It is generally believed that the Declaration was written in Arbroath Abbey by Bernard of Kilwinning, then Chancellor of Scotland and Abbot of Arbroath, and sealed by fifty-one magnates and nobles, the letter is the sole survivor of three created at the time. The others were a letter from the King of Scots, Robert I, also known as Robert the Bruce, and a letter from four Scottish bishops which all made similar points.
The Declaration was part of a broader diplomatic campaign, which sought to assert Scotland's position as an independent kingdom, rather than its being a feudal land controlled by England's Norman kings, as well as lift the excommunication of Robert the Bruce. The pope had recognised Edward I of England's claim to overlordship of Scotland in 1305 and Bruce was excommunicated by the Pope for murdering John Comyn before the altar in Greyfriars Church in Dumfries in 1306.
The Pope heeded the arguments contained in the Declaration, influenced by the offer of support from the Scots for his long-desired crusade if they no longer had to fear English invasion. He exhorted Edward II in a letter to make peace with the Scots, but the following year was again persuaded by the English to take their side and issued six bulls to that effect. It was not until eight years later, on March 1st 1328, that the new English king, Edward III signed a peace treaty between Scotland and England, the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton. In this treaty, which was in effect for five years until 1333, Edward renounced all English claims to Scotland. Eight months later, in October 1328, the interdict on Scotland and the excommunication of its king were removed by the Pope.
Later, Scotland would of course join England in an act of Union of 1707. However, the Declaration of Arbroath would continue to have influence further afield. US Senate Resolution 155 of November 10th 1997 states that the the American Declaration of Independence was modeled on the document. However, although this influence is accepted by some historians, it is disputed by others. In 2016 the Declaration of Arbroath was placed on UNESCO's Memory of the World register.
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