Monday, April 02, 2007

Throwing a Heart Against Islam

In 1329, King Robert the Bruce of Scots (1306-1329), on his death bed, insisted that after his death,his friend the 'Good Sir James' Douglas should cut out his heart and carry it in a casket on a pilgrimage to the holy lands. Douglas did as he was commanded and, in 1330, he, along with the Sinclairs of Roslin and Keith the Marishal with several other Lords of note, set sail for the holy lands.

Unfortunately they only got as far as southern Spain, where they became embroiled in the battle of Teba besieging the Moorish castle of the Star on behalf of their new found Spanish allies. During the battle the Moors feinted a retreat drawing Douglas and his knights into an ambush. The Spanish were wise to such tactics and did not follow Douglas into the trap. Somehow, Douglas was able to fight his way clear but turned back into the fray on seeing Sinclair encircled by the Moors and about to be slain.

Historians have debated as to why the Moors picked on Sinclair as a prime target rather than Douglas who was certainly the most important Scottish knight present. It appears the Moors, though an extremely intelligent society, were totally ignorant to the significance of western heraldry. They were used to fighting English knights with red crosses on their surcoats and shields and French knights with white crosses. So when Douglas came along with three stars on his coat this meant nothing to them, whereas Sinclair had a great black cross on his surcoat and shield. He must be a really important leader.

As Sinclair fell under many blows, Douglas, realising he too was about to die, tore the casket containing Bruce's heart from around his neck and threw it at the Moors, following his king into battle for one last time.

Soon after, the Castle of the Star was taken by the Spanish/Scots forces. Both Douglas and Sinclairs's bodies were recovered, along with Bruce's heart which was taken home to Scotland and buried at Melrose Abbey where it remains to this day.


(We at The ChesterBelloc Mandate pray for the reconquista of Catholic Scotland. Perhaps King Robert de Bruce's heart will restore this once great Catholic nation)

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