Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots

Michael Penman. Yale Univ., $45 (456p) ISBN 978-0-300-14872-5
In this meticulous biography, University of Stirling historian Penman uses extant records to trace the life of Robert the Bruce (1274–1329), one of the most romantic characters in Scottish history. Penman explores the paradox of cold-blooded ambition mixed with a devout faith; Robert had only a tenuous claim to the throne of Scotland and his political skill in uniting or quelling various rival factions is explained in detail. The Scots' victory against the English at Bannockburn is treated as another step in Robert's campaign to establish his crown, as he fought both the English king and rival claimants to the throne. William Wallace is also shown in a more historically-accurate light. Penman goes beyond war and politics, taking into account natural events such as crop failure and a pestilence that decimated cattle herds. His thorough research makes this an excellent reference; the same attention to detail, however, can make it difficult to keep track of the various families and generations. Nevertheless, Penman's book is a welcome scholarly treatment of Robert the Bruce, the man who kept Scotland independent and founded the Stewart dynasty. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 473 pages - 978-0-300-20928-0
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