Scottish Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Arbroath (sometimes called the Declaration of Independence) is one of the great icons of Scotland and is in the form of a letter (in Latin) to the Pope from several earls and barons of Scotland asking him in rousing terms to acknowledge Scotland as an independent nation and to reject the claims of the English king. The Declaration of Arbroath is dated April 6th, 1320. The Declaration was ahead of its time as it sets out that the king (previously regarded as appointed by God) could be driven out if he did not uphold the freedom of the country. It later became a model for the American Declaration of Independence.

It sets out the long history of Scotland as an independent state and cleverly tries to persuade the Pope of the legitimacy of Scotland’s case. It’s most famous and most quoted passage (which I have framed in my study) is as follows:

“For so long as there shall but one hundred of us remain alive we will never give consent to subject ourselves to the dominion of the English. For it is not glory, it is not riches, neither is it honours, but it is freedom alone that we fight and contend for, which no honest man will lose but with his life.”

While the original Declaration was delivered to the Pope, a contemporary copy is held in Register House, Edinburgh. A translation of the full text is found here.

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