New Age History and Economics

The Day We See The Truth And Cease To Speak it, Is The Day We Begin To Die. MLK Jr.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Scotland's Victory over England - Battle of Bannockburn Robert the Bruce

Common misconception;
England and Britain, UK and one and same.
The truth;
England + Scotland + Wales = Great Britain
Great Britain + Northern Ireland = UK (United Kingdom)

The long subjugation of Scotland by England and the wars of independence by Scotland have long and tenacious history. Here is the most famous of them all. The Battle of Bannockburn 24th June 1314.

You have read the background at Part I here

The Battle of Bannockburn 24th June 1314. Part II

September 1306: Edward I again marched north. Bruce's queen, Elizabeth, his daughter Marjorie, his sisters Christina and Mary, and Isabella MacDuff were captured in a sanctuary at Tain, and sent to harsh imprisonment, which included Mary and Isabella being hung in a cage at Roxburgh and Berwick castles respectively for four years, and Bruce's brother Neil was executed. Robert was like a persistent spider mending its web in a cave.

10 May 1307: At the Battle of Loudoun Hill in Ayrshire, Robert the Bruce defeats forces loyal to the English.

7 July 1307: King Edward I of England dies.

Friday, 13 October 1307: Pope issues decree against Knights Templar. All over the sphere, Knights Templar’s were rounded up and burned at stakes. Many escaped and headed to Argyll and Firth of Forth. They knew Robert the Bruce was excommunicated by the pope and hence decree of Pope will have no effect there. Alos St Clair a Knight Templar himself had links in Roslin. Hence Templar’s made Scotland their sanctuary. They lend military support to Robert the Bruce.

November 1307: Robert the Bruce secures his power base by taking castles at Urquhart and Balvenie.

1307 to 1314: From 1307 onwards, with energy and determination, Robert waged highly successful guerrilla warfare against the English occupiers, establishing control north of the Forth, and gradually won back his kingdom; The English castles while a powerful mechanism for dominating occupied country with garrisons of small groups of armed knights and men had a major weakness which lay in its day to day security.  During their campaign against the occupying English the Scots became masters of the art of taking fortifications by trick and surprise.  A standard piece of kit for the Scots, which they perfected, was the scaling ladder.  There were rarely enough men in a castle to watch the length of the fortifications fully and inevitably there were periods when such watch as there was lapsed.  Approaching with stealth the Scots would scale the walls and take the castle or town.  The classic was the capture of Edinburgh Castle on 14th March 1313 by Randolph Earl of Moray.  The castle watch actually looked over the wall at the point where the Scots were preparing to attack, before loudly moving on, leaving the Scots to scale the wall and open the gate to the waiting force, which then stormed the castle.
A particularly popular tale is the taking of Linlithgow Castle by William Bannock in September 1313.  Bannock drove up in a cart filled with fodder for the garrison’s horses and stopped the cart in the gateway thereby preventing the garrison from closing the gate.  Armed men leaped from beneath the fodder and, assisted by a band of men that rushed the gate, the castle was stormed.
As each castle or town was captured the fortifications built over many years by the English were destroyed so that the English could not re-establish their control of the country, even if the place was re-taken. By 1314, Stirling was the only castle in English hands.
In around February 1313 the brother of King Robert de Bruce, Edward de Bruce, began a siege of Stirling Castle.  In June 1313 de Mowbray put an offer to Edward de Bruce.  The offer was that if Stirling Castle was not relieved by Midsummer’s Day 1314, 24th June, de Mowbray would surrender the castle to de Bruce.  To comply with this requirement the relieving English army would need to be within 3 miles of the castle within 8 days of that date.

At the end of 1313 Edward II issued the summonses for his army to assemble.  The wording of these documents indicated that while the relief of Stirling Caste was the pretext, the intention was to re-conquer Scotland for the English Crown.

23rd June 1314: On 1st day of battle, An English knight, Henry de Bohun, saw the Scots king Robert the Bruce and turned his war-horse to charge. Robert de Bruce rode forward to meet de Bohun.  The contrast in their equipment was stark.  De Bohun was fully armoured with lance and shield and rode a heavy destrier horse.  De Bruce rode a light palfrey and was armed with sword and short axe.  He was mounted to command infantry not to take part in a heavy cavalry charge. De Bohun rode at de Bruce with lance couched.  De Bruce evaded de Bohun’s lance point and as the Anglo-Norman thundered past him Bruce stood up in his stirrups and brought his battle-axe crashing down on Henry, splitting his helm and his skull in two.

