To summarise ~
The first of these linked articles listed the accepted maternal
line of King Robert the Bruce, the Carrick inheritance. The second
looked at the mythical Viking descent of his paternal line, for
which there is no known supporting evidence at all. The third
and fourth articles looked at the Flemish connection.
Although seemingly driven by the search for his paternal ancestry,
we actually set out to answer three different questions ~
1. Why did the Bruces bear the blue lion rampant when the evidence
suggests it was an emblem of the powerful Louvain family?
2. Why did Gelre Herald, writing in Flemish in his armorial, picture
King Robert II (the Bruce's grandson) bearing on his mantling
the arms of the Lordship of Annandale (left)?
3. Why did King David I grant the strategically important territory
of Annandale (the gateway to southwest Scotland and the defensive
barrier against the rapacious tribesmen of Galloway) to Robert
de Brusee, Lord of Cleveland in England, a man comparatively unknown
There is no surviving evidence of the Louvain family bearing the
blue lion in the eleventh century, but its use in the Percy family
after Jocelyn de Louvain had married that family's heiress is
well attested and the head of that family, the Duke of Northumberland,
still bears the blue lion on a gold field in his first quarter
today (i.e. with precedence over the Percy arms). The Bruce family,
however, is known to have borne the blue lion on various fields,
sometimes counterchanged, from the earliest years of heraldry.
The precedence among tinctures and the precedence of simplicity
demonstrate that the lion on the simple gold field, as borne by
Jocelyn de Louvain, is the senior version of the arms.
Gelre Herald's preoccupation with the Annandale Lordship's arms
is manifested further on the same page as that on which he paints
the arms of the King of Scots, the King of Man (the Isle of Man)
and nine earls. Six more earls are on the next page, but on this
one, although ranking only as a lordship, are the arms of Annandale, a title then merged in the Crown and thus without a separate
existence. Of the twelve achievements on the page, only two, the
King's and Annandale, bear arms on the mantling, but whereas the
royal mantling alludes to ancestry with the "Annandale" arms,
the Annandale manting shows the original undifferenced arms ~
i.e. without the red chief !!!
It is impossible to know for certain what was in Gelre Herald's
mind when he chose to emphasise the royal link to Annandale and
then the link from the differenced arms to the undifferenced arms,
but we have a clue in the Flemish connection and in the known
importance the Flemish nobility placed on the significance of
ancient Flemish lineage.
The pursuit of the answers to the third question brings us to
an area of great importance to Scotland's national development.
When David inherited the Scottish crown in 1124 he took over a
country blighted by internal wars, a country that needed peace
to be imposed by a strong ruler. To assist him he imported from
England a contingent of Flemish nobles who brought with them the
arts of pacification and castle-building.
Among this Flemish contingent was Robert de Brusee (the great-great-great-grandfather
of the future king), a man with whom he had formed a friendship
long before he succeeded to the throne, while he was living in
England as Earl of Huntingdon, after his marriage with Maud (Matilda).
Robert, Lord of Cleveland, a rich man who owned 94 manors in Yorkshire
alone, was entrusted with the rule of Annandale, and here he introduced
the motte and bailey castles which in the following years would
spread through the populated areas of Scotland.
In this system of government, each castle was governed by a castellan
(a sheriff) responsible to the territorial lord, just as the Bruce
family had been responsible to the Count of Mortain in the Cotentin,
and just as Robert de Bruges had been responsible to the Count
of Flanders eighty years earlier. The similarity between the new
Scottish system and the established Flemish system can be readily
understood by reference to La Flandre sous les premiers comtes, 3rd edition, by F.L. Ganshof (Brussels 1949) pp. 104-6.
This abbreviated chart offers an answer to the three questions.
There may be another generation between Robert de Bruges and the
first Robert de Brusee (for with Robert appearing as a name in
every generation it is sometimes difficult to allocate lifespans),
but it serves to illustrate the relationships which would allow
the use of, and the changes in the use of, the two principal Bruce
arms ~ the blue lion, and the saltire and chief.
Could Robert de Bruges, as a younger son of the powerful Count
of Louvain, have accepted the post of Castellan from the Count
of Flanders? Most certainly, yes! The Count of Flanders was then,
de facto, probably the most powerful sovereign in northwest Europe. Bruges
was strategically of huge importance. It would be a very attractive
offer, especially to a landless younger son, and it could be expected
to lead on to further opportunities (such as the offer to accompany
the Count's daughter to Normandy, when she left to marry Duke
William, the eventual Conqueror of England, an offer that would
entail a grant of land in the Cotentin).
That is not the end of the story of the blue lion. It lives on
today, not only, as we have seen, in the arms of the Chief of
the Percy clan, the Representer of Jocelyn de Louvain, the Duke
of Northumberland. The Chief of the Bruce family, the Earl of
Elgin, bears it on a silver canton in his arms, and the City of
Bruges bears today Barry of eight Argent and Gules a lion rampant crowned Azure armed
and langued of the Second wearing a collar and cross Or. The picture below right shows an older version of these arms,
without the crown, collar and cross.
Earl of Elgin
Chief of the Name of Bruce
Footnote ~ Readers who crosscheck the graphic of the arms of Annandale with
the picture reproduced by R.R. Stodart in the first volume of
his Scottish Arms (published 1881) will find discrepancies. Stodart
worked from inaccurate reproductions and was unable to visit Brussels
to examine the original. He attributes the Annandale arms to the
name of Anderson, and in his picture he has removed the arms from
|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|