Monument to Sir James Douglas

At the top of the main street in Teba (Malaga) is the Plaza de España and here stands a large granite monument dedicated to the memory of Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, and his lieutenant Sir James Douglas. The monument was donated by the descendants of Sir James Douglas and the people of Melrose, Scotland.

Sir James Douglas was the son of William Lord of Douglas, who died a prisoner in the Tower of London, having been imprisoned at the orders of King Edward the First of England.

Sir James has gained fame as the redoubtable warrior who helped Robert the Bruce defeat Edward II and his English army at Bannockbum in 1314. He was known as 'Black Douglas' to the English. In Scotland he was known as 'Sir James the Good'.

When Robert the Bruce died in 1329, it was his dying wish that his heart should be taken on crusade in penance for his sins.  After his death, the King's heart was duly cut-out, embalmed and sealed in an enamelled silver casket. Sir James Douglas, who had accepted the task of bearing the Bruce's heart in battle against 'God's Foes,' took charge of the heart and is said to have worn in it on a chain round his neck.

In 1330, King Alfonso XI of Castile was setting out to lay siege to the castle of Teba on the frontier of the Moorish kingdom of Granada, ruled by Sultan Mohammed IV. Sir James Douglas arrived in Seville with a company of Scottish knights and offered his services to King Alfonso.The age of the crusades had ended thirty years before with the final expulsion of the Christians from the Holy Land and the Christian campaign against the Moors in Spain was the next best thing. 

During the siege, Douglas led his men in a brash attack against the Moors and, fighting against overwhelming numbers, the Scots were cut off and killed.  Legend has it that, as a last gesture,  Douglas threw the casket containing the heart of Robert the Bruce into the midst of the enemy and died fighting his way towards it.  It's a good story.  

The Scots poet John Barbour tells that the silver casket was retrieved after the battle by Douglas' men,  brought back to Scotland and buried in Melrose Abbey. King Robert had left instructions to his son, David II, that his heart should be buried there if possible. In 1996, during excavations at Melrose Abbey, archaeologists found a lead container containing traces of human tissue. It was believed to be the inner part of the Bruce casket. The remains were reburied in Melrose Abbey on June 22, 1998.    

Every year, usually in August or early September, the people of Teba celebrate the day of 'El Duglas'. A group of historical re-enactors, from Scotland known as the Strathleven Artizans, accompanied by Scottish musicians and pipers perform  at the Douglas monument.  There is a ceremony between the villagers and the visitors from Scotland and in the evening a Scottish style ceilidh led by The Midgies Ceilidh Band. See photographs of the event at www.facebook.com/strathleven.artizans and www.facebook.com/themidgies.  The square is also known as the Plaza de Duglas.