Today, let’s travel back to the 13th and 14th centuries, to learn about two great men in Scottish history.
William Wallace, born c. 1270, was a great hero of Scotland. William’s father also had opposed the English and, in the end, had lost his life for Scottish freedom. William Wallace met and married Marion Brad. But Marion was supposed to marry the Sheriff of Lanark’s son.
But Marion didn’t what to marry him because the Sheriff had killed her father and brother.
Now Wallace was a wanted man. William Wallace was able to gather a band of Scots who were ready to fight for the freedom of Scotland. The Sheriff and an English Captain Thorn, however, were on Wallace’s trail. While William was out with his men, the Sheriff of Lanark found Marion and killed her. That night, after Wallace had found his wife’s dead body, William and his men attacked Lanark, killed the whole English garrison even the Sheriff and Caption Thorn. Not one Scot was killed in the battle. Thus William Wallace’s battle for the independence of Scotland had begun.
William’s greatest victory was the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The English army, under the command of John de Wernne and Hugh de Cressingham, planned to cross the River Forth near Stirling Castle. But two men stood in their way, William Wallace and Andrew Moray. The odds were against the Scots; English- 200-300 cavalry + 10,000 foot soldiers; Scots-36 cavalry + 8,000 foot soldiers. On the morning of September 11, 1297 the battle began. The English sent their knights across first. The Scots spearmen ran down the hill and towards the English, cutting off the escapes route back across the bridge. Then the Scots attacked the trapped bowmen, knights, and foot soldiers. For one hour the Scottish slaughtered the English. The rest of the English fled leaving the hated Hugh de Cressingham dead. The Scottish had won a great victory.
In December of 1297 Wallace was knighted and was given the title The Guardian of Scotland. But Edward I chased William even more. Finely, on Aug. 5, 1305 he was arrested. William Wallace was hanged, beheaded, disemboweled, and quartered.
But the Scottish Wars were far from over. Before William had died he had given a knight, named Robert the Bruce, the title of Guardian of Scotland. But Robert also had rights to the Scottish throne. So on March 25, 1306 Robert the Bruce and his wife were crowned king and queen of Scotland. But soon King Edward herd about it and began chasing Robert. Robert and his men tired again and again to fight back but they were always defeated. It was during this time that the famous story of Bruce and the spider came about. Click here to read. Inspired by the spider, Bruce exclaimed,” I thank God! The spider has taught me a lesson. No more will I be discouraged!”
In this time, however, a new king, Edward II, was appointed to the throne.
Encouraged, Robert the Bruce set out and captured 90% of the castles ion Scotland. Finely Edward had had enough. He marched to Scotland with 100,000 soldiers. Robert the Bruce met him at Bannockburn with 30,000 men. On June 24, 1314 the battle began. As Robert was riding in the front of his men to encourage them, an English knight, Henry de Bohun, saw his chance. He rode at Robert with his lance aimed at Bruce’s heart, Robert rode towards Henry and at the last moment Robert severed his horse to the side and backhanded his axe into Henry’s head. Henry de Bohun was dead before he hit the ground, splitting in half. The Scottish army charged the English and completely destroyed them. One Scot fought it all the way to King Edward II, but was cut down before he could kill the English King. Edward II fled for his life. Despite Roberts close shave near death, his only regret was that he had broken his favorite axe. Finely in 1328 Scotland became an independent nation.
What do we learn from these men? To press on even in the face of difficulty and to never ever lose heart.