It was this day 1320 that the Declaration of Arbroath was signed.
[Robert the Bruce, and not Edward like the Pope thought], too, divine providence, his right of succession according to or laws and customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent and assent of us all have made our Prince and King. To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought unto our people, we are bound both by law and by his merits that our freedom may be still maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand.

Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.
That's nothing but America talking, four hundred fifty-six years before she had the name.


Lars Walker said...

I like to think (though I'm sure some will disagree) that a lot of this tradition stems from old Viking law. If the book I translated ever gets published (they keep delaying it) you'll be able to read about the Norse Right of Resistance, by which the men of the Thing were not only permitted, but obligated, to remove any chieftain who overstepped the law and tried to make himself an autocrat.

Grim said...

I look forward to reading that. I know of Þorgnýr the Lawspeaker, of course, but I would love to know more about the tradition he was citing in his famous speech.