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Edward Bruce

The Bruce Wars, sometimes termed the Bruce Campaigns, was a three-year military campaign in Ireland from 1315 to 1318 by Edward Bruce, brother of Robert Bruce, king of Scotland.

After the Scottish victory at the Battle of Bannockburn (24th June 1314), Edward Bruce had been sent with a fleet to Ireland following a request from Gaelic lords for assistance against continuing incursions by the Anglo-Normans.   Edward was dispatched on the understanding that he would become king of Ireland, and Edward is often described as the last high king of Ireland. Ireland had close relations with Scotland, and many contemporaries including Robert Bruce, sought to seek an alliance between Scottish and Irish lords.

Edward and a Scots army, perhaps up to 6000 strong, landed at Larne in May 1315, and undertook campaigns over three years extending through Ulster, Louth, Meath, Kildare and the midlands as far south as Tipperary and as far west as Limerick.  Many Irish also joined Edwards force, hoping to overthrow Anglo-Norman rule in Ireland.

Edward’s campaign failed to hold the areas they conquered, and became unpopular due to pillaging and to the impacts of the pan-European Famine of 1315-17 as northern Europe experienced harsh winters, inclement weather, widespread crop failures and poor harvests. The campaign ended at the Battle of Faughart where Edward Bruce and his supporters were separated and wiped out in a close, bloody battle on 14 October.

Edwards's body was decapitated, eviscerated and divided in four.  As an excommunicate he could have no Christian burial but he was also to be displayed like a rebel.  His severed heart, hand and a quarter of his corpse were mounted on Dublin's walls while his head was delivered to Edward II during his parliament at York, and the king rewarded its bearer, the English commander John de Bermingham, with the earldom of Louth in Ireland.