Scotlands History

Bruce kills Red Comyn at Greyfriars Churchyard

On 10 February 1306 Robert the Bruce and John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, met at Greyfriars Kirk in Dumfries. There was no love lost between them. Bruce had called the meeting and the two left their swords outside as they entered the church.

A fight broke out before the high altar and Bruce stabbed Red Comyn.

When Bruce stepped from the church and told his men what had happened. Roger de Kirkpatrick said ‘You doubt. Ise mac siccar.’ – I make sure. Kirkpatrick walked into the kirk to be sure that red Comyn was dead. Comyn’s uncle was slain by Bruce’s supporter Sir Christopher Seton. 

It is impossible to know what really happened in Greyfriars Kirk that day. Chroniclers disagree and for hundreds of years historians have argued about what took place and why. Had Bruce planned to murder Comyn and seize the throne? Did Red Comyn draw his dagger first?

A letter from the English court to the Pope said that ‘Bruce rose against King Edward as a traitor, and murdered Sir John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, in the church of the Friars Minor in the town of Dumfries, at the high altar, because John would not assent to the treason which Bruce planned... to resume war.. and make himself king of Scotland.’

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