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A Scottish King lost his heart to Málaga: The scenes Hollywood didn't show
09 September 2021 @ 19:48

“I GAVE YOU my heart, but the very next day you threw it away,” was the beyond-the-grave reproach Scotland's King Robert I never made to his right-hand man, Sir James Douglas, as far as we know – but who, in a roundabout way, did exactly that.

Angus MacFadyen played ‘Robert the Bruce’ in Braveheart

Fans of Mel Gibson, of Scottish culture and history, or both – and those who just love a good battle on screen – may or may not be aware of what links their favourite epic, Braveheart, with the province of Málaga.

Long before Hollywood was invented, or the American continent even known about to anyone bar its native inhabitants, the original script of the blockbuster film was being written in real life; whether or not what eventually appeared in the cinema bore any resemblance is another matter and probably unknown, as none of the cast of the first version is alive to fact-check it for us.

Although if you were in Scotland at the beginning of the 14th century and you're reading this, we're sorry for making sweeping assumptions and would love to hear from you.

We'd primarily like you to clarify whether Mel Gibson's lead character, William Wallace, ever met King Robert I in person as the film claims, given that there's apparently no evidence their paths ever crossed in reality.

This said, we do know that the short sequel to the 'real' Braveheart never made the box-office, though. The bit where a soldier in the south of Spain wore someone else's heart on his sleeve – or rather, around his neck.


Body and soul disunited...and how Sir James got distracted

Robert I of Scotland did not bother with a referendum when he achieved independence for the region, which was a separate country from the rest of what we now know as the United Kingdom until the Union Act of May 1, 1707 joined it to England.

And on his death-bed, the monarch (played by Angus MacFadyen in the film) declared that he wanted his body to be buried in Scotland, and his heart in Jerusalem.

A statue of ‘Robert the Bruce’ near Stirling, Scotland (photo:

Sir James promised faithfully to the dying 'Robert the Bruce', as he was more popularly known, that he would carry out his wishes, and ordered the King's heart to be extracted from him posthumously and embalmed.

It was placed inside a large silver locket, which Sir James wore on a chain and vowed not to take off until he reached the Middle Eastern city.

‘Douglas Days’? All will be revealed shortly. Keep reading…(photo: Málaga provincial tourism board)

Getting there would take long months, and started with crossing the Channel between England and France, then heading down to Spain's far south and the port of Sevilla.

Sevilla does not have a coast, but it is sliced by the huge Guadalquivir river, which runs into the sea, so it does, indeed, have a port, and it was here that Sir James Douglas would be welcomed by Alfonso XI 'The Just', monarch and ruler of the Kingdom of Castilla – the western half of mainland Spain until the marriage of Queen Isabel I and King Fernando II, the 'Catholic monarchs', united the nation by joining Castilla with the eastern Kingdom of Aragón.

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