guarantee you'll never catch an archer, leave
him for our cavalry to cut down. What you can do is stay in your formation.
Horses hate running onto spears and will usually turn back. You block the paths
of advancing units and provide shelter for our own cavalry and archers.
Why can't they bring their own tents?
Ian, step forward please. Face
the other men. Now, please demonstrate how we prepare to meet a cavalry charge.
(Ian takes one step forward with his left foot, turns his right foot
sideways, places the butt of his spear in his right instep, leans forward,
places his left elbow on his left knee and holds the spear at an angle to spear
a horse in the chest.)
I want all you men to observe
this. The spear is aimed at the horse, not the rider. When a horse runs onto the
spear, that will be enough to throw the rider, who will then be easily killed.
That spear gets heavy after a while, doesn't it Ian?
We usually go into this
position only when the enemy charges because you can't hold this position a long
time. Isn't that true, Ian?
Would you like to get up?
Thank you sergeant.
Not yet. I want all you men to
study his position. Take a good, long look.
(All look at Ian, whose arm is
starting to shake.)
All right, fall back into line.
(Ian does so.)
All of you,
prepare to receive cavalry.
(They assume Ian's former position.)
right for a first time, you'll have to get much faster at it. Stand up. We'll
try it again. Prepare to receive cavalry.
(Randolph and Douglas enter.)
Yes my lord. (to soldiers) Stand up.
How goes the training?
These men are raw my lord, but
I think they'll work out.
Time is shorter than we thought.
The king wants us to clear the English out of the southern castles before the
They'll be ready my lord.
Good. Where are they now?
They're learning to receive
Sir Thomas, if I may...let me see them do
Yes my lord. Prepare to receive
(Douglas draws his sword and moves a short distance away.)
Stand. Prepare to receive
(Douglas yells and charges the line. Soldiers scatter and Douglas goes
That was slow! When your enemies are ready to
charge they're not going to wait for you, and you might not have anymore time
than that. And for the love of God the last thing you do is move aside! Stand
your ground and get your spears in place in time and no one will dare do what I
Forgive my presumption Sir Thomas, I've always found
that to be effective when training my own men.
Not at all Sir James. Carry on
(Randolph and Douglas exit.)
Yes my lord. Prepare to receive
(blackout as training continues.)
(Enter King Edward, Pembroke, Clifford, Seton and Umfraville.)
Our first need sire is to water
Our soldiers are desperate for
rest Sir Robert.
We're in urgent need of both,
but the dawn comes very early this time of year.
The Bannock Burn is the only
source for water. I've already instructed my men to lay planks across the
marshes so our horses can get to it.
We'll have to do that for all
the horses and oxen.
You're right. Have the soldiers
start on this project at once. Sir Alexander, I want Bruce's position scouted.
See if we can attack him from the rear. As for the rest of us, we might as well
keep our armor on.
(Lights fade on King Edward et al and rise on Bruce, Douglas, Randolph, and
Such a clear sky my lords, the sun
is starting to feel hot already. Douglas, what did your scouts report? Is King
Edward ready to attack today?
No your majesty, he still has
baggage arriving. In fact, they had never seen such a huge train.
Their army seems quite
I think they're only arranging
their divisions. They may do some skirmishing, I expect that's all.
I thought I ordered pits to be
They were, deep enough to trip a
The men hid them well, I can't find
Try riding over them.
I'll take your word for it. Nephew,
I believe a rose has fallen from your chaplet.
What do you mean?
The road your division is supposed
to be watching currently contains a troop of English cavalry trying to reach the
(He dashes off, the
rest chuckle as lights fade. Lights come back up as the Scottish soldiers march
on with their spears.)
Don't dawdle, this isn't a
Halt the men here sergeant.
You're about to get your first
test lads, make them regret they ever crossed the border. Form circle! Here they
come lads. First rank, prepare to receive cavalry! Second rank, stand at the
charge! If any riders fall, skewer them!
(First rank place their spears as before. Second rank point their spears
straight ahead. Lights focus tightly on Randolph and spearmen. Lights come up on
another part of the stage to show Edward II, Umfraville, Seton, and
Your majesty, come quickly,
Clifford's cavalry is about to smash into a Scottish schiltron.
He should go through them
without a lot of trouble.
