The Battle of Bannockburn
The Scots are proud of their history and heritage. And no time in their long history is more celebrated than the era of William Wallace, Robert de Bruce, and the Battle of Bannockburn. But what exactly did these men do? And why was Bannockburn important?
In 1286, King Alexander III of Scotland rode home from an all-night feast. In the darkness, he mistakenly rode off a cliff and was killed. The crown of Scotland would have gone to his granddaughter Margaret, but she died on her voyage to Scotland. Now the throne was vacant, and many competitors appeared to claim it. Robert de Bruce and John Baliol (among others) were both related to the late King of Scotland. But who would decide between the claimants? The Scots asked Edward I, King of England, to choose, because his son was supposed to marry Margaret. Edward I chose Baliol, because he had heard that Baliol would follow Edward’s will. Baliol was crowned, but argued when Edward demanded that Scottish subjects be tried in English courts. He was deposed and imprisoned in the Tower of London as Edward I declared himself King of Scotland.
Many of the Scots, including Robert de Bruce, submitted to the English dominion (especially when Edward rewarded them with land and gold), but some did not. Sir Malcolm Wallace fought them, and when he was killed, his son William Wallace continued the fight. Wallace inflicted a stinging defeat on the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, killing 5,000 English footsoldiers.
The Scottish resistance was becoming formidable, and Edward I marched into Scotland with an English army. He crushed Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk in 1297 and forced him into hiding. In 1305, Wallace was betrayed and sent to England, where he was tried and executed. But before he died, Robert de Bruce joined Wallace in the fight for Scottish independence.