The Bruce Dynasty, Becket and Scottish Pilgrimage to Canterbury, c.1178-c.1404


Penman MA (2006) The Bruce Dynasty, Becket and Scottish Pilgrimage to Canterbury, c.1178-c.1404. Journal of Medieval History, 32 (4), pp. 346-370.;

This paper seeks to question the assumption that the outbreak of prolonged Anglo-Scottish war in 1296 brought an abrupt decline in Scottish interest in St Thomas, his shrine at Canterbury and the great abbey dedicated to him in Scotland at Arbroath. A survey of Scottish devotion to Becket after 1296 reveals that in fact the interest of the monarchy and certain sections of Scottish society intensified. For the two Bruce kings, devotion to Becket developed a double importance although in very different political contexts. For Robert I (1306-29) St Thomas, Canterbury and Arbroath served as both a focus of personal faith and of strategic observances in the struggle against England. However, for David II (1329-71), captured in battle against England in 1346, such observances also became a central feature of attempts to persuade his subjects of the value of closer Anglo-Scottish relations: David's reign was marked by a surge in pilgrimage to Canterbury by Scottish royals, nobles, clerics and ordinary lay folk. Had David lived longer and/or produced a Bruce heir, continued Scottish devotion to Becket might have formed the basis of far more amicable Anglo-Scottish relations than would be the norm under Stewart kings of Scots after 1371.

Scotland; piety; Becket; Canterbury; Arbroath; pilgrimage

Journal of Medieval History: Volume 32, Issue 4

Publication date31/12/2006
Publication date online01/11/2006
PublisherElsevier Ltd.
Publisher URL