(Lights come up on a third area to reveal Bruce, Douglas, and Edward.)
Now we'll see how well the
(We hear yells and screams. We occasionally see spearmen lunging at
They held off the first charge.
Don't break off the attack!
Clifford's just regrouping his
men for another charge.
He shouldn't need another
Sire, let me go to Randolph's aid.
This might be just a feint before a
real attack. We're too heavily outnumbered to commit anymore men. He'll have to
They're charging again!
They've done their worst lads,
hold your ranks!
(They fend off another charge.)
Please sire, let me go to his aid.
No! He's still holding his own. We
can't risk a bigger engagement yet.
I have to admit, Bruce prepared
What's he doing now?
They're circling around the
schiltron looking for weak spots.
They must be getting exhausted by
now, standing in that heat and dust.
My lord I beg you, let me go to
All right. Go ahead.
Steady lads, they're as tired as
What was that? A mace?
They're throwing their weapons
at us my lord.
They're frustrated. We'll
collect all the booty we want just standing still!
They're breaking off the
attack! Look, they're in complete disorder.
Our nephew has won, Edward.
A lot of arrogance just got
(entering) With your permission sire, I'll let
Randolph finish them. If I go in I'll just steal the glory.
(lights fade on
Bruce, Douglas, Edward.)
All right lads, now we have a
surprise in store for them. Remember, stay in your ranks. Advance!
charge their spears and advance out of the light.)
Look at that, cavalry are being
charged by infantry!
Clifford may never live this
Stifle yourself. Or at least
insult him to his face. No, don't; I'm in no mood to listen to your bickering.
(He exits, Seton, Pembroke and Umfraville follow. Randolph, Edward, and
Thank you uncle.
I have to admit Thomas, after
this display you are my equal. Almost.
Where's the king?
Over there, inspecting our
He has something else to worry
They're sending another troop of
One knight just dashed ahead of the rest.
Perhaps the idiot is thinking he's
going to challenge the king to single combat.
That is what he thinks, he's lowering his lance
Your majesty, behind you!
Robert, get behind the lines!
What's he doing? He's facing him!
Robert, get behind the lines! You
can't fight on that pony! Robert!
Your majesty! God save him, he's
armed with only an ax. Uncle!
(Shouting is heard from all sides. Suddenly there is silence.)
He killed him. He dodged the
lance and cleaved his head in two.
(Shouts from offstage of "Bruce,Bruce". The shouts die down as Bruce enters.
His ax handle is broken. Edward, Douglas, and Randolph speak at once.)
Brother, what did you think you
were doing?! As often as you've admonished me for a lack of caution...
He's right. What would have
happened if you were killed so foolishly, the army might have
You were very lucky uncle, you
have no right to jeopardize yourself like that...
Lords...(he quiets them and holds
up his ax. The handle is cracked.)
I fear I have broken my ax.
(Douglas, Randolph, and Edward look at each other in disbelief. Exuberant
shouts are heard from Bruce's soldiers offstage as the lights fade out.)
(The English camp. Edward II is studying a map and discussing strategy with
Clifford, Seton, Umfraville, and Pembroke. They are exhausted and
What if we go this way?
That's all marsh. The horses
will never get through it.
How about these woods?
The cavalry will be too
vulnerable to ambushes.
Use the archers to hold the
woods, that's what they're here for.
No, we need them for the main attack.
Quite so; it's unwise to send
cavalry out without archers to weaken the schiltrons.
What's that supposed to
It means I'm tired of having to
be polite to you.
Don't try to dishonor me unless
you're ready to defend yourself.
I've just been looking for the
Lords, try to remember who the
Tell that to Pembroke's Welsh
levies that are on the edge of mutiny.
That's a lie!
The whole army knows that's
You squabble like a bunch of
old hags who are sick of life! If you argue like this amongst yourselves
tonight, what does this bode for tomorrow?
Sire, I urge you again to take
the advice of the castle governor.
What advice was that?
He advised the king to turn
He can't be serious.
As he pointed out, quite
correctly, we have advanced far enough to fulfill the terms of the truce. Bruce
must now break off the siege. We should resupply the garrison and be on our
What he recommends is complete
Look at the state of our army
Seton, our men and animals are desperate for rest. Our supplies are thin, and
this day's events have left the men completely demoralized. And I would hope,
Sir Alexander, that you have observed how carefully Bruce has chosen and
prepared his ground. The circumstances are all wrong for a fight.
