Bruce, Edward d. 1318, king of Ireland, was younger brother of Robert Bruce [qv.], king of Scotland. In 1308 Edward Bruce took part in the incursion upon the district of Galloway by King Robert, and, during the indisposition of the latter, acted as a commander of his forces in their retreat from those of the Earl of Richmond, governor in Scotland for Edward II. Edward Bruce was subsequently despatched by his brother against Galloway, which resisted his authority. He routed the English commander and his Scottish allies there, and compelled the inhabitants to swear allegiance and to furnish contributions. In this contest he succeeded by a stratagem in putting to flight the English troops. The details of this enterprise were chronicled by the poet Barbour, from the narration of one of Bruce's associates. On the banks of the Dee, Edward Bruce defeated the forces brought against him by the chiefs of Galloway, and made a prisoner of Donall, prince of the Isles. He reduced a large number of castles and strongholds in Galloway, and brought that district under the dominion of King Robert. Edward Bruce's success in Galloway was celebrated in a contemporary poem. While King Robert was engaged on an expedition against the Isle of Man, Edward Bruce gained possession of the town of Dundee. Before the end of 1313, he besieged Stirling Castle, then almost the last fortress held in Scotland for the king of England. Philip de Mowbray, governor of the castle, after a vigorous defence, entered into a treaty to surrender it to Edward Bruce in the following midsummer, if not relieved. The terms of this treaty were disapproved of by King Robert, who, however, adhered to them. The attempt of the English army to relieve Stirling Castle led, in 1314, to the battle of Bannockburn, at which Edward Bruce was one of the chief commanders, and led the right column of the Scottish army. In the following year Edward Bruce, in conjunction with Douglas, devastated Northumberland and Yorkshire, levied large contributions, and returned to Scotland with great spoil. In 1315, in a convention of the prelates, nobles, and commons of Scotland, held at Ayr, an ordinance was enacted that Edward Bruce should be recognised as king, in the event of the death of his brother Robert without male heirs. Edward Bruce is described as a valiant and experienced soldier, but rashly impetuous. He is said to have aspired to share the kingship of Scotland with his brother. This circumstance is supposed to have induced King Robert to favour an expedition against the English in Ireland, which Edward Bruce was invited to undertake by some of the native chiefs there who regarded him as descended from the same ancestors as themselves. Edward Bruce landed in Ulster in May 1315, with about six thousand men, accompanied by the Earl of Moray and other Scottish commanders. The Scots, with their Irish allies, took possession of the town of Carrickfergus, laid siege to its strong citadel, and Bruce was crowned as king of Ireland. Edward Bruce encountered and defeated on several occasions the forces of the English government in Ireland. Robert Bruce having arrived with reinforcements from Scotland, he and his brother, early in 1317, marched from Ulster to the south of Ireland. After the return of King Robert to Scotland, Edward Bruce continued at Carrickfergus as king of Ireland. Bulls were issued by Pope John XXII for the purpose of detaching the Irish clergy from the cause of Edward Bruce. The archbishops of Dublin and Cashel and other dignitaries were enjoined by the pope to warn ecclesiastics to desist from inciting the Irish people against the king of England, and public excommunications were denounced against those who persisted in that course. A reproduction of one of those papal instruments appears in the third part of Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland. Barbour alleged that Edward Bruce defeated the troops of the English in Ireland in nineteen engagements, in which he had not more than one man against five, and that he was in a good way to conquer the entire land, as he had the Irish on his side, and held possession of Ulster. The poet adds, however, that Bruce's fortunes were marred by his outrageous pride. In the autumn of 1318, Edward Bruce projected another descent upon Leinster. To prevent this movement, a large army was mustered by the colonists. Bruce's chief advisers counselled him against coming to an engagement with forces numerically superior to those under his command. He, however, declined to take their advice, and would not wait for reinforcements. In October a conflict took place near Dundalk, in which Bruce was slain and his forces put to flight. Bruce's corpse was found on the field, with that of John de Maupas stretched upon it. The quarters of Edward Bruce's body were set up as trophies in the chief towns of the English colony in Ireland, and his head was presented to Edward II in England. Barbour averred that the head was not Bruce's, but that of his devoted follower, Gilbert Harper, who wore his armour on the day of battle. Owing to the death of Edward Bruce new legislative arrangements were made relative to the royal succession in Scotland. An instrument is extant by which Robert Bruce confirmed a grant of land which had been made by his brother Edward as king of Ireland. The most detailed account of Edward Bruce's proceedings in Ireland is contained in Latin annals of that country appended by Camden to his Britannia in 1607. A new edition of these annals, in which the oversights of Camden have been corrected by collation with the manuscript, was printed in the London Rolls Series in 1883. John Barbour, archdeacon of Aberdeen, in his poem, composed about 1375, tells little of Edward Bruce except in connection with his transactions in Ireland and death there. Many records illustrative of affairs in Ireland during the presence of the Bruces there are included among Historical and Municipal Documents of Ireland, published in the London Rolls Series in 1870.

     Johannis de Fordun Chronica gentis Scotorum, ed. T. Hearne 1722, W. Goodall 1775, and W. F. Skene 1871
     Acts of Parliament of Scotland, 1814
     Annals of Scotland, by Lord Hailes, 1819
     Annals of Kingdom of Ireland, 1848
     Hist. of Viceroys of Ireland, 1865
     Hist. of Scotland, by P. F. Tytler 1864, and J. H. Burton 1867
     Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Scotland, part ii. 1870
     The Bruce ed. W. Skeat, 1870
     Chronicles of Edward I and Edward II, ed. Stubbs, 1882-3
     Chartularies of St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, 1884-5.

Contributor: J. T. G. [John Thomas Gilbert]

Published: 1886