Robert the Bruce (1274-1329) is one of the most famous Scottish Kings, and managed, at least temporarily, to secure military (if not diplomatic) independence from England. The legendary victory of the Scottish led by Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, against seemingly overwhelmingly superior English forces, has become of one of the defining moments in Scottish history…
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One of those, and the subject of this study, is Thomas Randolph, the 1st Earl of Moray. He is an important figure throughout the Scottish Wars of Independence and acted as a Regent to the Crown from Bruce's death in 1329 until his own death in 1332.
It is interesting to note that few detailed studies of Randolph have been undertaken, despite his importance within Scottish history. This analysis attempts to balance this situation somewhat, through providing a detailed examination of Thomas Randolph as an individual, in his relationship with Robert the Bruce/other Scottish nobles, of his involvement in both Scottish military/diplomatic achievements and his subsequent tenure as Guardian of the Scottish realm.
As a multifaceted figure, Randolph deserves a consideration of the various activities which he undertook during his tragically shortened life. There are numerous contradictions within the story of Randolph which will be considered in a sober and objective manner. He was not an unthinking, blind follower of Robert the Bruce, and indeed changed sides to fight for the English for a while. As an individual who may be considered a 'professional soldier' (as far as such a thing existed in the Fourteenth Century) Randolph was a consummate military commander who had very specific opinions on not only why a war should be fought but also how it should be fought.
Randolph is in many ways as good a source for legendary feats as the Bruce himself. His taking of Edinburgh Castle, one of the last English strongholds what stood atop a supposedly impregnable rock, has gone down in history as an act of almost superhuman military skill. Yet it is the man beneath such legendary acts, and thus the individual that has been largely ignored by history, which will be of great importance within this study. A contrast of the legend and the reality is a suitable focus for an examination of such a figure, and it is the one that will be adopted in this study.
This literature review will be divided into primary and secondary sources and will present some of the varying views of the man that they entail.
There are a number of primary sources that may be used in conjunction with a study of Randolph, although these are by necessity limited due to the scarcity of documents in general from this time. Documents are particularly few and far between in the pre-Bannockburn days, although some conjectures can be made using those which are available. Two of the main sources are the Regesta Regum Scottorum V1 and the Regesta Regum Scottorum VI2. These record the various laws and edicts passed by Scottish Kings and their associated noblemen, especially within the Feudal system that was still present during the time period being discussed here.
The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland3 give information on financial matters within Scotland at the time, while the
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