Archive for the ‘Churches’ Category

We started the story…

  • …of Inchaffray Abbey, and Bruce’s endowment to it in PART ONE, I talked about Bruce’s decision to give an endowment for a chapel to St. Fillan and a brief history of the early, awful months of 1306.
  • In PART TWO, I got into the detail of the Battle of Dalrigh, which, according to one source, is likely the 1306 event for which Bruce credited Fillan’s help.  I finished with:

Now comes the fun (or frustrating) part of research.  The more answers we find, the more questions arise, and all too often, those answers conflict with one another.  We’ll get into some of those tomorrow, along with more on Inchaffray itself and St. Fillan.

[Yes, I just used the quote feature to quote myself.  Now that I've been quoted, does that mean I'm famous?]The frustrations are that some things we just will likely never know for sure.  And that sources sometimes conflict.  The fun…is the same thing.  Mysteries and questions abound!In the case of Bruce’s endowment for the chapel to St. Fillan, his motivation is given in one paper (The Kingship of Robert I, 1306-29) as being ‘in thanks for the intercession of that saint during Bruce’s flight into exile through Perthshire in 1306.’  His source: S. Taylor’s ‘The Cult of St Fillan in Scotland’, in T.R. Liszka and L.E.M. Walker eds., The North Sea World in the Middle Ages: Studies in the Cultural History of North-Western Europe (Dublin 2001).  Not having access to that source, I don’t know what their basis is for linking the endowment to Dalrigh.

Wikipedia, without citing a source for his motivation in particular, says that the gift was in thanks for the miracle at Bannockburn, while Temple of Mysteries, the website of The Stone of Destiny: In Search of the Truth, says only that Bruce’s building of the ‘priory’ (it is called a priory, rather than a chapel here) so shortly after Bannockburn suggests repaying a favor.  He does not speak to which favor, but I would hazard he means the miracle at Bannockburn.

The remains of St. Fillan’s Priory

Regarding the use of the word priory, one site says Bruce ‘endowed a chapel’ which was ‘attached to’ the Inchaffray Abbey.  Temple of Mysteries says he built a priory.  This may not be different things, although the choice of words might infer different things on first reading.  We do know that the original Inchaffray Priory was created around 1200 by Gilbert, Earl of Strathearn and his first (known) wife.  It became an abbey about 1220.

And here we come to another Fun/Frustrating aspect of research: the rabbit holes!  What is the difference between an abbey and a priory?  In short, so as not to digress, a priory is generally considered a ‘lower level’ or subordinate to an abbey.  If you’d like to go down that rabbit hole yourself, you can read a bit more here.

My guess is that Bruce’s endowment for the chapel to St. Fillan does not need to be assigned as thanks for either his escape at Dalrigh or his miraculous victory at Bannockburn.  It may have been a more general thank you for both of these and possibly for more incidents that have not survived in recorded history.  [We sometimes seem to forget that just because our earliest sources mentioning Bruce praying to Fillan date from a hundred years after the fact, (as mentioned in Temple Mysteries) that does not mean that's the first written mention of it.  It may have been documented in multiple sources that did not survive.]

So my guess is that it was in thanks for both and possibly for more.

Bruce had long had a devotion to St. Fillan.  What becomes the interesting question to me is where this devotion started.  It’s not a question I have deeply researched, but it is mentioned in Temple Mysteries that St. Fillan was said to have suffered from leprosy.  Many sites claim Bruce did, too.  So the suggestion put forth is that the leprosy connection (not to be confused with the Rainbow Connection–Muppet reference for you young ‘uns.) is what led to Bruce’s affinity for Fillan.

I tend to side with those who say Bruce had a skin condition that was often erroneously called leprosy at some historical point or perhaps got garbled in translation somewhere along the line–but was not the Biblical leprosy we think of.  But a man with leprosy would likely not be living among others, as Bruce clearly did.  I suspect even for a king, such a thing would not be allowed, and if he had, he did, and it was–wouldn’t we hear about more noblemen around him having leprosy, too?

While I have not researched it in particular, I have also not, in my years of familiarity with St. Fillan, ever heard that he had leprosy.

I would offer that his devotion to Fillan may have begun with the blessing from the abbot at the Culdee Church and the Dalrigh escape.  Or perhaps it started earlier, which is why he credited Fillan with that escape.  Fillan was one of the great Celtic saints, and Bruce certainly had Celtic roots through his mother.

In the end, what we can safely say is that in the first three months of 1318, Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, endowed something–priory or chapel–dedicated to St. Fillan, in connection with Inchaffray Abbey, in thanks for the Saint’s help at some time or times plural.


As a writer, this gives enough information to be historically accurate and enough room to work it into the story.

More on St. Fillan: Temple of Mysteries  and A Family of Saints by Dmitry Lapa (the picture above is his–it was the only picture I could find anywhere of the ruins; lots of great pictures on his page.)

~ ~ ~
If you would like to read more medieval history, there’s a great deal more at my other blog.
To learn more about my books, click on the images below
If you would like to follow this blog, sign up HERE
If you like an author’s posts, please click like and share
It helps us continue to do what we do
 

Once again, we have a winner!  An e-mail has been sent out to the winner of the Freedom Hop.

~~

 

July 10 is a date that was to have great impact on the Scottish Wars of Independence.  Before Robert the Bruce became one of Scotland’s greatest kings, there was John Balliol, king of Scots.  In the wake of Alexander III dying without a clear heir, the Scottish lords, fearing bloody disputes among the 13 competitors for the throne, called in Edward I of England to settle the matter.  The strongest claims to the throne came from John Balliol and Robert the Bruce, grandfather of the later king of Scots who fought at Bannockburn.

 

Edward chose John Balliol.  Even today, historians discuss who had the stronger claim, and many do say that he did.  However, Edward’s motives were not so pure.  He had declared himself overlord, or Lord Paramount of Scotland, and believed Balliol would be a suitable puppet king.

 

Almost immediately upon the new king’s coronation on November 30, 1292, Edward I began a series of actions designed to undermine and humiliate Balliol.  In 1294, Edward demanded that Scotland send troops to help fight England’s war against France.  King John refused.  Rather, his council of twelve made a treaty with France known as the Auld Alliance.

 

Edward, on finding out, took a break from fighting the French to march north and sack the town of Berwick on March 30, 1296, killing thousands of men, women, and children over the course of three days.

 

Very shortly after his men finished their bloody massacre, Edward received a message from King John, renouncing his homage to the English king.  Edward is reported to have said, O foolish knave!  What folly he commits!  If he will not come to us, we will go to him.

 

And so Edward turned his army on the Earl of March’s castle at Dunbar, just north of Berwick.  The Earl of March sided with Edward, but his wife, Marjory Comyn, sister to the Earl of Buchan, felt otherwise, and allowed the Scots to use the castle.

 

On April 27, the English defeated the Scots at Dunbar.  In the following months, more castles fell to England, and finally, on July 10, John Balliol was captured by the English in a churchyard in Strathaco.  There, Anthony Bek, Bishop of Durham, tore Scotland’s red and gold arms from Balliol’s surcoat, and Balliol was forced to abdicate the throne of Scotland and sign documents admitting to allying with Edward’s enemies, and giving the kingdom of Scotland to Edward.

 

It was a dark day for Scotland.

 

But it was not the end.

 

Perhaps Edward would have done better to allow John Balliol some nominal kingship, for from this void rose the great heroes of Scotland’s Wars of Independence: William Wallace, Andrew de Moray, James Douglas, Robert the Bruce, and many more.