I assure you Sir Alexander that
I will not turn back under any circumstances.
However, maybe we should
reconsider whether tomorrow is the day to fight. Perhaps we should seek another
Sire, we can't turn back now. Think
of the dishonor, the damage to our reputations! The foreign knights will dismiss
this campaign as a fiasco and leave, soldiers will be deserting left and right.
We can't let today's events discourage us.
If you were English, you would
realize there is more than our personal honors to be concerned with.
I sense no resolve here at all.
Leave me alone to think. Go
do...I don't care, just go.
(They leave Edward alone as lights fade.)
(The Scottish camp. Present are Bruce, Edward, Douglas, and Randolph.)
We have to fight tomorrow. The men will never be
in higher spirits than they are right now.
A devastating loss will change
Come on Randolph, you were in the thick of it,
you know how ready they are to fight.
I agree with you, they are ready
to fight, but consider how outnumbered we are. Maybe we can wait until the
English are weakened further by hardship and desertion.
We can grow weaker too. Meanwhile,
we are on ground which we have picked and know much better than our enemy.
Edward doesn't know all the pitfalls that wait for him.
My own inclination is to wait until
our numbers are more equal.
You realize that means leaving Stirling in
Not if we force Edward to go
But he'll come back nonetheless,
and with a safe base here, it will be easy for him to go anywhere in Scotland.
Our country will be cut in half.
Douglas, what did your scouts
I admit their report isn't encouraging. They
said the English forces stretched for miles along the road leading here. The
army was so large they couldn't count it all. They estimated their numbers to be
about four times ours.
With a large number of knights?
Yes, but also with a lot of baggage.
To be sure, I don't want the men to
know how badly we're outnumbered. Let them think the odds are better. It also
occurs to me that Edward will choose to attack tomorrow, and I would rather not
let him catch us in a less defensible position. We will plan to fight tomorrow
but it will be a defensive fight. If Edward chooses not to give battle, I'm
quite willing to let him leave.
I have come here voluntarily!
We'll see about that. Keep your
hands on your head.
(MacIntyre and Seton enter.)
Your majesty, we caught this man prowling around our camp.
So Seton, you've been reduced to a
I was not scouting. I came to see
You may leave him here sergeant.
Please put your hands down. Last I recall, you were a staunch
ally of the Comyns.
I was, and I fought with King
Edward, but now I wish to come into your peace.
Why the sudden change of heart?
The English are in a complete
panic. In the face of adversity they are showing cowardice. They're actually
considering going back to England. Their camps are filled with disorder and
rumors of mutinies. King Edward and his commanders are showing no sense of
honor. I'm here because I fear being dishonored with them.
You've come to join the winning
Sir Edward, you're much too badly
outnumbered for anyone to think you the winning side.
You bring good news Sir Alexander.
If The English want to leave, we may be spared battle tomorrow.
No my lord, you must attack
tomorrow. They are ready to cave in. Those cowards tremble in fear of you
already. Just the sight of your army in array will panic half of them. If you
fight tomorrow you will win. I guarantee it.
What good are your guarantees if
you're wrong...or lying?
Take my head my lord, cut it off if
your attack fails tomorrow. The English are ready to collapse!
He's an honorable man sire; I say we take him at
He's right brother, we must attack
All right then, tomorrow we attack.
Be mindful Seton, any treachery on your part and I won't wait until after the
battle to sever your head. Look carefully my lords, here is the plan for the
morning. We'll lure them into the areas we already have prepared. Randolph's
division here, Edward's here, Douglas's here, and my own on the right.
We should place the cavalry here
to protect our flanks from archers.
Right. I'm putting the baggage and
the newly arrived Highlanders out of the way. There hasn't been time to train
If we confine the English in this
area, they won't be able to bring their full force against us. We might be able
to trap them against the burn when the tide comes in.
Exactly. We're going to try to
bottle them up in this area. Also fly every banner we have, we want to look as
large as possible.
When do we hold mass?
