Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Robert the Bruce and John Comyn

On February 10, 1306, during the Scottish Wars of Independence, John Comyn and Robert the Bruce met at Greyfriars Church in Dumfries.  This conference of two claimants to the Scottish throne resulted in Comyn's death, stabbed before the high altar.

Scott's version of this event comes from his "Tales of a Grandfather":

“Robert the Bruce had fixed his purpose, as I told you, to attempt once again to drive the English out of Scotland, and he desired to prevail upon Sir John the Red Comyn, who was his rival in his pretensions to the throne, to join with him in expelling the foreign enemy by their common efforts. With this purpose, Bruce posted down from London to Dumfries, on the borders of Scotland, and requested an interview with John Comyn. They met in the church of the Minorites in that town, before the high altar.  What passed betwixt them is not known with certainty ; but they quarrelled, either concerning their mutual pretensions to the crown, or because Comyn refused to join Bruce in the proposed insurrection against the English ; or, as many writers say, because Bruce charged Comyn with having betrayed to the English his purpose of rising up against King Edward. It is, however, certain that these two haughty barons came to high and abusive words, until at length Bruce, who, I told you, was extremely passionate, forgot the sacred character of the place in which they stood, and struck Comyn a blow with his dagger. Having done this rash deed, he instantly ran out of the church and called for his horse. Two gentlemen of the country, Lindesay and Kirkpatrick, friends of Bruce, were then in attendance on him. Seeing him pale, bloody, and in much agitation, they eagerly inquired what was the matter.

" I doubt," said Bruce, " that I have slain the Red Comyn."
" Do you leave such a matter in doubt!" said Kirkpatrick.
" I will make sicker !" — that is, I will make certain.

Accordingly, he and his companion Lindesay rushed into the church, aud made the matter certain with a vengeance, by despatching the wounded Comyn with their daggers. His uncle. Sir Robert Comyn, was slain at the same time.

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