To the most Holy Father and Lord in Christ, the Lord John, by divine providence Supreme
Pontiff of the Holy Roman and Universal Church, his humble and devout sons Duncan, Earl of
Fife, Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, Lord of Man and of Annandale, Patrick Dunbar, Earl
of March, Malise, Earl of Strathearn, Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, William, Earl of Ross,
Magnus, Earl of Caithness and Orkney, and William, Earl of Sutherland; Walter, Steward of
Scotland, William Soules, Butler of Scotland, James, Lord of Douglas, Roger Mowbray,
David, Lord of Brechin, David Graham, Ingram Umfraville, John Menteith, guardian of the
earldom of Menteith, Alexander Fraser, Gilbert Hay, Constable of Scotland, Robert Keith,
Marischal of Scotland, Henry St Clair, John Graham, David Lindsay, William Oliphant,
Patrick Graham, John Fenton, William Abernethy, David Wemyss, William Mushet, Fergus of
Ardrossan, Eustace Maxwell, William Ramsay, William Mowat, Alan Murray, Donald Campbell,
John Cameron, Reginald Cheyne, Alexander Seton, Andrew Leslie, and Alexander Straiton, and
the other barons and freeholders and the whole community of the realm of Scotland send all
manner of filial reverence, with devout kisses of his blessed feet.
Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we
find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread
renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars
of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes,
but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve
hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west
where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly
destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the
English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as
the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since.
In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal
stock, the line unbroken a single foreigner.
The high qualities and deserts of these people, were they not otherwise manifest, gain
glory enough from this: that the King of kings and Lord of lords, our Lord Jesus Christ,
after His Passion and Resurrection, called them, even though settled in the uttermost
parts of the earth, almost the first to His most holy faith. Nor would He have them
confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by the first of His Apostles -- by calling,
though second or third in rank -- the most gentle Saint Andrew, the Blessed Peter's
brother, and desired him to keep them under his protection as their patron forever.
The Most Holy Fathers your predecessors gave careful heed to these things and bestowed
many favours and numerous privileges on this same kingdom and people, as being the special
charge of the Blessed Peter's brother. Thus our nation under their protection did indeed
live in freedom and peace up to the time when that mighty prince the King of the English,
Edward, the father of the one who reigns today, when our kingdom had no head and our
people harboured no malice or treachery and were then unused to wars or invasions, came in
the guise of a friend and ally to harass them as an enemy. The deeds of cruelty, massacre,
violence, pillage, arson, imprisoning prelates, burning down monasteries, robbing and
killing monks and nuns, and yet other outrages without number which he committed against
our people, sparing neither age nor sex, religion nor rank, no one could describe nor
fully imagine unless he had seen them with his own eyes.
But from these countless evils we have been set free, by the help of Him Who though He
afflicts yet heals and restores, by our most tireless Prince, King and Lord, the Lord
Robert. He, that his people and his heritage might be delivered out of the hands of our
enemies, met toil and fatigue, hunger and peril, like another Macabaeus or Joshua and bore
them cheerfully. Him, too, divine providence, his right of succession according to or laws
and customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent and assent of us all
have made our Prince and King. To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought
unto our people, we are bound both by law and by his merits that our freedom may be still
maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand.
Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject
to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out
as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was
well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never
will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor
riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom -- for that alone, which no
honest man gives up but with life itself.
Therefore it is, Reverend Father and Lord, that we beseech your Holiness with our most
earnest prayers and suppliant hearts, inasmuch as you will in your sincerity and goodness
consider all this, that, since with Him Whose vice-gerent on earth you are there is
neither weighing nor distinction of Jew and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman, you will look
with the eyes of a father on the troubles and privation brought by the English upon us and
upon the Church of God. May it please you to admonish and exhort the King of the English,
who ought to be satisfied with what belongs to him since England used once to be enough
for seven kings or more, to leave us Scots in peace, who live in this poor little
Scotland, beyond which there is no dwelling-place at all, and covet nothing but our own.
We are sincerely willing to do anything for him, having regard to our condition, that we
can, to win peace for ourselves.
This truly concerns you, Holy Father, since you see the savagery of the heathen raging
against the Christians, as the sins of Christians have indeed deserved, and the frontiers
of Christendom being pressed inward every day; and how much it will tarnish your
Holiness's memory if (which God forbid) the Church suffers eclipse or scandal in any
branch of it during your time, you must perceive. Then rouse the Christian princes who for
false reasons pretend that they cannot go to help of the Holy Land because of wars they
have on hand with their neighbours. The real reason that prevents them is that in making
war on their smaller neighbours they find quicker profit and weaker resistance. But how
cheerfully our Lord the King and we too would go there if the King of the English would
leave us in peace, He from Whom nothing is hidden well knows; and we profess and declare
it to you as the Vicar of Christ and to all Christendom.
But if your Holiness puts too much faith in the tales the English tell and will not
give sincere belief to all this, nor refrain from favouring them to our prejudice, then
the slaughter of bodies, the perdition of souls, and all the other misfortunes that will
follow, inflicted by them on us and by us on them, will, we believe, be surely laid by the
Most High to your charge.
To conclude, we are and shall ever be, as far as duty calls us, ready to do your will
in all things, as obedient sons to you as His Vicar; and to Him as the Supreme King and
Judge we commit the maintenance of our cause, csating our cares upon Him and firmly
trusting that He will inspire us with courage and bring our enemies to nought.
May the Most High preserve you to his Holy Church in holiness and health and grant you
length of days.
Given at the monastery of Arbroath in Scotland on the sixth day of the month of April
in the year of grace thirteen hundred and twenty and the fifteenth year of the reign of
our King aforesaid.
Endorsed: Letter directed to our Lord the Supreme Pontiff by the community of Scotland.
Additional names written on some of the seal tags: Alexander Lamberton, Edward Keith,
John Inchmartin, Thomas Menzies, John Durrant, Thomas Morham (and one illegible). Only 19
of the original 46 seal tags remain.