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27 Jul

Wars of Scottish Independence (1296 – 1328, 1332 – 1357)

The Wars of Scottish Independence were fought between Scotland and England from 1296 to 1328, and from 1332 to 1357 commonly referred, respectively, the First War of Scottish Independence and the Second War of Scottish Independence.

A portrait of Robert the Bruce

Robert the Bruce

The First War of Scottish Independence broke out in 1296 when King Edward I of England deposed the Scottish King, John Balliol and declared himself the ruler of Scotland. The Scots led by William Wallace defeated the English forces in the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and Wallace was named the Guardian of Scotland. Edward launched another campaign against the Scots and defeated the Scottish forces under the command of William Wallace in the Battle of Falkirk one year later. William Wallace managed to escape but he was captured and executed by the English in 1305. However, Edward was not able to complete the subjugation of Scotland. The revolt against Edward I of England was taken over by Robert the Bruce who had himself crowned King of Scotland in 1306. Robert was forced to leave Scotland after being defeated by the English at Methven in 1306 but he returned and defeated the English forces, while Edward I died before he managed to launch another campaign in Scotland. His successor Edward II was not able to proceed his father’s policy and Robert the Bruce consolidated his position in Scotland. After deposition and assassination of Edward II in 1327 Robert invaded northern England and forced Isabella and her lover Earl Mortimer of March to sign the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton in 1328 that recognized Scottish independence and him as its king.

The Second War of Scottish Independence started with an invasion by a group of Scottish nobles in Scotland in 1332. They were led by Edward Balliol and had support of Edward III of England. The group was fighting on the English side in the First War of Scottish Independence and for that reason Robert the Bruce took their titles and land. In addition, Edward Balliol claimed the Scottish throne as son of John Balliol. Balliol’s forces severely defeated the Scots in the Battle of Dupplin Moor in 1332 and Edward Balliol had himself crowned King of Scots. Assisted by the English, Balliol laid siege to Berwick in 1333. The attempt to free the city by Sir Archibald Douglas, Guardian of minor David II who succeeded his father Robert the Bruce in 1329, has failed. His forces were severely defeated in the Battle of Halidon Hill in July in 1333 and Douglas was killed in the battle. David II fled to France and Berwick was captured by Edward III. The war continued despite David’s absence. The English pressure on Scotland subsided after the outbreak of the Hundred Years’ War in 1337 and David II was able to return in 1341. On appeal of Philip VI of France, David II personally led the Scottish forces to invade England but they were defeated by the English in the Battle of Neville’s Cross, while David was captured and imprisoned. The war continued until Edward Balliol gave up his claims to the Scottish throne in 1356. David II was released from the English captivity against enormous ransom one year later which ended the Second War of Scottish Independence.

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