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Treaty of Edinburgh–Northampton


Treaty of Edinburgh–Northampton

The Treaty of Edinburgh–Northampton was a peace treaty, signed in 1328 between the Kingdoms of England and Scotland. It brought an end to the First War of Scottish Independence, which had begun with the English invasion of Scotland in 1296. The treaty was signed in Edinburgh by Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, on 17 March 1328, and was ratified by the English Parliament at Northampton on 1 May. The document was written in French, and is held by the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh.[1]

The terms of the treaty stipulated that, in exchange for £100,000 sterling, the English Crown would recognise:

  • The Kingdom of Scotland as fully independent;
  • Robert the Bruce, and his heirs and successors, as the rightful rulers;
  • The border between Scotland and England as that recognised under the reign of Alexander III (1249-1286).


  • The War 1
  • Negotiations 2
  • Terms 3
  • Effects 4
  • The Original 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7

The War

The cause of the Wars of Scottish Independence was ultimately the uncertainty over the succession of the Scottish crown following the death of Alexander III in 1286. Edward I of England initially supported the claim of John Balliol, who was crowned King of Scots in 1292, but eventually pressed his own claim to sovereignty over Scotland. After Balliol's removal and exile, Robert the Bruce broke from the English camp and took up his own rival claim to the crown, by leading a resistance to Edward. Robert declared himself King, after killing his chief rival and cousin, and was crowned in 1306. He decisively defeated the English, under Edward II, at Bannockburn in 1314.

Peace talks were held between 1321 and 1324. Little progress was made, as the English refused to recognise Robert the Bruce as King of Scots, although a truce was agreed in 1323, to last thirteen years.[1] Edward II claimed he adhered to this truce, but he allowed English privateers to attack Flemish vessels trading with Scotland. For example, privateers seized the Flemish vessel Pelarym, worth £2,000, and massacred all the Scots on board. Robert the Bruce demanded justice, but in vain, and so he renewed the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France, which was concluded 26 April 1326, at Corbeil. In 1327, the Scots invaded northern England and defeated the English at Stanhope in Weardale in County Durham. Before this, Bruce invaded Ulster in Ireland.


After the debacle of the Weardale campaign, the Dowager Queen Isabella, and Earl Mortimer of March, governing England on behalf of the underage Edward III of England, began to consider peace as the only remaining option. In October 1327 they sent envoys to Scotland to open negotiations. On 1 March 1328, at a Parliament at York, Edward III issued letters patent which set out the core of the agreement. On 17 March, the negotiations ended and a formal treaty was signed in the King's Chamber of the Abbey of Holyrood, Edinburgh. The Treaty was ratified by the English Parliament at Northampton on 3 May.[2]


Isabel and Mortimer agreed in the treaty that they, in the name of King Edward III, renounced all pretensions to sovereignty over Scotland. Joanna, the six-year-old sister of Edward III, was promised in marriage to the four-year-old David, the son of Robert Bruce, and the marriage duly took place on 17 July the same year. In the quitclaim of Edward III of 1 March 1328 preceding the treaty Edward endorsed that the Anglo–Scottish border would be maintained as it was in the reign of Alexander III of Scotland and that Scotland, so defined, "shall belong to our dearest ally and friend, the magnificent prince, Lord Robert, by God's grace illustrious King of Scotland, and to his heirs and successors, separate in all things from the kingdom of England, whole, free, and undisturbed in perpetuity, without any kind of subjection, service, claim or demand."[3] In return, the Scots would pay £100,000 sterling to England, which was raised by a special peace levy.[1]

As part of the treaty, Edward III agreed to return the Stone of Destiny to Scotland. This was not in the treaty, but was part of a concurrent agreement, and Edward III issued a royal writ 4 months later, on 1 July, addressed to the Abbot of Westminster, which acknowledged this agreement and ordered the Stone be taken to his mother — it was not.

Eventually (668 years later) it was returned to Scotland, arriving on 30 November 1996 at Edinburgh Castle. (But when next there is a coronation of a United Kingdom monarch, the stone is to be transported to England for use in the ceremony.)


The treaty lasted only five years. It was unpopular with many English nobles, who viewed it as humiliating. In 1333 it was overturned by Edward III, after he had begun his personal reign, and the Second War of Scottish Independence continued until a lasting peace was established in 1357.

The Original

The original treaty was written in French, with two copies made, top and bottom, on a single sheet. After the English and Scottish ambassadors verified that the copies were the same, it was cut in half across the middle with a wavy line, so that the two copies could be matched together if ever questioned. The kings did not actually sign the treaty, but signified their agreement by affixing their seals to straps that hang from the bottom of the document. (These wax seals have not survived the years, and are lost from the straps.) The bottom copy of the two originals is in the National Archives of Scotland, in Edinburgh.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Document of the Month - June: The Treaty of Edinburgh, 1328". The Scottish Government. Retrieved 2008-07-09. 
  2. ^ Magnusson, Magnus. (2000) Scotland: The Story of a Nation London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-257148-X
  3. ^ Ronald McNair Scott: Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, Hutchinson & Co 1982, p 222
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