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The Ancestry of Robert the Bruce
II ~ The Bruces in Normandy
The first article in this series discussed the descent of King Robert I, the Bruce, from his mother's line of the ancient Earls of Carrick. This is of interest primarily because it was then deemed politically useful to demonstrate his ancestral links to the Picts of a Scotland more ancient than that later ruled by the Flemings and Normans, the immigrants brought in by King David I, the Saint, to strengthen his realm's defences and to consolidate the feudalism that would eventually recreate Scotland as a nation. (Although Galloway in the southwest corner of Scotland was strongly Celtic, Carrick, its northern portion, was populated mostly by descendants of the Picts. The future king would have been raised to speak both Gaelic and the French of Normandy.)

The tinted portion of Normandy on this map represents the area originally ceded to the Viking Hrolfr the Ganger (Rollo) by the King of France in the early 10th century.
Traditionally, the origins of the Bruce family in the male line have been ascribed to the Norsemen, the Vikings, and a descent has been drawn from Lödver, a Jarl of Orkney ruling in the Northern Isles during the 10th century. His son and successor Sigurt, who was killed at the battle of Clontarf in 1014, is said to have had four sons from his first wife, one of whom, Brusee, supposedly had a son, Rognald, whose two sons, Eyliff and Ulf, have been said to have gone to Normandy, changed their names to Regenvald and Robert, and married respectively Felicia de Hastings and Emma of Brittany. On Felicia Regenvald is supposed to have fathered William de Brus, Lord of Brember in Sussex, ancestor of the Braose family. This same legend claims that Robert's son, Alan, was lord of Brix, a fief whose caput was five miles south of Cherbourg in the Cotentin peninsular and served as the Bruce centre in Normandy.
This is typical of the traditional descent ~
Traditional descent of the Bruce family
But there are others whose earlier generations are equally nebulous, and which arrive at William de Brus and Alan de Brix this way ~ 
Alternative descent of the Bruce family
It must be stressed that the two contradictory trees produced above are included here only to illustrate why the early legends are unreliable. They are not intended to represent historically accurate facts, even though they include some genuinely historical figures.

Here, to complete one of the lines quoted from Lödver back into the dark ages, is an offering from a respectable 19th century historian (who is not actually guaranteeing the accuracy of his data but merely repeating what he has read in various books) ~
THEBOTAW, Duke of Lleswig and Stermarce, living 721, married Gundella (of the family from which the Italian Ursinis descend) and had EUSLIN GLUMRICE who fled from Danish tyranny into Norway and married Ascrida, daughter of Ragenwald, the son of King Olaus, and had a son REGENWALD, counsellor to Harold the Fairhaired, who married Groe, daughter of Wrymund the King of Teorddin, and had a son EYNOR, 4th Jarl of Orkney, who had a son TORFINE the skullcleaver, 5th Jarl of Orkney, who married Garliola, daughter of Duncan Earl of Caithness, and had LÖDVER, 6th Jarl of Orkney who married Africa (see above).
Well, Torfine the skullcleaver existed. He was Thorfinn I Hausakliffer who became sole Jarl of Orkney when his two brothers enlisted as pirates with King Eric Bloodaxe. His father's great-grandfather was the famous Sigurd I Riki, "the Mighty", who cut off the head of Maelbrigte, the Mormaer of Moray, tied it to his saddlebow, and then, while cavorting around the battlefield, allowed Maelbrigte's jutting tooth to sink into his leg. He died from the subsequent bloodpoisoning. There is a lesson for all of us here, I suspect, but have not yet deduced what it might be. However, to return to the Bruces . . .
Although only the Brember and Cleveland branches are mentioned above, several Bruces are believed to have arrived in England either in 1066 or shortly thereafter. Their reward for the support they gave the Conqueror was substantial, and by the end of the century they had amassed around 200 manors, about half in the counties south of the Thames. Most of the remainder were in Yorkshire, and it is here, in the blood of Adam, Lord of Cleveland and Baron of Skelton, that we shall be led to King Robert I, the Bruce.
In the next two articles in this series we shall look at the alternative to the Viking descent and at the clues the arms borne by the Bruces provide.
Bruce of Skelton Bruce of Annandale Bruce of Carrick
Bruce of Skelton
Bruce of Annandale
Bruce of Carrick

The First Earls of Carrick
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