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 Robert the Bruce in The Outlaw King

The Untold True Story of Robert the Bruce, The Outlaw King

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Braveheart is a 1995 epic war movie directed by Mel Gibson, who stars as the legendary late 13th-century Scottish rebel warrior, William Wallace, who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. Having grossed $210.4 million worldwide it has set a pretty high bar, but now Netflix original are releasing their own movie  Outlaw King and critics are promising it to be a ‘streaming’ blockbuster.

Outlaw King will be featured as the Opening Night Film at the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, September 6, 2018 and in November, Netflix subscribers all over the world will be able to immerse themselves in full-on Scottish history extravaganza, from the comforts of their couch, according to a report on Movie Web.

Robert The Bruce, the Outlaw King

According to BBC History, Robert the Bruce was born on 11 July 1274 into an aristocratic Scottish family, distantly related to the Scottish royal family. In 1306, Bruce quarreled with his competitor to the throne, John Comyn, and having stabbed him in a church in Dumfries in Scotland, he was outlawed by King Edward and excommunicated by the pope. This is where actor Chris Pine steps in.

You might know him as Star Trek’s Captain James T. Kirk or maybe as DS’s Steve Trevor, either way it is Pine who is playing the real-life hero Robert the Bruce. David Mackenzie's  Outlaw King, is launching globally on Netflix November 9, timed perfectly to target stuffed, post-dinner families during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Back to the real story of the Outlaw King. Bruce proclaimed his right to the throne and on 27 March 1306, was crowned king on Moot Hill at Scone Abbey in Perthshire . The following year his wife and daughters were imprisoned and three of his brothers were brutally executed forcing the Bruce into hiding. This is the moment in Robert the Bruce’s life when he becomes a true Outlaw King.

Statue of Robert the Bruce at Stirling Castle

Statue of Robert the Bruce at Stirling Castle (Javier Noval / flickr)

Robert The Bruce Takes on The English

Robert waged a series of successful guerrilla attacks of the English and at the Battle of Bannockburn in June 1314 he defeated a much larger English army under Edward II, re-establishing an independent Scottish monarchy. The original Mel Gibson Braveheart movie came to a close right here, after the Battle of Bannockburn, but it is not yet known where the new Netflix movie will end. They might have decided to follow the story of the Bruce and his family in the years preceding this legendary battle. If so:

Even after Bannockburn, Edward II refused to give up his claim to the overlordship of Scotland and managed a network of spies in Scotland. In 1320 AD leading Scottish earls, barons and the 'community of the realm' drafted the 'Declaration of Arbroath' reasserting the antiquity of the Scottish people and their monarchy and sent it to Pope John XXII. Having declared Robert the Bruce to be their rightful monarch, four years later, Robert received papal recognition as king of an independent Scotland.

Actors Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh and Billy Howle join star Chris Pine in Outlaw King. It is filmed in Scotland but it not yet known if they will feature in a true to life rendition of the Bruce’s life or not. If so, they will have recreated a scene depicting events on 7 June 1329 when Robert the Bruce came to pass.

The Battle of Bannockburn

The Battle of Bannockburn (public domain)

The King’s Heart

He was buried at Dunfermline in Scotland and famously requested that his heart be taken to the Holy Land, but it only got as far as Spain before an army of Moorish knights attacked the Scottish knights. The Bruce’s heart was saved and along with the brave knights who attempted to take it to the burial place of Christ in Jerusalem, it was returned to Scotland and buried in Melrose Abbey.

The tombstone over Robert The Bruce's buried heart

The tombstone over Robert The Bruce's buried heart (CC by SA 2.0)

Netflix streaming services have provided a trailer which puts Chris Pine on horseback. Movie insiders say Pine is “done with his time as James T. Kirk in the Star Trek universe” so this will not only be a treat for Pine fans, but for history fans all over the world who get to see a medieval Scottish legend brought to life, in  Outlaw King.

Top image: Robert the Bruce in The Outlaw King. Credit:

By Ashley Cowie

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Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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