During the Wars of Independence
In 1306, Robert the Bruce had met his arch-rival Comyn for the throne on the supposedly neutral territory of Greyfriars Kirk in Dumfries. The purpose of the meeting was to try and reach an agreement on the best way forward to achieve independence. They began to argue and this became heated and at some point Bruce drew a knife and stabbed Comyn to death. In the context of the time this was as grave a sin as a man could commit, and Bruce was excommunicated for his actions. As atonement for the sin Bruce asked that on his death his heart be removed and taken to the Holy Land on pilgrimage. Honouring his King’s last wish James Douglas (also known as the Black Douglas) set out with the heart in a lead casket around his neck for the Holy Land with a party of knights including a Menzies. At the time the Saracens occupied the Holy Land and had done so since 1292 so it was decided that it would be best to go to Spain first and help the Spanish against the Saracens.
Vil God I Zal
At the Battle of Teba de Ardales, Douglas and his party were drawn in by a feinting manoeuvre and found themselves surrounded by the Saracens. Douglas took the casket and threw it amongst the greatest number of Saracens and led a charge in to them. Menzies responded to the call with “Vil God I Zal” (With Gods will, I shall) and then entered the fray. The Scottish knights fought off the Saracens and recovered Bruce’s heart, which was eventually taken to Melrose Abbey.
The Crest is the head of the Saracen from whom Bruce’s heart was recovered; the motto being Menzies’ response to Black Douglas’s call to charge.