Talk:Declaration of Arbroath

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Text probably belongs on WikiSource rather than here. —Ashley Y 10:55, Feb 25, 2004 (UTC)

The translation is a GFDL one done specially for Wikipedia. The text is here so that people may modify the translation if they think some part of it to be incorrect. -- Derek Ross 15:17, 25 Feb 2004 (UTC)

It may still be appropriate to put it on WikiSource... —Ashley Y 09:41, Feb 27, 2004 (UTC)

Most Famous Quote[edit]

The most famous quote from the declaration is the phrase traditionally translated as:

For as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any condition be brought under English rule. It is not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

The above phrase turns up hundreds of independent hits on google.

An unfortunate consequence of our translation is that this key phrase is translated uniquely. Someone searching for the well-known bit "as long as but a hundred..." (as I did) will not find our Wikipedia entry.

Is there a case for bringing this highlight of our translation partially into line with the traditional translation? --Air 15:38, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

As the author of the Wikipedia translation, I take your point. However I was aiming to make the translation as literal as I could without completely sacrificing English grammar. This was partly for reasons of clarity to others who might want to check the translation and partly to avoid copyright problems with other modern translations. The Wikipedia translation may not be as rousing as the one that you quote, but it is closer to what Cardinal de Linton actually wrote and it is licensed under the GFDL.

Having said that, how do we address your point ? Well I suggest that the best way is to include the quotation in the main article text with a comment about its place in history. That should allow people who search for it to find our article. We could also make minor changes to the translation: "True man" could be changed to "honest man" for instance. But I'm against reducing the accuracy of our work with the sole aim of getting more web hits or a higher ranking on Google. -- Derek Ross | Talk 02:27, 2004 Oct 16 (UTC)

Hi Derek, I agree with your points on accuracy of translation, the purist approach is best. After some research, the 'popular' translation was made by Sir James Fergusson. I can find other translations by Agnus Mure MacKenzie and another from 1689 which use different wording again. Hence I think a quote from Fergusson as you suggest will (1) point out his contribution and (2) highlight the most rousing part of the letter, while leaving our translation intact. --Air 14:57, 18 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Consent of the Governed[edit]

Does the phrase consent of the governed which first appears in the Declaration of Arbroath have deeper roots in the Magna Carta? -- (unsigned by Anon)

I don't remember seeing that phrase in the DoA. -- Derek Ross | Talk 07:34, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

I wish something could be done about the part about the Declaration of Independence. While some of the Scots who were associated with the DoI may have known about it, I have never seen the slightest evidence of a connection.

JRScotia (talk) 01:30, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

All those damned kings[edit]

I'm surprised the article doesn't at least mention the exasperation or humor (take your pick) in this passage:

  • "May it please you to admonish and exhort the King of the English, who ought to be satisfied with what belongs to him since England used once to be enough for seven kings or more..."
  • ...cui sufficere debet quod possidet cum olim Anglia septem aut pluribus solebat sufficere Regibus...

OtherDave 19:39, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

You're right: that is quite a funny line, <grin>. -- Derek Ross | Talk 20:22, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Funny, but also somewhat hypocritical since both Scotland and England were each formed from the amalgamation of several smaller petty kingdoms - not least Lothian, an Angle-land kingdom which became part of the Kingdom of Scotland. Cassandra

No Mention in Article of Declaration's Real Purpose[edit]

The declaration of Arbroath was a petition by Nobles to the Pope to have Robert the Bruce reinstated as a member of the Catholic Church as they felt he sho8uld be as King. He had been excommunicated for inviting his Comyn cousin to a church to parley and then murdereing him on the alter. (Comyn's had a similar claim to the throne as the Bruces-both having an ancestor who was of similar royal descent.)

Other than that is rather an oversimplification of what happened at Greyfriars, it was hardly ONLY Bruce who was excommunicated. The entire realm was under ban of excommunication which was a great hardship on the realm.

Their excommunication was not only for the Comyn murder, for which he had received absolution from none other than Bishop Wishart, but for their continuing resistance to their "English overlord."