Get all units assembled on the
field first. I want the church's blessing to be as public as possible. To be
sure, I want the English to see it, it may dishearten them more. We'll have mass
right before dawn.
Will you address the men before the battle?
I've already been working on one,
just in case. I'll finish when we're done. Lords, the dawn comes early this time
of year. Go to your own tents and get everything prepared. May God have mercy on
(All exit save Bruce. He reads his address.)
Men of Scotland; the events of
yesterday have shown that God is on our side, and will send his blessings to
those who fight in a righteous cause. It is true our foes greatly outnumber us,
but what do they have to fight with? They have armor and warhorses, levies from
several countries and knights from all over Europe. But we have faith and
courage, and the knowledge we fight for our homes and our liberty. Let there be
no doubts in our hearts that we fight in a cause as holy as any crusade to free
Jerusalem. Today is the birthday of John the Baptist, and as we go into battle,
he and St.Andrew and the other saints of Scotland will be alongside us.
I ask you now to show the courage your fathers did when they fought alongside
Wallace a short distance from here at Stirling bridge. Remember your homes that
have been destroyed and your kinsmen who have been killed. Our foe comes to
bring more destruction and a new slavery upon us, therefore look for no mercy if
we are beaten. Remember my brothers who were cruelly executed, our clergy
languishing in English prisons, the blood that has been spilled by families of
all classes. Remember the bravery of our martyrs, and let this strengthen your
courage. Show the English you know what honor is. Let those who still tremble
with fear feel free to leave. I want no cowards here, nor any who doubt my
cause. Men of Scotland, will you suffer the shame of slavery, or will you fight
beside your king?
(Drums beat. Offstage there are sounds of soldiers assembling, sergeants
yelling orders, etc. The lights come up as Edward II and Umfraville enter.)
No Sir Ingram, I am determined
Delay the battle one more day,
the men need the time to rest.
They can rest when they've
Then at least make a false retreat and lure
Bruce onto better ground.
You fool, I've already won.
Look, the Scots kneel, begging me for mercy.
It's not you they beg mercy
from. War is a better missionary than a priest.
(momentarily flustered) I
refuse to believe a bunch of peasants can stand against the finest collection of
knights Christendom has seen since the last crusade. We go forward and that's
(to himself) May God save some of that mercy
(UMFRAVILLE exits. Scottish soldiers enter and form their line. Randolph enters.)
You know something Donald?
I've been through this several times
before, but I find myself feeling nervous.
Me too. I'm glad I took a piss
right before we fell in.
Look, Donald, this broach I'm
wearing----I got it from my father. It's the only fancy thing I own. I want you
to have it if I die.
At least don't let some foreign
invader take it off my corpse.
In a few hours we're each going to
have our own coat of mail, and a broadsword to go with it. Here they come!
Charge your spears! Advance!
(Battle scene. Noise continues throughout the scene. Douglas enters.)
The pits have stopped their charge. Push them
back lads, push them against the burn!
Steady lads, fill the
gaps, they're giving way.
(King Edward enters with Pembroke and Clifford.)
Pembroke, where are those
Between the Scots' cavalry and
the bogs the only way they can reach the Scots is by shooting over our own
Then do it.
I've been trying, but the
cavalry broke and ran through the archers and forced them back, they're out of
Bring up the infantry!
They're backed up behind the
cavalry. The ground is too narrow and the burn is too deep in most places. They
have to fall back to give the cavalry a chance to regroup.
If we fall back we'll be
routed. Keep pressing the attack.
(they exit, Bruce enters)
They're starting to panic, bring up
the Highlanders. Fly every rag that looks like a banner. If they think we have
another division they'll give up and run!
(More fighting, Bruce exits. Edward II enters with Clifford and
We have to rally them, come
It's too late for that, we've
lost; you must get to safety.
No, not while I'm still able to
wield this sword!
Sire, the infantry have
scattered in all directions. You must leave! Pembroke, take whoever you have
left and get him away from here. I'll try to hold off the Scots a while
We're going to try to reach the
(They lead Edward II offstage. Bruce enters with Edward, Douglas, Randolph,
Robert, it's a rout. The burn is
so thick with drowned men and horses you can walk across without getting
The flower of English chivalry
have their petals strewn all over the ground.
Pursue the surviving knights,
they'll bring a heavy ransom.
