Sandra ChvojkováThe Battle of Bannockburn The renowned battle of Bannockburn took place in 1314,specifically from the 23rd until the 24th of June, in Bannockburn,Scotland.1 This was a crucial pointin Scottish history as their future independence and freedom depended on theoutcome. The English army led by an unfavourable king, Edward II, who was saidto be “out of step with the noble societyhe was expected to lead, for although he appeared to be a handsome warrior, hehad little taste for war.”2Scotland, however, fought for Robert Bruce, a great leader and commander, laterdescribed as a Scottish national hero3.
In this research paper, Iwill write about the history that led up to the battle, the battle itself and itsaftermath. The battle of Bannockburn was the resultof a tense relationship between England and Scotland caused by England takingaway Scotland’s independence. This started when Edward I “seized the opportunity to realize an ancient English dream, the unionof England and Scotland.”4This opportunity became available to Edward in 1286 when the adept Scottishking Alexander III died, and his granddaughter Margaret became heir to thethrone. King Edward arranged the Treaty of Brigham, so he could assemble themarriage of his own son, future Edward II to Margaret. Margaret, however, diedshortly after, therefor Edward was selected by Scottish nobles to choose theScottish King. The two main adepts to receive the crown were John Balliol and RobertBruce, both descendants of King David I.
Edward decided to choose John Balliol becausein return, Balliol acknowledged him as “superiorand direct lord of the Kingdom of Scotland.”5This made Balliol Edwards puppet and essentially took away Scotland’sindependence. The battle itself seemed to have anobvious ending with the English victorious, since theScots were so severely outnumbered. EdwardII had “mobilised a massive militarymachine:summoning2,000 horse and 25,000 infantry from England, Ireland and Wales. Althoughprobablyonly half the infantry turned up, it was by far the largest English army evertoinvadeScotland.
“6 On the otherhand, The Scottish army consisted of approximately 6000 soldiers,with a small cavalry unit.7 Even though all the oddswere against the outnumbered Scottish army, they won the battle of Bannockburn.What theScots lacked in numbers, they madeup in technique, using “schiltroms(massive spear formations), led by King Robert Bruce, his brother, Edward, andhis nephew, Sir Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray.
“8One of the elements that predicted the outcome of the battle was that theEnglish were “hampered by the ground onwhich they fought, as they could not manoeuvre.”9Amongst other contributing factors to the battles outcome was the fact that theScots had much higher morale and a greater reason to fight, as they fought fortheir freedom and independence in contrast to the English, who fought mainlyout of duty for a King they didn’t even trust and who wasn’t present in thebattle itself. Overall, the English didn’t obtain manyadvantages with overtaking Scotland as they did in Wales. It was very difficultfor the English military to establish itself in Scotland, especially in thehostile parts of the country, although “Ascore of English invasions in the halfcenturyafter1296 succeeded in establishing an uneasy military and administrative presencein the Lowlands.”10 But on the other hand the English didn’tcontrol the northern seas, nor could they dominate the north and west ofScotland. The whole campaign turned out to be a financial strain for theEnglish, rather than an avail. Even after Edwards humiliating defeathe refused to recognize Scottish independence. The Scottish nobles therefor decidedto send Pope John XXII a letter stating that Robert Bruce was their rightfulKing.
Robert received papal recognition four years later. 11A couple of years afterthe battle, King Edward II was forced to resign, due to a conspiracy againsthim led by his wife Isabella of France and on January 29, 1327, his son EdwardIII, aged 14, was crowned king of England. During the first four years of his reign,his mother and step father Roger Mortimer governed in his name. In the summerof 1327, he took part in an unsuccessful campaign against the Scots.12 This resulted in theformation of the treaty of Northampton, also known as Edinburgh (1328), recognizingKing Robert and surrendering the English claim to over lordship.
13 Sadly, King Robert didn’tget a chance to enjoy much peace as he died only a year after and his son Davidbecame the new King of Scots.14 The treaty, however, wasn’tabided by for very long anyway. Edward III had signed it under pressure fromhis mother and step father, but he quickly disowned it when he took personalcharge of the government in 1330. 15 This was followed byfurther conflict and tension between England and Scotland, such as invasions, borderraids, etc.
The Battle ofBannockburn was one chapter in a whole series of conflict between England andScotland. It was a battle that not only highlighted Edwards incompetence as a Kingand commander, but also proved the saying “quality over quantity” as correct.Even though England had a much larger army, they couldn’t overcome the Scots techniquesand high morale. Though the battle itself didn’t directly result in Scotland receivingits independence back, it showed the English exactly how capable, dedicated andfierce the Scots were.1 Castelow,Ellen.
“The Battle of Bannockburn.” Historic UK. Accessed December22, 2017.http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryMagazine/DestinationsUK/The-Battle-of-Bannockburn/.
2 Rigby,S. H., ed. “A Companion to Britain in the Later Middle Ages.” 2003,220.3 Burns,William E. “A brief history of Great Britain.” 2010, 90.
4 Burns,William E. “A brief history of Great Britain.” 2010, 74.5 Burns,William E. “A brief history of Great Britain.” 2010, 74-75.6 “Scotland’sHistory – The Battle of Bannockburn.
” BBC. Accessed December 2017.http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/history/articles/battle_of_bannockburn/.
7 Ibid8 Ibid9 Historicscotland. “The Inventory of Historic Battlefields – Battle ofBannockburn.”http://data.historic-scotland.gov.uk/data/docs/battlefields/bannockburn_full.
pdf.10 Morgan,Kenneth O., ed. The Oxford history of Britain. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 1992.
196.11 “History- Robert the Bruce.” BBC. http://www.
bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/bruce_robert_the.shtml.12 Tout,Thomas Frederick, and J.R.
L. Highfield. “Edward III.” EncyclopædiaBritannica. March 30, 2017.
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Edward-III-king-of-England#ref244559.13 Morgan,Kenneth O., ed.
The Oxford history of Britain. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 1992. 196.
14 “Scottishwars of independence.” BBC. http://www.
shtml?loc=treaty.15 Morgan,Kenneth O., ed. The Oxford history of Britain. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 1992. 196.