.......Classical Heraldry .......

Arms of the 13th and 14th Centuries (5)


The arms chosen for this page are those of the seven Scottish earls who led the fight against the English king, Edward I, in 1296. They first, in March, invaded the western border areas, burned the suburbs of Carlisle and laid siege to its castle. They then in April burnt the priory of Hexham and wasted the country thereabout. Edward meanwhile attacked Berwick, massacred its inhabitants, and besieged Dunbar, bringing the Scottish army to battle. In the subsequent disaster the Earls of Athol, Menteith and Ross were captured, together with seven of Scotland's most powerful barons.
John of Strathbogie, Earl of Athol ~ Paly Sable and Or

After the battle of Dunbar he was held prisoner in the Tower of London until released in the summer of the following year. He returned to Scotland, assisted at the coronation of Robert the Bruce in 1306, and was again taken prisoner during the English invasion that followed. He was executed, his body burned, and his head impaled on a spike and displayed on London Bridge.

Heraldry - Arms of Earl of Athol
John Comyn, Earl of Buchan ~ Azure three garbs Or

The Buchan earls at this time had huge estates and held the office of Constable. John Comyn was a rival to Bruce and fought him twice, in 1307 and 1308, being defeated both times. He retired to England. His wife Isabel sided with Bruce and, as the sister of her absent brother, the Earl of Fife, placed the crown on Bruce's head at his coronation (for which loyalty the English imprisoned her in an open iron cage).

Heraldry - Arms of Earl of Buchan
Heraldry - Arms of Earl of Lennox Malcolm, Earl of Lennox ~ Argent a saltire engrailed between four roses Gules.

(Note that this may be blazoned also as Argent a saltire engrailed cantonned by four roses Gules.) Fordun (in Historians of Scotland vol.1, p. 342) says that after the defeats at Methven and Dalry in 1306, the Earl of Lennox and Gilbert de la Hay were the only nobles never to be parted from Bruce, save occasionally when enemy action required it.

Donald, Earl of Mar ~ Azure a bend between six cross-crosslets fitchée Or.

Donald and his son and successor Gratney were strong supporters of Robert the Bruce, Donald being taken prisoner at Dunbar the year before his death. Gratney married Bruce's sister Christian, who after Gratney's death married Sir Christopher Seton. Both were captured at Kildrummy, after which Sir Christopher was hanged, drawn and quartered.

Heraldry - Arms of Earl of Mar
Heraldry - Arms of Earl of Menteith Alexander Stewart, Earl of Menteith ~ Or a bend chequy Argent and Sable.

Alexander's father, Walter le Stewart (called Bailloch ~ freckled), was the third son of Walter, 3rd High Steward, and married Mary, daughter and co-heir of Maurice, 3rd Earl of Menteith, in whose right he acquired the earldom. Alexander succeeded his father and changed his surname to de Menteith. Note that Walter differenced the Stewart arms by changing the fess chequy to a bend and its Argent and Azure to Argent and Sable.

William de Ross, Earl of Ross ~ Gules three lions rampant Or

(Note that the right rear leg of a rampant lion should be clearly raised, and that this illustration is not good heraldry.) After his capture at Dunbar, William was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He then took the English side until 1308 when, threatened by Bruce's forces and with no English help to hand, he submitted to Bruce and was thereafter faithful to him. His son and successor, Hugh, had also been committed to the English side, but joined Bruce in 1308 with his father.

Arms of Earl of Ross
Malise, Earl of Strathearn ~ Or two chevronels Gules

(Note that the chevronel, the diminutive of the chevron, although usually appearing as two or more, can be borne singly. Nisbet in 1722 stated that they appeared only in England, that in Scotland and France two or more chevrons were still chevrons, not chevronels. That is no longer true.) Malise, 6th Earl of Strathearn, after his capture at Dunbar quickly submitted to the English king and had his estates restored to him. His son and successor, also Malise, remained faithful to Bruce.

Arms of Earl of Strathern

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