We should attack the castle.
No, that's where they'll rally, and
they still outnumber us even with this slaughter. The castle will surrender in
short order anyway.
Let me go hunting for King
He'll be too well protected.
It's still worth taking a chance. If we capture
him you can dictate peace terms.
You're right, go.
(They exit, battle dies down, the stage is quiet. Edward II enters with
What, won't the governor let me
He will if you desire it, but he
reminds your majesty that he is obligated to surrender the castle under the
terms of truce.
He intends to keep his
agreement. He says you may have refuge, but you will surely be captured if you
stay. He advises you to get back to England, and so do I.
Dead. How did things come to
(A church near the battlefield. Bruce is holding vigil by a corpse. There are
the sounds of music and celebrating offstage. Edward enters and kneels before
the altar, not seeing Bruce.)
Edward, what are you doing here?
Why aren't you joining in the celebrations?
I can ask the same of you. Why are
This corpse was Sir Robert
Clifford. I think you had only met him, but he and I were good friends. I still
mourn for him, even though he fought against us today. I'm holding a vigil here
tonight to honor him.
No Robert, I didn't know him well,
but I knew he was a good man. I'm heartily sorry for it.
You still haven't told me why
We lost very few today, but one we
lost was Sir Walter of Ross. He was the best friend I had in this world. So help
me Robert, I would rather have lost the battle, my earldom, everything, than
lose Sir Walter! Brother, what's wrong with us? We've just destroyed an invading
army. Men will talk of us as the greatest knights in Christendom. By God Robert,
today Scotland became a nation! Why are we fighting back tears?
It occurs to me, we've never had
time to grieve before. Let's do that now Edward; let's grieve for our friends,
and kinsmen, and our brothers who were butchered. Let's grieve the people who
suffered in our cause. I think the most important thing we won today is the time
to grieve what we lost. It's just us brother, we can weep if we care to.
(They hold each other. Light shifts to Donald and Ian. Ian was killed in the
Like I predicted Ian, I have a
nice collection of weapons now, and we must have the best equipped peasants in
history. I kept my promise, no one took your broach.
(He takes the broach off
I'm going to give it to your son when I tell him he's an orphan. I'll tell
him what a great man his father was. God in Heaven Ian, killed by some foreign
knight who just wanted to slaughter a bunch of peasants and cover himself in
chivalry when he got home. I hope he drowned in the burn. I hope he died
painfully wounded, held face down in the mud by the weight of other such knights
dying on top of him.
(Bruce's office. Bruce and Edward are arguing.)
Haven't I been fighting as long as
Yes, of course you have.
And haven't I undergone all your
privations, taken as many risks, won as much honor in battle as you?
I know all this...
I have been by your side every
moment since you escaped from England.
What are getting at? Didn't I give
you my Earldom of Carrick? I made you one of my top generals.
One of your top generals, how
What more do you want?
How about my own kingdom? My blood
is as royal as yours.
The parliament recognized you as my
heir, isn't that good enough?
And if I die first, what did I
Will you stop playing catch-up.
As long as I can remember you've
been jealous, wanting anything I had, having to do everything I did...
You're going to dredge up
everything since childhood?
It's only gotten worse as the years
have passed. It's an accident of birth that I'm older and I got to be our
father's heir and inherit all the titles. Every family is in that situation.
But we're royalty and that's
different. You keep talking about "your" cause. By God, it's ours!
What do you want now, a piece of
I think half should be about
Of course I'm serious.
The kingdom is not divisible.
Certainly it is. You can give me
the southern half and let me fight the English. Or you can keep the ports and
give me the highlands.
How about Ireland?
What do you mean?
How would you like Ireland? Would
that be enough?
Is it yours to give?
Actually it is.
I have here a letter from the
chieftain of the O'Neills of Ulster. He offers to give to you his hereditary
claim to be High King of Ireland. I don't know that the title's meant anything
since Brian Boru, but he's willing to give you that chance.
What prompts him to this?
He hopes one Bruce can do for
Ireland what another did for Scotland and chase out the English. I don't know if
you can do it, but at least you should be a great distraction for the king of
England. Enough trouble in Ireland and maybe he'll leave us be.
This wasn't your idea?
