Robert Bruce or Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale lived from about 1220 to 31 March 1295. He was one of the 13 competitors whose claims to become King of Scotland were adjudicated upon by Edward I of England in 1292, and was grandfather of King Robert the Bruce. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Robert Bruce was the eldest son of Robert Bruce, 4th Lord of Annandale and Isobel of Huntingdon. His lineage was important, for reasons explained below. Isobel of Huntingdon was the second daughter of David of Scotland, Earl of Huntingdon. He in turn was the son of Prince Henry of Scotland, Earl of Northumbria, who was the son of King David I of Scotland. Robert Bruce was therefore the great-great-grandson of King David I.
In 1233 Robert inherited his father's Scottish estates in Annandale, as well English estates in County Durham and Essex. He married twice, a process which led to his acquisition of further estates in Cumbria and Sussex. Robert played a central role in the vicious politics of both Scotland and England during the middle 1200s. He fought for Henry III on the losing side at the Battle of Lewes in 1264, and the following year supported Prince Edward during the final defeat of Simon de Montford at the Battle of Evesham. Robert acted as Regent of Scotland during part of the minority of his second cousin, Alexander III of Scotland, and for a period was himself seen as heir apparent to the Scottish throne.
The death of the seven year old Queen of Scotland, Margaret, Maid of Norway, on 26 September 1290, threw Scotland into a state of near civil war as rival candidates sought to gain control of the Scottish crown. Robert was a leading contender and was busily raising an army to support his claim when Edward I of England stepped in with an "offer" to help resolve the succession crisis. The competition which followed involved no fewer than 13 candidates with claims on the Scottish crown. It quickly became clear that the only realistic candidates were Robert Bruce and John Balliol, who could also trace succession back to King David I by his mother, Devorgilla, Lady of Galloway.
On 6 November 1292 the arbiters recommended in favour of John Balliol. Edward announced his acceptance of their recommendation in the Great Hall of Berwick Castle on 17 November 1292 and Balliol was crowned King of Scotland at Scone, on 30 November 1292 or St Andrew's Day. Edward wasted no time in proving that Balliol was his man, humiliating him and forcing him to do as he was told in governing what was now treated as little more than a province of England.
Robert Bruce withdrew from public life, resigning his titles and his claim on the Scottish throne in favour of his son Robert Bruce, 6th Lord of Annandale. Robert Bruce died at Lochmaben Castle in 1295, and was buried at Guisborough Priory in North Yorkshire. His son was never able to advance his own claims to the Crown of Scotland, but one of his grandsons became King Robert the Bruce while another, Edward Bruce, became High King of Ireland.