Marjory Bruce, Princess of Scotland, was the
only child of the 1st marriage of Robert I, The Bruce. She was born probably in December
1296, the same eventful month that Edward I of England, the self-styled 'Hammer of the
Scots', invaded Scotland and laid siege to Berwick.
At the end of June 1306 the 9-year-old princess, together with her step mother and other
women-folk of The Bruce's family, were sent for safety to Kildrummy Castle
(Aberdeenshire), escorted by Nigel Bruce and the Earl of Atholl. It was intended that they
would then take refuge in Orkney until times were easier, but the English army was already
at Aberdeen and the royal ladies moved on to Tain, north of Inverness, still hoping for a
boat. Here they were captured in the sanctuary of St. Duthac and sent to Edward of
England, then at Lanercost Priory in Cumberland. They were separated from each other and
Marjorie was sent to a convent, where she remained until her release 8 years later.
She was not yet eighteen at the time of the battle of Bannockburn, 24 June 1314. One of
the heroes of that great victory over the English was her second cousin once removed,
Walter Stewart, 6th Lord High Steward, some four years her senior, whom she married in the
following year. It was from that Stewart cousinship that the typically Stewart name of
Marjorie first came into the family of Bruce, Robert the Bruce's mother and maternal
grandmother both bearing that name. This last-named Marjorie had been the second of the
three daughters of Walter, 3rd High Steward.
Part of the wedding dowry which Marjorie Bruce brought to her husband was the castle and
Barony of Bathgate in Midlothian, which it was intended would become their private family
residence; but this was not to be.
Whether through rashness, fearlessness or ignorance of the possible consequences, Princess
Marjorie went out riding near Paisley while heavily pregnant. Her horse, taking fright at
something, reared up, Marjorie was thrown violently to the ground and immediately went
into premature labour. Her only child, the future Robert II, was delivered at the roadside
by Caesarean section (the first authentic record of such an operation being performed
since the birth of the eponymous Julius Caesar). The beautiful Marjorie died within a few
hours, aged only about 19 years and 3 months, on 2 March 1316. Her last words are reported
to have been 'He's a laddie; I ken he's a laddie; he will be king'. Her improbable dying
prophecy eventually came true, but not for another fifty-five years.
Picture: The eighteen-year-old Marjorie Bruce being met
at the border by her future husband, Walter, 6th High
Steward, on her release from captivity in England after
Bannockburn. of Scotland..
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