I didn't think of making you king,
but I did go fishing and send this bait. It's a letter to the Irish kings,
bishops and so on reminding them of our common language and culture, suggesting
an alliance to help them recover their own independence...well, here, you can
read it yourself. Apparently, some decided they wanted a Bruce of their own.
Well, there it is brother, your own kingdom, provided you're able to win it. It
won't be just handed to you, you'll have to fight another war for it.
Fine, I'd rather have it that way.
Why didn't you just tell me about this when I walked in?
Because you blundered in here and
started arguing with me, and I let you draw me into it and get me angry. I'll
give you Randolph and an army. You'll land near Carrickfergus and meet your
allies there. I'll bring reinforcements when and if I can.
Edward Bruce, High King of
Ireland. I apologize for my earlier tone. I behaved like an ass.
I'll concede you that point.
Forgive me Robert.
I forgive you, your majesty.
Thank you, your majesty.
(The Scottish lords are assembled in parliament at Arbroath. Lamberton is
reading the final draft of a letter to the Pope. While he does this, MacIntyre
whispers to Bruce who then goes to another part of the stage where he meets the
My lords, come to order please,
we are ready for the final reading of the letter to the Pope.
nobles and prelates of Scotland, assembled in parliament at Arbroath this day,
April 6, 1320, send greetings to His Holiness Pope John XXII. Our nation lived
in freedom and quietness until Edward, King of England, under color of
friendship and alliance, attacked us, all unsuspecting, when we had neither King
nor Head and our people were unacquainted with wars and invasions.
Greetings your grace. Has his
holiness seen fit to lift my excommunication?
Sir Robert, his holiness sends this letter to
I can't read someone else's
This is your letter my lord.
This letter is addressed only to
"Robert Bruce". There are several men in this kingdom with that name. I can't
open a letter that might be for one of them.
I assure you this is for you.
Have you broken the seal?
Of course not.
Then how do you know it's for
If I may be so bold, Sir Robert, I will change the
address to read "Robert Bruce, acting as King of Scots".
I'm not acting as king, I am king.
Sorry, I still can't accept that letter.
(lights switch back to the parliament.)
At length it pleased God who
alone can heal after wounds to restore us to liberty by our most serene prince,
King and Lord, Robert, who for the delivering of his people and his own rightful
inheritance from the enemy's hand did most cheerfully undergo all manner of
toil, fatigue, hardship and hazard. The Divine providence, the right of
succession by the laws and customs of the Kingdom, and the due and lawful
consent and assent of all the people made him our King and prince. But, after
all, if this prince shall leave these principles he has so nobly pursued and
consent that we of our Kingdom be subjected to the King or people of England, we
will immediately endeavor to expel him as our enemy and as the subverter both of
his own and our rights and will make another King who will defend our liberties:
for so long as there shall be but one hundred of us remain alive we will never
give consent to subject ourselves to the dominion of the English. For it is not
glory, it is not riches, neither is it honor, but it is freedom alone that we
fight and contend for, which no honest man will lose but with his life.
(lights switch back to Bruce and the envoy.)
The safest course for you is to accept this
I will not do so until it is
addressed to the King of Scotland.
Sir Robert, it is not seemly to refuse a letter
from the Pope and leave his representative waiting. You will make him angry.
And what will he do, excommunicate
me? He's done that already. He's placed my kingdom under interdict, released my
subjects from their loyalty to me, and encouraged my enemy. Perhaps you should
tell him that I, too, am angry. If he wants my cooperation, he must recognize my
title and tell the English to leave us in peace.
That would anger King Edward. Now, if you had to
choose between angering little Scotland or powerful England, which would you
I would do what is right. Isn't
teaching right and wrong exactly what the church is for?
You know the Pope is anxious for another crusade.
England's participation is necessary, and the war with you is holding that
Tell his holiness that I have no
greater desire than to take part in a crusade, but I can't do so with my kingdom
under constant attack by a big neighbor. And before you dismiss little Scotland,
I should tell you that Edward's last invasion barely got across the border,
while my army raids northern England at will.
And just what would you have me do with this
Take it back and say the person to
whom it is addressed does not exist, or can't be determined. Please yourself.
Just tell him what I require.
(Bruce stalks out as lights switch back to the
It is time, my lords and
bishops, to affix our seals to the letter. Bring out the wax.
