no one person held the undisputed claim to be
King of the Scots.
No fewer than 13 'competitors', or claimants eventually emerged. They agreed to
overlordship and to
abide by his arbitration.
Edward decided in favour of
who did have a strong claim with links back to
William the Lion.
Edward's obvious manipulation of Balliol led the Scottish nobles to set up a
Council of 12 in July
as well as agreeing to an alliance with the
King of France.
Edward invaded, and after defeating Balliol at the
Battle of Dunbar
imprisoned him in the Tower of London. Balliol was eventually released into
Papal custody and ended his life in France.
the death of
The town, however, had made but little progress in commerce; though, as a
sea-port, it had obtained a reputation for the curing of fish, of which
its Rivers and the sea afforded ample supplies for the use of the inhabitants,
and also for exportation. Aberdeen, after it had recovered from the
devastation it had suffered from fire, was defended by a strong
Castle, and by Gates at the entrances of
the Principal streets; and the inhabitants, who in every time of danger were
distinguished by their undaunted courage in resisting the attacks of its
enemies, in all cases of assault were headed by their chief magistrate, who
invariably acted as their captain. In the wars which, after the death of
Alexander III., arose from the disputed succession to the throne, the City
had its full share of vicissitude and of the troubles of that distracted period.
Edward, King of England, to whom the arbitration of the contest had been
referred, though he appointed John Balliol to the Scottish throne, yet
considered himself entitled to the Sovereignty, and taking advantage of the
internal hostilities which prevailed, invaded Scotland with a powerful army, and
made himself master of the southern portion of the kingdom. Having dethroned
Balliol, he advanced with his forces to Aberdeen, and, securing possession of
the castle, placed in it an English garrison, which held the town and
neighbourhood in subjection. On the approach of
to the relief of the citizens, the English reinforced the garrison, plundered
and set fire to the town, and embarked on board their ships. Wallace,
after besieging the Castle without success, retreated to Angus, and
having sustained various reverses, was betrayed into the hands of Edward,
and conveyed prisoner to London, where he suffered death as a traitor; and his
body being quartered, one of his mangled quarters was exposed on the gate of the
Castle here, to intimidate his followers in this part of the country.
of England in 1296 at the head of a large army paid these northern parts
a visit. He entered the county by the road leading from Glenbervie to
Durris, whence he proceeded to Aberdeen, exacting homage from the burghers
during his 5 days' stay. From Aberdeen he went to Kintore and Fyvie
and on to Speyside, returning by the Cabrach, Kildrummy, Kincardine
O'Neil and the Cairn-o-Mounth.
1296 -1306 annexed to England.
William Wallace, in his patriotic efforts to clear the country from English
domination, surprised Edward's garrison at Aberdeen, but unable to effect
anything, hastily withdrew from the neighbourhood.
was back in Aberdeen in 1303 and paid another visit to Kildrummy
Castle, then in the possession of Bruce. Then Bruce, having
fled from the English court and assassinated the Red Comyn at Dumfries,
was crowned at Scone and the long struggle for national independence
began in earnest.
House of Bruce
Robert I the Bruce. In
at Greyfriars Church
Dumfries, he murdered his only possible rival for the throne,
John Comyn. He was
excommunicated for this sacrilege, but was still crowned
King of the Scots
a few months later. Robert was defeated in his 1st 2 battles against
the English and became a fugitive, hunted by both
Comyn's friends and the
English. Whilst hiding in a room he is said to have watched a spider swing from
one rafter to another, in an attempt to anchor it's web. It failed 6 times,
but at the 7th attempt, succeeded. Bruce took this to be an omen and
resolved to struggle on.
he came to Aberdeen, which was favourable to his cause. At Barra, not far
from Inverurie and Old Meldrum, his forces met those of the
Earl of Buchan (John Comyn) and defeated them (1308). It was
not a great battle in itself, but its consequences were important. It
marked the turn of the tide in the national cause. The Buchan district, in which
the battle took place, had long been identified with the powerful family of the
Comyns; and after his victory at Barra, Bruce devastated the district
with relentless fury. This "harrying of Buchan," as it has been called, is
referred to by Barbour as an event bemoaned for more than 50 years. The family
of the Comyns was crushed, and their influence, which had been liberal
and considerate to the native race of Celts, came to an end. The whole of the
north-east turned to Bruce's support, and in a short time all Edward's
garrisons disappeared. This upheaval created a fresh partition of the lands of
Aberdeenshire. New families such as the Hays, the Frasers, the
Gordons and the Irvines, were rewarded for faithful service by grants
of land. The re-settlement of the county from non-Celtic sources accentuated
the Teutonic element in the county.
