My little nephew asked me for some help in writing a prose version of the story of Robert Bruce and the Spider: the school had supplied a poem written by an anonymous poet, as reference. I read the poem and the poet indeed deserved to be anonymous. Naturally, I turned to the internet for information. Now, the internet offers many versions and I did my best to synthesise all of them. So here goes:
Robert I was a Scottish prince of mixed parentage (just as well, because same-sex marriages usually produced no offspring). His father Robert, (he had no number suffixed, as he was born before they started numbering all the Roberts in Scotland) was Anglo-French and his mother Marjorie, was Gaelic. Not much is known about Robert I’s youth except that he did not like his suffixed numeral. So after carefully watching Bruce Lee’s movies, he got his name registered as Robert the Bruce in the Scottish Gazette of 1290.
Around this time, England was ruled by a chap called Edward I. (As you would have guessed by now, he was the father of Edward II). He claimed ‘suzerainty’ over Scotland and wanted all Scots to swear ‘fealty’ to him; this was stoutly resisted by the Scots, mainly because they did not understand such archaic English. Meanwhile, Robert Bruce, claimed right to the Scottish throne as a direct descendant of David I. (This was easy, as it was early days of the Unique Identification Number system, UIN, — there was no reported case of David XXV, or Robert LX, for instance). The two engaged in negotiations to solve the differences, but communications broke down. Bruce conducted business in two languages (French and Gaelic) simultaneously and Edward construed this as double-speak; Edward insisted on speaking Queen’s English, but Bruce resented Mrs. Edward joining in official conversations.
Greater damage was done when Edward unilaterally appointed John Balliol as the King of Scotland. Balliol was Bruce’s Grandfather’s cousin-once-removed; Bruce wanted Balliol to be permanently removed (not just once). This got Bruce a lot of heartburn (not to be confused with Bannockburn, which he got later).
A series of battles with the English weakened Bruce, so he swore fealty to Edward. Since that met 50 % of Edward’s demands, he appointed Bruce and Comyn as joint guardians of Scotland. Bruce detested Comyn (who was a relative of the above-mentioned Balliol) so he killed him in 1305 inside the Dumfries Church. The local pastor, who was a vegetarian of sorts, was upset by this and he passed a resolution to excommunicate Bruce. Under the Scottish Law, this meant the confiscation of one’s cell phone. This was a loss of face for Bruce, who was used to sending e-mails to the Scottish rebels in Hebrides with a subscript “sent from my Blackberry”. So he appealed to the Bishop of Glasgow, who kindly granted him absolution. We are not sure what this meant; most historians agree that in a land where Scotch whisky was the currency, it could have meant that the Bishop assuaged his feelings by offering Absolut Vodka.
This angered Edward I, who again raised an army against Bruce. Bruce now toured Ireland to muster support against the common enemy, England. Many clans from Ulster responded as they were already members of the outlawed IRA (as distinct from the IRS, an extortion outfit sponsored by the US Govt.). This alliance was useful to harass Edward I for some time; but there wasn’t enough supply of Vodka to keep all the Ulsterians happy and the alliance was disbanded.
Bruce engaged the English in a series of battles, (six in all) where he attacked many castles. He destroyed most towers (set up by British Telecom and Vodafone) but usually ended up losing. Dispirited, he retired to some cave in Orkney. From there he tried to access the Worldwide Web, but connectivity was bad, considering the time it took to repair telecom towers in those days. Six times he tried web access through Microsoft browser IE 6, but failed. The seventh time, he used Mozilla Firefox and this connected him to the web and the Rebel network. This inspired him to rally the remaining rebels and attack the English a seventh time.
The seventh battle took place at Bannockburn in 1314 (not to be confused with heartburn, which we have already dealt with earlier). The Scots were outnumbered 5:1 in the battle, but the English commanders never really understood the numerical advantage. (You cannot blame them: Ratio Analysis was then an optional subject at the Sandhurst Military Academy and most cadets preferred to watch movies like ‘Braveheart’ and ‘Spiderman’ on the days when it was taught). The Scots decisively routed the English. That is when Bruce realized that the English King he defeated was not Edward I but Edward II (the former having died some years back). Obviously, the English UIN system had its flaws.
With his old enemy (Ted-I) dead, and the new one (Ted-II) defeated, Bruce became the King of all Scotland. This gave him complete control of all Scotch production plus distribution rights of Absolut Vodka in Scotland, Ulster and Southern Norway. This made him the greatest of all Scots.
PS: After Edward II lost Scotland there was a complete stoppage of Scotch supplies to England. This angered all right thinking Brits, including Queen Isabella (Mrs. Edward II). So she dethroned him in 1327 and got the Indian BPO company TCS to re-implement the UIN. This resulted in (You guessed it!) the installation of Edward III.
This then, is the concise history of Robert the Bruce. There never was any spider, only the worldwide web. This whole spider business was a criminal misuse of poetic license. A detailed version of this is available in Wikipedia: ‘Robert the Bruce’ (though “some parts may require authentication”).
PPS: My nephew recently re- located to a school nearer his house.