Swear Allegiance to… – Part 1

Studying the history of my Scottish ancestors opened my eyes to the life lessons found on the family tree.

I come from a long line of border reivers (Clan Kerr) with a fascinating history. But as always, to understand my ancestors, I take a step back and look at what was shaping the world around them. In so doing, I found the Declaration of Arbroath.

While not widely known, the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320 nonetheless became one of the most important documents of Scottish history and ultimately in western thought. It was the first document in European history, written by the people, declaring their rights to freedom. There are many who feel this document would later serve as inspiration to the writers of the Declaration of Independence.

Written to Pope John XXII, the Declaration names Robert the Bruce as the Ruler of Scotland. It goes on to say,

“To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought unto our people, we are bound both by law and by his merits that our freedom may be still maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand. Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth 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.”

Forty-five men put it all on the line to declare their right to freedom.  A freedom “which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”  It’s a powerful declaration with an equally powerful “but” that often gets overlooked.  Continued in Swear Allegiance to… – Part 2