(Lights fade as
they affix their seals to the letter.)
(Bruce's office. Umfraville is heard outside.)
I don't need to make an appointment! Get out
of my way!
Why this rude interruption, Sir
Ruder things have been done lately my
What do you want? I'm busy.
More writs of execution?
What do you want?
You have executed a good friend of mine.
David Brechin? The parliament
condemned him to death.
The parliament. Couldn't you have heard his
I did. He conspired to assassinate
The great Bruce, so well renowned for his
mercy, has killed the flower of chivalry.
This flower had some thorns. He
broke his oath to me at least twice.
He wasn't involved in the con...
He knew and didn't tell me! That's
enough. He deserved it.
Who are you, Good King Robert or old King
Edward? I can't tell anymore.
So go run back to the new King
I have done good service in the parliament!
But I won't stay here and endure this!
And what do you have to endure? I
have permitted former enemies to come home and even keep their lands. I have
endured hardships and privations. I have chased every last English garrison out
of the country. Our people are secure for the first time in over thirty years.
Why would anyone try to kill me? How can there be anyone still so bitter as to
kill me by stealth? God's blood, will Comyn's followers hunt me to my grave!? My
patience has run out! Leave if it pleases you.
(Umfraville starts to exit.)
Umfraville, you can stay for your friend's funeral.
(Randolph enters as Umfraville exits.)
Your majesty, the Queen is
asking for you.
(Lights fall on Bruce's office and rise on
Elizabeth, who is lying in bed. She is near death.)
(to servants, while still outside)
Leave us be.
(Bruce enters and looks at Elizabeth but can't manage to say anything.)
Do you want to sit up?
No, I'm too weak.
Dear God. I should go get the
(He tries to leave.)
No, just stay here a bit. I'm
not sure I want their last memory of me to be this. They won't remember me at
all Robert, they're so young!
I won't let them forget you.
My only son only an infant, and
I've never been able to nurse him myself.
I know, I know. Just try to
(trying to put herself in a
But I did give you a male heir.
That you did.
And I think I must have been
the oldest mother since John the Baptist was born. The birth alone grayed
whatever dark hairs I had left.
Nonsense. You're as pretty as the
day I married you.
And you have the same charming,
mischievous tongue you had the day I married you. Good thing our fathers
(They try to laugh, but the best either can do is a quick chuckle which dies
What else is it troubles
Don't worry yourself.
My dying wife.
There's more. You can't keep
anything from me.
In battle. As he wanted.
Elizabeth, do you think I've turned into a bitter old man?
I just wonder if I'm becoming cruel
as I get older. Ever since the conspirators were sentenced...
What else could you have done?
They wanted to kill you. Mercy has limits.
I'm wondering if I'm becoming like
the old king Edward we ran from.
Have you captured any towns and
ordered all the inhabitants slaughtered?
Of course not!
Then I don't think you have
anything to worry about. Just sit awhile with me Robert.
(They sit silently.
(York. Bruce, Lamberton and Randolph enter. Bruce has a coughing fit.)
Uncle, I told you that you
should have stayed in bed today.
Nonsense, my health is much better.
This is just a cold or something. But to tell truth, I think this is my last
Age catches up to all of
My grandfather lived into his
eighties. Do you know anything about this young English king?
He was just a little boy when I
was there. From what I hear he hasn't matured with age.
With a mother like Queen Isabella
that's no surprise. I would have given a lot to have seen mother and son sent
scampering during Douglas's raid.
I can't believe she could do
that to her own husband.
I think he died of natural
Of course, that assumes a lot of
Englishmen have hot pokers up their rumps.
(They laugh like they've heard a nasty joke that is best kept secret. They
quiet down as Pembroke enters with Edward III.)
Greetings to you Sir Robert, Sir
Thomas, your grace.
Your greeting says everything Sir
Aymer. You still refuse to recognize me as king.
The regents are not yet ready to
concede that part of your offer. We do however agree to the second and the sixth
points. The other points will have to be negotiated another time.
You agree that my son will marry
your king's sister, and that I will pay you £20,000. This is an insult my lord.
First you broke the truce I had with the boy's father, then after your mighty
army got spanked by a glorified foraging party, you fled here at the mere word
that I was coming.
