Robert II Keith, Marischal of Scotland

Sir Robert Keith (died 11 August 1332) was a Scottish knight, diplomat, and hereditary Marischal of Scotland who commanded forces loyal to Robert Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn.

Sir Robert Keith
Arms of Keith, Earl Marischal.svg
Arms of Keith, Earl Marischal:
Argent, on a chief gules, three palets or.
Died11 August 1332
Dupplin Moor, Scotland
AllegianceScotland Kingdom of Scotland
Commands heldScottish cavalry at Bannockburn
Battles/warsBattle of Inverurie
Battle of Bannockburn
Battle of Dupplin Moor
Other workDiplomat, again soldier

”Sir Robert Keith II, Keith Earl Marischals married Elizabeth Strachan, and had a son, Sir Robert Keith III (d. 1346) who married Elizabeth, the daughter of John Comyn, a potent man".[1]

Service before BannockburnEdit

Under Malcolm IV, the title Marischal of Scotland had been bestowed on Keith's ancestors, a title which became hereditary and was passed on from one Keith to the next. Robert Keith was the great-great-grandson of Hervey de Keith, great-grandson of Philip de Keith (d. c. 1225), paternal grandson of ... de Keith and son of William de Keith (d. c. 1293), all his predecessors as Marischals. He took up a military career as a young man, but was also considered by other Scottish barons to be something of a leader, being appointed justiciary of the lands beyond the River Forth.[2]

He was captured by the English in a skirmish near the River Cree in 1300, but was back in Scotland by 1308 and in March 1309 was present at Robert I of Scotland's first parliament at St Andrews.


Keith served as a relatively senior general with Bruce's army throughout the war, and, prior to the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, was appointed co-leader of a reconnoitering force sent out to gather information about the army of King Edward II of England. During the battle itself, he commanded about 500 Scottish cavalry,[3] although, like other Scottish knights, he may have fought dismounted.

Keith's force was drawn into combat with the English archers,[4] who had in the past and would in later battles inflict heavy losses among the Scottish infantry. Keith and his men, however, flanked the archers and routed them.

The battle was a decisive victory for the Scots, following which Bruce had undisputed military control of Scotland, excepting the Royal Burgh of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Later yearsEdit

Keith was among the Scottish magnates[5] who in 1320 signed a letter to the Pope vindicating Scottish independence. Afterward, he was given several diplomatic assignments, serving as a peace commissioner to England in 1323. He was also among the dignitaries who ratified the Treaty of Corbeil (1326) with the King of France.

He was killed fighting for King David II of Scotland at the Battle of Dupplin Moor.

Ancestors and descendantsEdit

Sir Robert Keith was the great-great-great-grandson of Hervey de Keith, the first Marischal of Scotland.

Keith's grandson and successor as Marischal, also named Robert Keith, was killed during the Battle of Neville's Cross in 1346. Keith's indirect descendants, eventually known as the Earls Marischal, held that title for several centuries to come. During the English Civil War, one of his descendants fought as a Royalist officer, and was imprisoned under Oliver Cromwell's regime.

Political offices
Preceded by
William Keith
Marischal of Scotland Succeeded by
Robert Keith
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Comyn, Earl of Buchan
Justiciar of Scotia
c. 1305–1306
with Reginald Cheyne (c. 1305–1306)
John de Vaux (c. 1305–1306)
William Inge (c. 1305–1306)
Succeeded by
Uncertain, next known was Robert Lauder of Quarrelwood

External linksEdit


Freedom's Sword, Peter Traquair