JRScotia (talk) 01:28, 6 May 2009 (UTC)


Is there an extant evidence of the Pope's response to the Declaration? (talk) 01:31, 20 June 2010 (UTC)

Edit 14/7/11 - explanation[edit]

The article is tagged {confusing}. There is no explanation on this talkpage but I suppose that it refers to the part discussing the two differing interpretations of the part of the Declaration which says that if Bruce consented to English overlordship he would be deposed. Consequently I tried to present them as clearly as possible while keeping references (but removing unsourced statements tagged {CN} since October last year). I only deleted the passage which read

"it can also be argued[citation needed] to have been a means of passing the responsibility for disobeying papal commands from the king to the people. In other words, Robert I was arguing that he was forced to fight an illegal war (as far as the Pope was concerned, since they were meant to be fighting against the Infidel, not each other[5]) or face being deposed."

because, although there is some source (to which I unfortunately don't have access) mentioned, the passage makes no sense to me either. I also expanded on the consequent papal acceptance of the Scottish cause ("[The Pope heeded to the arguments contained by the Declaration,] influenced by the offer of support for his long-desired crusade from the Scots if they no longer had to be wary of English invasion, and exhorted Edward II in a letter to make peace with the Scots,") and added that the next year he changed his mind again. And I rewrote the following unsourced statement that "It was in part due to his [the Pope's] intervention that [the Treaty of Northampton] was finally signed by the English king, Edward III, on the 1 March 1328." to sourced "It was only in October 1328, after [the Treaty of Northampton], that the interdict on Scotland and the excommunication of its king were finally removed."

Anyway, if there is still something unclear about the article, please say so; otherwise I'm going to remove the tag next week. --Thrissel (talk) 19:19, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

Excellent! -- Derek Ross | Talk 02:54, 15 July 2011 (UTC)

Equality before God, sovereignty of the people[edit]

Surprised that there's no section discussing the assetion "there is neither weighing nor distinction of Jew and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman" in God's eyes.

This lends credence to the interpretation of the Declaration of being, consciously, an assertion of people (or a people) having an intrinsic worth, a god-given equality of soul or essence, as a justification for the right to choose or depose a king. It tends to contradict the interpretation that would limit the "we" of the declaration to the nobility alone, but extends it to the country as a whole. This was how it was interpreted by the seventeenth century; and was the reason why it was, evidently, important that the populace of Scotland's cities, burghs and towns assented in writing to the deposing of James vii and his replacement by William & Mary.

Also, it counters the common perception in Medieval times of "right of conquest" or "might is right". The parallels are being made between powerful and less powerful peoples; or between status and the lack of it -- in order to deny that these are valid. Again, this is pretty remarkable for its time.

Making this direct parallel that substitutes "Scotsman" for "Jew" is notable, given the ferocious antisemitism in western Europe in those times. That deserves a section in its own right.

The concept of the "sovereignty of the people" in the 1320 document, and the influence that this Declaration had (through Scottish-schooled Americans) on the US Declaration of Independence surely bears mentioning? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:51, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

Origin and Accuracy[edit]

According to the National Archives website:

"The document in the National Records of Scotland is the only surviving copy of the Declaration. It was kept with the rest of the national records in Edinburgh Castle until the early seventeenth century. When work was being done on the castle, the Declaration was taken for safekeeping to Tyninghame, the home of the official in charge of the records. While there it suffered damage through damp and it returned to the custody of the Deputy Clerk Register (the predecessor of the Keeper of the Records of Scotland) in 1829. Conservation staff at the NRS monitor the Declaration to ensure it survives for many centuries to come.

Although the Declaration was damaged during its absence from Edinburgh Castle, the full text was known from an engraving made around 1815, produced by the engraver William Home Lizars (1788-1859)."

The most commonly quoted translation was made made by Sir James Fergusson, 8th Baronet (1904–1973).

Meanwhile 'A Manuscript Copy of the Declaration of Arbroath from the Roman Archives of Fr Luke Wadding (1588–1657)' published in the Scottish Historical Review. Volume 90, Issue 2, Page 296-315, ISSN 0036-9241, available Online since October 2011, suggests that there were reputedly once at least four versions of the text.

These beg several questions, not least: Did William Lizars, or those who commissioned him, have access to the complete document before he made his copy - or did they 'fill in' the missing text with a 'best guess'? And how certain are we that the document really is the age claimed for it, and not say a 16th century mock up?

Have any recent studies been done to address these questions (for example by carbon dating or textual analysis) which can then be added to the main page? Cassandra — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:20, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

Wow! You're going to have so many Scots on your case. Whatever you do, don't give them your email address :) Wilfred Brown (talk) 05:45, 20 April 2017 (UTC)


Shouldn't the article mention that the declaration was overturned when King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. ( (talk) 12:37, 9 December 2015 (UTC))

Well, it was just a letter to the Pope, not a legal document, so it's a bit difficult to see how it could be overturned. Care to explain? -- Derek Ross | Talk 01:02, 10 December 2015 (UTC)

Proposed merge with the List of signatories of the Declaration of Arbroath page[edit]