Robert de Brus, 1st Lord of Annandale

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Robert I de Brus, 1st Lord of Annandale (c. 1078 – 1138) was an early 12th century Norman baron and knight, the first of the Bruce dynasty of Scotland and England. A monastic patron, he is remembered as the founder of Gisborough Priory in Yorkshire, in present day Redcar and Cleveland, in 1119.[1]


Nothing is known of Robert's father, except that he was a landowner in Normandy.[2] An early modern historiographical tradition that he was the son of a Norman noble named Robert I le Brus or de Brus who came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066 and died ca. 1094 has been found to be without basis.[2]

Modern historians contend that Robert may have come from Brix, Manche, near Cherbourg in the Cotentin Peninsula, and came to England after King Henry I of England's conquest of Normandy (i.e.: at the same time as Alan fitz Flaad, ancestor of the Stuart Royal Family). David fitz Malcolm (after 1124 King David I of Scotland), was present in France with King Henry and was granted much of the Cotentin Peninsula. It is suggested that Robert de Brus's presences and absences at Henry's court coincide with David's.

Robert de Brus, having been given 80 manors in Yorkshire by Henry, then went to Scotland, where the new King, David, made him Lord of Annandale in 1124,[3] although there is scant evidence that this Robert took up residence on his Scottish estates.

After the death of King Henry, David refused to recognise Henry's successor, King Stephen. Instead David supported the claim of his niece and Stephen's cousin, Empress Matilda, to the English throne and taking advantage of the chaos in England due to the disputed succession there, he took the chance to realise his son's claim to Northumberland. These actions the first Lord of Annandale could not countenance and as a result Robert de Brus and King David parted company, with Robert bitterly renouncing his homage to David before taking the English side at the Battle of the Standard.[4] The reasons for de Brus's disagreement with and subsequent estrangement from David are unknown, but it is possible to speculate. They could for instance include a feeling of loyalty to Henry's successor, a desire to protect his lands in Yorkshire from the instability in England which David's intervention was only going to foment or de Brus's unwillingness to support a woman as monarch, which was virtually unheard of in the Middle Ages or perhaps a combination of all three. In any case, this was clearly no minor disagreement between the two men, seeing as they took opposite sides in the ensuing conflict.


Robert is said to have married twice: (1) Agnes, daughter of Geoffrey Bainard, Sheriff of York and (2) Agnes, daughter and heiress of Fulk de Pagnall, Lord of Carleton, North Yorkshire[5][6]

There were two sons, but it is unclear by which spouse:


  1. ^ Sherlock, Stephen. "Gisborough Priory: Information for Teachers" English Heritage. 2001. 1 Oct 2008.
  2. ^ a b Duncan, ODNB
  3. ^ Donaldson, Gordon, Scottish Historical Documents, Edinburgh, 1970, ISBN 7011-1604-8 :19, "David by the grace of God King of Scots, to all his barons, men, and friends, French and English, greeting. Know ye that I have given and granted to Robert de Brus Estrahanent (i.e: Annandale) and all the land from the boundary of Randolph Meschin; and I will and grant that he should hold and have that land and its castle well and honourably with all its customs," &c. This is a new charter and not a reconfirmation.
  4. ^ Burton, John Hill, The History of Scotland, New revised edition, Edinburgh, 1876, vol.1, p.437
  5. ^ Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, 1904 (online version available) Duncan, ODNB
  6. ^ Burke (1883) p.80


Robert de Brus, 1st Lord of Annandale
Born: c. 1078 Died: 1142
Preceded by
New Creation
Lord of Annandale
1113 x 1124-1138
Succeeded by
Robert II de Brus