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The Brus Family in England and Scotland, 1100-1295

The Brus Family in England and Scotland, 1100-1295

Ruth M. Blakely
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 286
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  • Book Info
    The Brus Family in England and Scotland, 1100-1295
    Book Description:

    Robert de Brus, the "conquisitor of Cleveland, Hartness and Annandale", who came into England among the followers of Henry I, was also a close companion and mentor of David I, king of Scots. The lands he acquired from both kings were divided between his sons, from whom two lines descended: the lords of Skelton, influential Northerners who played an active part during the baronial troubles in the reigns of John and Henry III, and the prominent cross-Border lords of Annandale, co-heirs of the substantial Chester and Huntingdon estates and progenitors of King Robert Bruce. This study takes a fresh approach to the Brus family by assessing the achievements of the two lines in parallel while examining the extent of their power and the development of their lordships; it highlights the inter-relations between the barons of England and Scotland during two hundred years of comparative peace between the kingdoms. Of additional interest is the appendix of an extensive handlist of charters of the Brus family of both lines. It will be a welcome addition to the existing body of works on English baronial families and on Anglo-Scottish cross-Border lords of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-377-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xi)
  5. [Maps]
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    The name of Brus (Bruce) carries emotive overtones, associated as it is with Scotland’s struggle for independence from English overlordship and the consolidation of its national identity. Yet for most of the two centuries prior to Robert Bruce’s accesion to the kingship of the Scots in 1306, the family was among the foremost of those many baronial houses which held lands on both sides of the Anglo-Scotish border, the ’cros-border lords’ whose presence contributed in no small measure to stability of the region and cohesion between the two kingdoms. Throughout these years the collateral lines of Brus family, centred on...

  7. CHAPTER ONE Robert de Brus I: Founder of the Family
    (pp. 8-27)

    The first Robert de Brus, the ’conquisitor of Cleveland, Hartnes and Annandale’,¹ founder of Augustinian priory of Guisborough progenitor of both the English and Scotish branches the family, came into England from west of Normandy among the followers of Henry I in or around the year 1100. By 1103, when he makes his first appearance in royal records, Robert had already acquired some or all of the estates which made up the core of his Yorkshire fief, comprising more than one hundred manors granted to him almost entirely from the royal demesne and land of the ’king’s thegns’. Within another...

  8. CHAPTER TWO Divided Inheritance
    (pp. 28-46)

    The death of Henry I in 1135 brought an end to the amicable relations between the kings of England and Scotland, and radically altered the balance of power in the border regions. Until then Robert de Brus had been able to pay fealty to the king of Scots for Annandale without compromising his position as a major tenant-in-chief of the English king in Cleveland and Hartnes. The accession of Stephen de Blois was to place that dual allegiance under severe strain. In company with the majority of magnates and barons who had prospered as King Henry’s ’new men’, Robert had...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Lords of Skelton
    (pp. 47-66)

    The start of the new century, which followed quickly on the start of a new reign in England and gave fresh impetus to the Scottish king’s attempts to recover his lost possessions south of the Border, was also a time of new beginnings for both branches of the Brus family. Each was headed by a comparatively recent inheritor who suffered from the disadvantage of succeeding a long-lived father in whose time the status of the family had declined from its auspicious beginnings under Robert I. When William de Brus succeeded his father in about 1194, Robert II had been in...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Lords of Annandale
    (pp. 67-88)

    By the end of the thirteenth century, when the Yorkshire Bruses had passed into oblivion, Scottish Bruses were ascending towards their historic climax, beginning with the Great Cause in 1292 when Robert de Brus V, ’the Competitor’, narrowly lost the kingship of the Scots to John de Balliol, his cousin’s son, and coming to fruition in the person of his grandson, King Robert I. But the seeds of that achievement had been sown in the early years of the century, when the son of William de Brus, lord of Annandale, was married to Isabel, second daughter of Earl David of...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE The Brus Estates in England and Scotland
    (pp. 89-108)

    The previous chapters have been concerned with charting the careers and influence of the successive lords of Skelton and Annandale, with assessing the extent their power and their impact on the world of their day. The remainder of this study examines the basis of that power in terms of resources, lands and men, and social network within which they operated. It begins by detailing the Brus estates in both England and Scotland, their source, their extent, their gains and losses and their relative worth to the respective branches of the family; for,of all his assets,it was land and its right...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Land Management and Income
    (pp. 109-129)

    Although the overall view of the Brus lordships and estates as outlined in the preceding chapter, together with their assessment for servitium debitum, reflects the relative power and prestige of the two branches of the family, it does not take into account the income which each lord could command in order to maintain his family, household, lifestyle, and to fulfil the commitments commensurate with his status. When such income, so far as it can be ascertained, is used as the measure of their comparative wealth, a different picture emerges. By the later part of the thirteenth century, when both branches...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN Tenants, Companions and Household
    (pp. 130-155)

    Land provided the basis of a baron’s power. His ability to exercise that power, however,was dependent on the calibre and loyalty of the men he was able to attract to his service and settle on his estates. A study of these men can provide clues to the lord’s own background and status, his sphere of influence and degree of power. This chapter seeks to deal with three categories of such men: those subinfeudated with land, initially in return for knight service, those who provided their lord companionship and counsel, and those who were entrusted with specific duties in the running...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT Status,kin and Patronage
    (pp. 156-180)

    The aristocratic society of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was hierarchical and ruthlessly competitive. Although it was possible to cross the boundaries which divided each level, and men could be ’raised from dust’ by patronage of king, magnates or Church,yet there were very clear marker posts which men ignored at their peril. It was easier to fall than to rise. In such a society it was essential to a baron’s survival that he not only knew his own position within the hierarchy but made position plain to his associates, both superior and inferior, in order that he might take whatever...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 181-186)

    Throughout the two hundred years covered by this study, both lines of the Brus family display telling signs of an awareness of family continuity and descent from their common ancestor. Their choice Christian names, for example, persistently looks back to their Norman origins. The name of Robert, so popular with the Annandale Bruses, those of Adam and Peter, which recur regularly in Skelton line, and William, which was a favourite for younger sons, are all found in the Brus family of the Cotentin. Family pride, or rather an awareness of the Brus standing in society, is further exemplified in the...

    (pp. 187-194)
    (pp. 195-198)
    (pp. 199-232)
    (pp. 233-244)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 245-271)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 272-272)