AS we continue this long project to document the history of Glasgow, we come up against yet more instances so common to Scottish mediaeval history when we simply do not know what was happening all the time in the nation of Scotland.

We know that Glasgow was continuing to grow at the beginning of the 14th century and we know from royal and church documents about the town’s place in events, but specifics are hard to define simply because of a lack of direct evidence.

Nevertheless historians can draw conclusions from those sources which do survive, and there is no doubt that after Bannockburn the kingship of Robert the Bruce was vital for Glasgow.

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He had shown his concern for the town in 1309 when he ordered that all the lands and rights of Bishop Robert Wishart should be restored to him, even though the cleric was in an English prison. The Bruce did not forget his old friend who lived long enough to celebrate the Bruce’s victory at Bannockburn but died two years later.

There was a dispute about who would replace Wishart as the Bishop of Glasgow, but the vacancy was eventually filled by John de Lyndesay, or John Lindsay, after Pope John XXII had installed an Englishman, John de Egglescliffe, as head of the diocese.

This remained a time of great upheaval as Scotland and England were still technically at war. One of the problems that Scotland had was that the Pope was still against King Robert for his sacrilegious murder of John Comyn in 1306 on the holy ground of Greyfriars in Dumfries, and in 1320, the nobility of Scotland signed the Declaration of Arbroath which was a letter to the Pope expressing Scottish independence and support for the king, but only if he did not lay down to the English. There was no signatory from Glasgow itself, the Earl of Lennox and Walter Stewart, the 6th High Steward of Scotland, being the lords with lands nearest to the town who signed the most famous document in Scottish history.

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The Pope was impressed and though he later partly recanted his views, he did acknowledge Robert as an “illustrious king”. In the circumstances, De Egglescliffe simply could not become Bishop of Glasgow, and was eventually moved by the Pope to a diocese in Ireland with de Lyndesay getting Glasgow in 1323.

We know that King Robert visited Glasgow on several occasions, especially in July 1324 when he renewed the town’s charter dating from the reign of Alexander II in the 1220s. This basically gave Glasgow the same rights and privileges of a royal burgh though it would be many years later before Glasgow did become a royal burgh.

The king gave Glasgow more privileges in later charters and we know that he visited the town because in the latter half of the 1320s he made his home somewhere near Cardross further down the Clyde. The lands were donated to him by the Earl of Lennox and though the site of the royal residence is long lost, it may well have been near the River Leven at Renton in

what is now West Dunbartonshire, a mere 18 miles or so from Glasgow.

Bishop de Lyndesay was keeping Glasgow’s cause to the fore as one of those among the king’s circle of advisors, and he persuaded the king during a visit to Glasgow in 1328 to renew another charter that allowed the traders of Glasgow to pass freely to and from Argyll.

De Lyndesay almost certainly assisted in the preparation of a much more important document, namely the Treaty of Edinburgh/Northampton in 1328, in which England acknowledged the independence of Scotland, even promising the return of the Stone of Destiny – that didn’t happen until 668 years later in 1996, but hey, better late than never.

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The bishop may well have been present when Robert the Bruce died on June 7, 1329, in his western home. His internal organs – except his heart – were buried in the parish church of Cardross, St Serf’s, the ruins of which can be seen at Levengrove Park in Dumbarton.

David II, the five-year-old son of the late king, now became monarch and his youthfulness and the acquiescence of various nobles allowed Edward Balliol, the son of King John “Toom Tabard” Balliol to mount an attempt to seize the throne of Scotland, backed by the English nobility who contended that the Treaty of Edinburgh/Northampton was invalid.

Puzzlingly, Bishop de Lyndesay sided with Balliol, which meant that he, too, would have to accept the overlordship of Edward as “Lord Paramount”. After the defeats of Dupplin Moor in 1332 and Halidon Hill in 1333, the loyal Scots had to endure Edward Balliol proclaiming himself king, but his grasp on the crown was shaky to say the least, and he had to take refuge in England.

In July 1335, Edward III invaded Scotland by Carlisle, while Edward Balliol invaded by Berwick-upon-Tweed. Their two forces wreaked havoc in the south of Scotland before meeting up at Glasgow before heading north to Perth.

The populace had plenty of warning of their coming and went into hiding so that Edward eventually had to head back

south, while at Dumbarton Castle, Sir Andrew Murray, son of the ally of Sir William Wallace, was named as Guardian of Scotland by those nobles still loyal to the Bruce king.

Bishop de Lyndesay, meanwhile, had renounced Balliol and may have been on his way to or from a visit to the Pope, Benedict XII, then residing at Avignon in France when he was captured on board a Flemish ship by English privateers. The Bishop was wounded, and there are two different accounts of what happened next – he either died of his wounds or starved himself to death while waiting on the ransom process to begin.

Though Murray restored Scotland’s status quo as ruled by David II in 1336, Glasgow was now without a leader, and that remained the case for a year or so almost certainly because in the confusion of the times, a direct election of a bishop was not always possible.

We do know that the clergy of Glasgow elected the diocesan archdeacon John Wishart as bishop and Pope Benedict XII confirmed this appointment in February 1337. Wishart died a year later and his name is now merely a footnote in Glasgow’s history.

Not so his successor who would change the face of the town. Find out about Bishop William Rae and what he did for Glasgow next week.