(He hurls down the document.)
The first point calls for
recognition of my claim to the throne. If you don't grant that we have nothing
to talk about.
Mind your tone. I am
Scotland's overlord, and I expect you to address my ministers with the proper
So you'll assert that, will
Like my father and my
grandfather. I will be the next Hammer of the Scots.
Pembroke, can't you keep your whelp
under control? His leash needs tightening.
Sir Robert, I'm sure that...
Listen boy, and listen carefully.
At my age I don't have to tolerate bad manners from anybody. You must learn that
even a king can't always speak out of turn. Even a king has to learn to show
respect. He also has to earn it. As for you, I have come to offer you peace.
Your father was either too proud or too stupid to accept earlier offers and
better terms, and it may be you that suffers for it, because I am ready right
now to seize a portion of your kingdom. Where you're sitting could end up being
the border. When you learn not to speak to your elders with such rudeness you
may find you get farther in life. You may get so far that you have the luxury of
lecturing kings. For now, I expect you to keep silent.
With respect Sir Robert, if your
position is so strong why are you offering us money?
Because it's the custom, and I have
learned to value tradition. I'm also offering you a way to save face. Don't
worry about me finding the money----Douglas is running around Northumbria
You're stealing it from English
You should have thought of that
before going to war. What is your answer Sir Aymer, will you accept my terms for
Yes, your majesty.
We're stuck, your majesty.
(Bruce's bedchamber at Cardross. Bruce is dying. The Scottish lords and
prelates are gathered. Lamberton is administering last rites.)
My pilgrimages these last months
have done me no good; my health has only grown worse. In a way this is a relief
my lords. I've been lonely these last few years since Elizabeth died. I had
hoped we might grow old together in a country at peace, but God has decided
otherwise. I regret leaving behind three small children who never knew their
mother and hardly know their father.
Your children will never cease
to hear about you my lord. From the stories they hear they will know you to be
the greatest king in history.
I hope they have the good sense to
see through some exaggeration.
Forgive me, the physicians can't
do anything for the pain anymore. I think this is God's punishment for my
I assure you Sire you have been
absolved of everything.
Have I? Was I right to go to war to
win a crown? Will all the widows and orphans forgive me? I fear there's a lot of
blood on my hands.
You mustn't think that uncle.
Already people of every rank are weeping at your death. You must believe you
When I first committed the sin of
killing Red Comyn in a church, I promised God that if he would forgive me and
grant me victory, I would lead a crusade to free the Holy Land. God did not see
fit to grant me the health to keep my promise. Douglas, I have a last request of
you. Since my body can't do what my heart wills, I want you to cut out my heart
and carry it into battle against the Saracens. When you reach the Holy Land,
bury it in Jerusalem, then I may yet fulfill my promise. Can you do this for
Even if it means my life.
Thank you James. My lords, I ask
you all to swear loyalty to my son David, and should he die without issue give
your loyalty to my grandson Robert Stewart. Do you so swear?
(They all respond
in the affirmative.)
During my son's minority, it is my will that Randolph serve
as regent. Is this agreeable to you?
(All answer that it is.)
Nephew, will you
do this for me?
Good. Sirs, there is nothing left
for me now except to face death without fear, as all men must. I thank God for
giving me time to repent of all the deaths I've caused, and I accept my pain as
penance. I thank God for these few months of peace our country has had and I
pray it may continue.
(He dies. Lamberton feels for his breath.)
The king is dead. May God have
mercy on his soul.
My lords, I fear we have broken
(Lights fade on Bruce's bedchamber and rise on Edward III, who is reading a
I, Edward, the third of that
name, King of England, France, and Ireland, Overlord of Scotland, do issue this
proclamation. The treaty signed between myself and Robert de Brus of Scotland
was signed when I was underage to rule in my own right. Now that I have reached
my majority the aforesaid treaty is invalid. I hereby recognize Edward Balliol,
son of King John of Scotland, as the rightful heir to the Scottish throne and
will help him to his throne with all means in my power.
(He rolls up the
The war is on again.
(Lights fade on Edward III. End of play.)
Go back to plays.
Go to The Declaration of Arbroath.
Go to How Accurate was "Braveheart".
Go back to home.