heraldry - Baronage header


The Ancestry of Robert the Bruce

IV ~ The Blue Lion in Flanders


In Part III we noted that Robert de Brusee, Lord of Cleveland and of Annandale, Baron of Skelton, a man famous for his rôle at the Battle of the Standard in 1138, arranged for his son Robert to take over the Annandale fief David I, King of Scots, had granted him. The elder Robert thereafter bore the rampant blue lion on a silver field as his father had done (his cousins, the Lords of Bramber, bearing a golden lion on a blue field).
heraldry - The blue lion
We saw also that Alexander Nisbet (1722) claimed the elder Robert had married the heiress of Annandale and had borne her father's arms, the Or a saltire and chief Gules which would now be his son's.
The elder Robert had married Agnes, daughter of Fulk de Paganell, but there is no evidence of a subsequent marriage to Agnes de Annand, the legendary heiress. There is no evidence either of Bruce predecessors as the Lords of Annandale bearing arms, certainly not these depicted here on the left. Their connection with Annandale can be traced only as far back as the Bruces, and in 1124, when David granted Annandale to Robert, few native Scots, if any, bore arms. Only the Flemish incomers brought in by David are believed to have done so.
heraldry - Arms of Annandale Lordship
heraldry - Arms of Jocelyn de Louvain
We can return to the origin of these arms later. For the present we can note that at the time of the elder Robert's death in 1141, the Skelton Bruces bore the blue lion and the Scottish Bruces the red saltire and chief. We have noted also that Jocelyn de Louvain, half-brother of Queen Adeliza (second wife of King Henry I) and son of Godfrey I, Duke of Brabant, Count of Louvain, came to England shortly afterwards and in 1154 married Agnes, one of the two co-heiresses of the huge Percy territories. His descendants also bore the blue lion rampant, but on a gold field, as his representer, the Duke of Northumberland, still does today.
Jocelyn's father, Godfrey, bore as Duke of Brabant Sable a lion rampant Or, and as Count of Louvain Gules a fess Argent. There is no surviving documentary evidence to explain why Jocelyn, a younger son, bore, as his descendants have always attested, Or a lion rampant Azure. Beryl Platts has suggested that these were arms originally used by the Louvain family in the branch of Otto, senior grandson of Count Lambert I of Louvain, and that when Otto's line died out the arms moved sideways to a cadet branch, one that bore the surname Brus. Mrs Platts has proposed that this branch descends from a first cousin of Otto, which would place the later generations relatively close in blood to Maud, the Queen of David I, and could account for the especial favours David showered on the Bruce family in Scotland.
heraldry - Arms of the Castellan of Bruges We can now return to the "Annandale" arms. In the 12th century the Castle of Bruges was held by the de Praete family, whose arms were Or a saltire Gules. Among the previous holders of the castle, certainly in 1046, was a Robert de Bruges. He disappears from the history of Bruges a few years later, about the time Matilda of Flanders went to Normandy to marry Duke William and took many of her countrymen with her, about the time that Robert de Brusee is said to have built a castle there (named Bruise or Brix or Brux).
In those very early years of heraldry, before devices became more strictly hereditary, it would not have been unusual for the successors of Robert de Bruges to maintain the same banner flying above the Castle of Bruges, and Robert de Bruges would perhaps have thought little of it, especially if he was about to take his Louvain cousin's rampant blue lion to the Cotentin.
heraldry - King of Scots from Gelre Armorial
In the middle of the 14th century the Armorial de Gelre included the armorial achievement of (in Flemish) die coninc van scotlant (right). The arms on the shield feature "the ruddy lion tramping in its field of tressured gold", but on the mantling can be seen the "Annandale" arms !!! Why? If another coat was thought by the herald (Claes Heynen) to be desirable, then the Argent a chevron Gules of the Earldom of Carrick, greater in seniority and extent and riches, would be the natural choice, not a mere lordship.
But perhaps the herald recognised that the Bruces had taken their ancient Flemish arms to Annandale, and had added the chief for difference (as was then common for cadets), to announce and to honour their origins.
On the next page we shall summarise what we have discussed by producing a tree of the Louvain connections. CLICK HERE!

The First Earls of Carrick
The Bruces in Normandy
The Mysterious Blue Lion
The July-August 2001 Baronage contents page
© 2001 The Baronage Press Ltd and Pegasus Associates Ltd