Robert The Bruce & the Spider

Bedtime Stories for Kids | Robert the BruceRobert The Bruce and the Spider 

Illustrated By: Jacob Below

OVER 700 YEARS AGO in 1306, Robert the Bruce was crowned the King of the Scots. Today if we see a first name of “Robert” and a last name of “Bruce,” we figure the name is “Robert Bruce.”  Not so, back in Scotland in those days - the king's name was “Robert the Bruce." 

In England, King Edward the First did not for one moment accept the coronation of Robert the Bruce. To him, Scotland should be part of England and he would do whatever it took to claim the land for the English crown. 

To squash his new opponent, Edward I sent a large army north. England had a far larger army.  For the outnumbered Scots, their only hope for independence lay with their new King, Robert the Bruce.

Robert the Bruce

In six battles, the English army fought the army of Robert the Bruce, and in six battles Robert the Bruce was defeated.  On the sixth battle, his entire army was driven out Scotland and forced to scatter.  Robert the Bruce's Queen had been taken captive by the English, his home castle was occupied by the English enemy, and his younger brother had been killed.  He was now hunted as an outlaw and forced to seek lowly places to hide in forests and caves. 

Cold and miserable, shivering on a rocky cave floor with a rainstorm pounding outside, Robert the Bruce dropped his head in his hands in despair.  How did he fall so far?  Why should he even try anymore?  

Robert the Bruce dropped his head in his hands in despair. 

Suddenly he noticed a spider.  The creature was hanging by a long silvery thread from the cave ceiling.  It was trying to swing itself to the other side of the wall, but time after time the little creature fell before hitting its mark as the thread was too short. Robert the Bruce counted six times the spider tried and failed. "Six times, too," thought Robert with misery, "have I fought against the English and failed." 

Yet the fugitive King continued to watch, fascinated.  He almost forgot his own hard times as the spider climbed yet again up the cave wall.  He simply couldn't take his eyes off the little creature. Would she fail again? He determined that if the spider were to swing a seventh time and fail, he would give up all for lost and leave Scotland behind forever.  But if she were to swing a seventh time and succeed in reaching the opposite wall, he'd rally his men one more time to wage battle with the enemy.    

He simply couldn't take his eyes off the little creature.  Would she fail again? 

The spider let herself down on her slender thread and got ready to swing again.  And this time, she reached the cave wall! Quickly fastening her thread on the opposite wall, the spider stretched it to form the first line of the web it was starting to weave.

Robert the Bruce was awash with hope and courage.  He stood up tall and declared, "I will try one more time!"  The king gathered the remnants of his scattered army and recounted to them the story of the spider.  Inspired by its courage, his men raced from village to village, calling the people to arms.  Scots far and wide answered the call and troops rushed in to join the new army of brave Scotsmen.

Robert the Bruce

Robert the Bruce led his gutsy soldiers into battle one more time and this time - like the spider - they won.  In the next few years more battles were fought and won, too, until the decisive Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, when the English army was routed and the soldiers fled to their ships and sailed all the way back to England.

This victory turned the tide.  Before long a new King of England took the throne, Edward II  He recognized the Scots as an independent people, their land as an independent nation, and Robert the Bruce as its rightful King. 

Robert the Bruce

To this very day, people in Scotland celebrate the story of Robert the Bruce.  They remember him for coming back after six defeats to bring his men together for a seventh time to fight for Scotland.  And they especially remember the spider in the cave who inspired him to keep on trying.





Posted in Europe, Scotland, STORIES FOR KIDS, World Tales.


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