The Battle of Teba, 1330, 25 August
Bruce and companions' bodies.From: "Spirit One Email" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 23 Aug 1999 09:48:58 -0700
Quoting from the book Robert the Bruce by Ronald McNair Scott (RMS):
``Finally in Oct 1328 the Pope lifted the interdict from Scotland and the excommunication of Robert. He now felt his death approaching and the need to make peace with God. King Bruce spent Christmas of 1328 at Cardross where he recouperated enough to go on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Ninian, near Wigtownshire and the battlefield of Bannockburn. This saint was the first Christian missionary in Scotland (5th century). He was carried by stretcher on a last visit to St. Ninian. They got as far as Castle Kennedy by Stranraer when he had a relapse. He recovered enough after a month to go on to the shrine by April 1. He fasted four or five days and prayed to the saint. Then by slow stages they took him northwards through Galloway and Carrick and then he back to Cardross by the end of April.Probably our elderly Henry St. Clair was there. He died 1331. Perhaps his sons, William and John, were also there.
``They pledged their support to the King's son and to obey him when he came of age when he would be their King.He said that he had hoped to be able to go in person to fight against the heathen but now he wouldn't be able. He asked them to choose one among them to carry his heart against the enemies of Christ. This does not say that he particularly wanted his heart to go to Jerusalem. So in the battle of Teba they did carry out his wish after all. But this version varies on this point from that reported on the Douglas website.
RMS then quotes from a modern paraphrase of book 20 of The Brus by John Barbour, c. 1375:
``Then James Douglas knelt beside the King, and when he could speak for weeping he thanked him for all the benefits he had received since he first came into his service, but above all that he had been given the honour of taking into his keeping his master's heart, which all the world knew was so full of nobleness and valour. Then the King thanked him tenderly and `there was none in that company but wept for pity.'''The original Scots text by Barbour reads as follows:
`` `I thank you gretly lord,' said he,A few days later, Robert died on 7 June 1329, not quite 55 years old. His heart was placed in a little silver and enameled casket which Douglas placed around his neck.
RMS continues, quoting from a Cathcart family manuscript:
``Early in the spring of 1330, he set sail from Berwick in a ship fitted out in royal state so that all might know he was the bearer of the heart of Robert, King of Scotland, and on his way to lay it in the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. He had on board six knights, linked in friendship, neighbouring landowners from the Stewart domains: Sir William Sinclair of Roslyn, Sir Robert and Sir Walter Logan, Sir William Keith, Sir Alan Cathcart and Sir Seymour Loccard of Lee, and one other knight unnamed. Twenty-six squires and gentlemen were there to serve them.''Here again the quote at the Douglas site varies on this point. They point out that Bruce just wanted his heart "carried" to Jerusalem, symbolic of Bruce making the journey, and expected that it would return and also be buried at Melrose Abby.
``They stopped first at Sluys in Flanders where they stayed 12 days, entertaining lavishly on gold and silver plate on board their ship and inviting all who wished to fight in the Holy Land to come along. There were rough seas between them and the Mediterranean.''Were they already planning to go to Seville without any previous direct invitation from King Alfonso to fight the Moors? There are versions of this story that Alfonso sent them an invitation. If Bruce had asked them to take his heart into battle, maybe this was their plan and not to actually go to Jerusalem, where there were no battles raging there since its fall in 1291.
Let us continue by paraphrasing RMS.
But there was a gathering of knights from all over Europe at Seville prompted by a general invitation from King Alfonso. Perhaps the death of Bruce was seen as the catalyst for an all out battle to expell the Moors. When they were at Sluys, Flanders, they invited men to join with them. Perhaps there were a number that would not commit to go to battle in Jerusalem a place few returned from, but a nearer battlefield in a Christian country, easily accessible and where the supply lines were assured, appealed to a larger group. Then the decision was made to only go to Seville. Or it could have been go to Seville and then we'll decide after that whether to go on to Jerusalem.
When they arrived Alfonso XI (1312-1350), King of Castile, and numerous other foreign and English knights who were already there came to welcome them. So they rested there awhile. Then in March the Moorish King of Granada, Muhammad IV (1325-1333), threatened the city. Alfonso brought out the troops asking Douglas to lead them. On March 25th, at Zebas de Ardales, the armies came face to face.
That is the story as Ronald McNair Scott tells it. Now let us speculate.
It is possible that the Moors laid siege for a couple of months before Douglas' last crazy charge in Aug. 25th. Maybe the news got back to Scotland on Sept. 8th or Douglas' charge was in March, then it took time for wounded people to heal, boil the bones, bury the flesh, load the ships sail slowly, stopping at ports to let people grieve, and got back to Scotland on Aug. 25th. Then they buried Douglas' bones or Robert's casket on Sept. 8th. I am suspicious of my timetable though, when RMS says they left in early Spring. The earliest in Spring one can leave is March 1st. (Did people ever think that Feb. was in the Spring? I wouldn't think so in Scotland?) Then 12 out the remaining 25 days were spent in Sluys; that leaves 13 days to beat against the storms down a long coast of France and Portugal. The Guadalquivir River is not far around the corner but still west of Gibraltar. Then it looks like about 25 miles up the River. Was that river navigable by these ships to Seville? I suppose it was or else Seville wouldn't have prospered so much.
Then it seems they were there at least a day before they began fighting. Does that sound reasonable to any of you? Perhaps they had a tail wind southward and it is OK. But an August arrival seems like a long time for the journey beginning in Spring.
Last changed: 00/05/28 15:53:51