His decisive victory over Edward
finally won the freedom he had struggled for.
After Bannockburn, Bruce rewarded Aberdeen itself for its support by granting to
the burgesses the burgh as well as the forest of Stocket.
Robert Bruce, in asserting his right to the Scottish throne, experienced many
privations, and was reduced to the necessity of taking refuge, with his wife and
children, among the mountains of Aberdeenshire; but having mustered a
considerable force, which was augmented by the citizens of Aberdeen, who
embraced his cause, he gave Battle near the Hill of
Barra, and obtained a victory over the English, who were under the
command of Comyn, Earl of Buchan, and Mowbray, the English leader.
According to Boece, the citizens, flushed with this success, returned to the
Town, assaulted the Castle, which they took by storm, and put the
garrison to the sword; and to prevent its falling again into the hands of the
enemy, they demolished the fortifications. The English in the vicinity
assembled their forces, and assaulted the City; but the townsmen, led on by
Fraser, their Provost, repulsed them with considerable slaughter. In reward of
their patriotism and valour on this occasion, the King granted the City
new armorial-bearings, with the motto Bon Accord, their watchword
on that memorable occasion; and after the Battle of Bannockburn, being
firmly seated on the throne, he gave the citizens several Charters, some ample
donations of lands, and the Forest of Stocket, with all the privileges
attached to it, reserving to himself only the growing timber, with the right of
hunting. In 1319 he honoured the Town with a visit.
1329 - David II
only surviving legitimate son of
he succeeded his father when only 5 years of age. He was the first Scottish King
to be crowned and anointed. Whether he would be able to keep the Crown was
another matter, faced with the combined hostilities of
and the 'Disinherited', those Scottish landowners that
had disinherited following his victory at
was for a while even sent to France for his own safe keeping. In support of his
allegiance with France he invaded England in
1346, whilst Edward
otherwise occupied with the siege of
His army was intercepted by forces raised by the
Archbishop of York.
David was wounded and captured. He was later released after agreeing to pay a
ransom of 1,000,000 marks. David died unexpectedly and without an heir, while
trying to divorce his 2nd wife in order to marry his latest mistress.
Subsequently to the death of Robert Bruce, and during the minority of his
son David II., a Civil War broke out in the country; and Edward III.
of England, who, with the exception of Aberdeen, had all the Scottish fortresses
in his possession, invaded the Kingdom to assert his right to the Sovereignty.
While triumphant in the southern districts of the Kingdom, Sir Thomas
Roscelyn, one of his Knights, landed a body of forces at Dunnottar,
with which he advanced to Aberdeen: the citizens, taking arms, met the
invaders on the Green, but were defeated with considerable loss, though
Roscelyn fell in the encounter; and the town was given up to plunder, and
set on fire by the English. David ll., who during
these troubles had remained in France, returned with his Queen, and having
regained his Kingdom, held his first Parliament in Aberdeen, which he
occasionally made his residence. He confirmed to the citizens all
the Grants which his father had conferred, and gave them every assistance in
rebuilding their town, which thence took the appellation of New Aberdeen,
though of much greater antiquity than the Kirktown of Seaton, since that
period called Old Aberdeen. After the expulsion of the English from
Scotland, Aberdeen began to flourish as a place of commerce, and was represented
in Parliament. In a Parliament held at Edinburgh, in 1357, to concert
measures for the Ransom of the Scottish King, David II., who since the
battle of Neville's Cross had been detained prisoner in England, the City
ranked as the 4th in the Kingdom, and became joint guarantee for the payment of
the stipulated surety. The King, on his return to Scotland, took up his
residence in the Town, which he frequently afterwards visited, and which, in a
subsequent Parliament, appeared as the first City on the Roll, after Edinburgh.