Following their king’s triumph the Scots infantry rushed on the English army struggling to clear the Bannockburn, where the ford had compelled the mass of horsemen to pack into a narrow column.  A terrible slaughter ensued, the English knights impeded by the shallow pits concealed with branches.  Among the extensive English casualties the Earl of Gloucester was wounded and unhorsed, being rescued from death or capture by his retainers.

After the engagement such of the English as had come through the ford re-crossed the Bannockburn and the Scots infantry returned to their positions in the forests of the New Park.  The English army had been convincingly repelled.  Robert de Bruce’s immediate lieutenants reproached him for the risk he had taken in giving de Bohun single combat and the King simply regretted his broken axe.

24 June 1314: English army under King Edward II sent to relieve Stirling Castle is defeated by Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn. Edward II only narrowly escapes with his life. It is the most notable single military victory in Scottish history over professional English Army whose larger army of 20,000 outnumbered Robert's forces by three to one.

The details;

Not long after daybreak on 24 June, the Scots spearmen began to move towards the English. Edward was surprised to see Robert's army emerge from the cover of the woods. As Bruce's army drew nearer, they paused and knelt in prayer. Edward is supposed to have said in surprise "They pray for mercy!" "For mercy, yes," one of his attendants replied, "But from God, not you. These men will conquer or die."

First off the mark was the Earl of Gloucester.  Edward had treated his suggestion of a day to recover from the previous day’s battle as cowardice and Gloucester intended to disprove this slur.  The English knights hurled themselves onto the Scottish spear line with a terrible crash.  The charge fell on Edward de Bruce’s schiltron.  Many of the English knights were killed in the impact: Gloucester, Sir Edmund de Mauley, Sir John Comyn, Sir Pain de Tiptoft, Sir Robert de Clifford among them.

Randolph’s and Douglas’s schiltrons came up on the left flank and attacked the unengaged English cavalry waiting to charge in support of the first line.
On the extreme English right flank the Welsh archers came into action causing a pause in the Scots attack until they were dispersed by Keith’s force of light horsemen.

Supporting the assault of the spearmen of the schiltrons the Scots archers poured volleys of arrows into the struggling English cavalry line as it was pushed back across the dry ground into the broken area of the Carse.
The Scots spearmen pressed forward against the increasingly exhausted and hemmed in English army. The cry went up “On them. On them. They fail. They fail.”

The final blow was the appearance of the ‘Small Folk’ believed to be Knights Templar’s who came in to support King Robert the Bruce. To the English army, close to exhaustion, this appeared to be a fresh reserve and they lost all hope. Panic spread.The English forces north of the Bannockburn broke into flight. Some tried to cross the River Forth where most drowned in the attempt. Others tried to get back across the Bannockburn, but as they ran, “tumbling one over the other” down the steep, slippery banks, a deadly crush ensued so that “men could pass dryshod upon the drowned bodies”. English army was totally and comprehensively routed.

King Edward II of England fled with his body guard and was taken to the gates of Stirling Castle.  Here de Mowbray urged the King not to take refuge in the castle as he would inevitably be taken prisoner when the castle was forced to surrender to the Scots.  Edward took this advice and with his retinue skirted around the battlefield and rode for Linlithgow.  He then rode to Dunbar and took boat to England.

The Earl of Hereford was exchanged for King Robert’s wife and daughter who had been held for a number of years by the English, Queen Mary in a cage on the wall of Roxburgh Castle, and some 12 other Scots prisoners held by Edward.

1315: Robert the Bruce invades Ireland and his brother is declared King.

1318: Robert the Bruce captures Berwick Castle.

6 April 1320: The Declaration of Arbroath, drafted by Bernard, Abbot of Arbroath, is addressed to the Pope in an effort to have him recognise Robert the Bruce as King of Scotland (and remove the excommunication that followed his murder of the Red Comyn in a church). It defines the relationship between the Scottish King and the Scots people.

1324: the Pope recognised Robert as king of an independent Scotland.

1327: The English deposed Edward II in favour of his son Edward III and peace was then made between Scotland and England with the treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, which began

17th March 1328: The Wars of Independence end with the Treaty of Edinburgh and Northampton and Scotland gains its freedom.

4th May 1328: Treaty of Edinburgh and Northampton is ratified by Edward III with England's total renunciation of all claims to superiority over Scotland.


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