Heartless Jerusalem

October 10, 2006 10:36

Though Scotland today is an integral part of Britain - together with Wales, Northern Ireland and England, the country was once independent. Among its greatest heroes was Robert the Bruce (1274-1329), who reigned as king from 1306 to his death - and appears in Mel Gibson's 1995 movie Braveheart. Of mixed Scoto-Norman ancestry, Robert the Bruce led his country during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England. King Robert's body is buried in Dunfermline Abbey in Fife. Before he died, the king made it his last request that Sir James Douglas - known as the Black Douglas - his oldest and most esteemed companion in arms, should carry his heart to the Holy Land and deposit it in the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The king's embalmed organ was placed in a silver and enameled casket which Douglas wore around his neck. Early in 1330, he set sail from Scotland with six other knights and 26 squires on a Crusade to Moorish Spain, where he was killed in battle. According to legend, Robert the Bruce's heart was later recovered, taken back to Scotland and buried at Melrose Abbey in Roxburghshire.

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