Edward I and the Scottish Wars

In 1272 AD, a new king took the throne in England called Edward I (1272-1307), who became known as Edward the Longshanks.

Edward reinstituted Parliament in 1295 AD, and successfully conquered Wales, defating the Welsh leader Llywelyn the Great.

In order to placate and pacify the people of Wales, Edward promised to name his son after that country.

(Above) One of the greatest kings of England, Edward I, known as 'Longshanks'. Longshanks was a pious Christian who took part in a crusade against the Muslims overrunning the Holy Land. He made England a great and respected European power. Longshanks was greatly maligned by the grossly inaccurate film Braveheart, but to the English, he should be remembered as a great and mighty king.

He then produced his infant son, also called Edward, who had been born in Wales, and gave him the title of ‘Prince of Wales’, a title that has been used right up to the modern day.

Edward adopted the Welsh longbow, giving English armies superiority over assorted French and Scottish foes for hundreds of years.

Edward was also responsible for creating the official Coronation Chair, which has been used at the coronation of every English monarch ever since.

When the Scottish king, Alexander III, died in 1286, a struggle broke out in Scotland over succession to the throne.

King Edward I was invited to oversee the process of deciding a new Scottish King, putting John de Balliol on the throne.

The English army then invaded Scotland and intervened in the succession squabbles caused huge resentment, with even de Balliol rebelling against Edward I.

Scottish resistance was soon destroyed and Scotland was put under direct English military occupation.

(Above) The Battle of Stirling Bridge, where the Scots inflicted a crushing defeat on the English in 1297. It was not, however, a set-piece battle as portrayed in the Hollywood film Braveheart, but an ambush of the English army as they were crossing the bridge leading into Stirling.

In 1297 AD, a Scottish nobleman called William Wallace led a huge revolt against the English and managed to defeat a major English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

The English then reorganised and struck back, defeating William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298.

The Scots were forced to adopt guerrilla tactics against the English occupiers, but Wallace was betrayed by some Scottish nobles and handed him over to the English, who took him to London, where he was executed.

In 1306, Robert the Bruce was crowned king of Scotland and became leader of the Scottish resistance.

(Above) William Wallace, the great national hero of Scotland, who led a revolt against the occupying English army, but was ultimately defeated. Contrary to the Hollywood fictional work 'Braveheart', Wallace was a lowland Scot and a member of the nobility, not a commoner from the Highlands. After the crushing defeat at Falkirk, Wallace gave up his title as guardian of Scotland and for the next few years was only seen fleetingly in several skirmishes, never heading up the battles. Finally, after evading capture for almost seven years, William Wallace was eventually discovered and turned over to king Edward I by a Scottish double agent. After being taken to Westminster Hall, a trial was brought against him for treason and atrocities against civilians. In reality, not that much is actually known about the real William Wallace. All that is known of his life and his war against England comes from a late-15th-century epic poem by Blind Harry.

Robert the Bruce renewed the struggle against the English, but was defeated numerous times.

It was during this time that, while hiding out, he watched a spider spin its web.

The spider kept going, despite failing many times, and this gave Robert heart to carry on.

Edward Longshanks died in 1307 on his way with an army to subjugate Scotland once again.

The new king of England, Edward II, then decided to abandon the English occupation of Scotland, but Robert the Bruce led a guerrilla war against the remaining English garrisons and the pro-English Scottish nobility.

Robert was so successful that he even invaded northern England itself.

(Above) Robert the Bruce, national hero of Scotland. The Bruce, as he was known, suffered defeat after defeat, but kept bouncing back and eventually achieved victory. A true example of tenacity and perseverance. 

Roused into action, the weak English king then led an army into Scotland but suffered a catastrophic defeat.

It was many years before the conflict between the English and the Scots finally ended with the Treaty of Northampton in 1328 AD.

New conflagrations soon broke out however, and the English launched more invasions of Scotland, occupying the southern low-land area of the country.

Scotland was marked throughout the 1300’s by internal bickering and factionalism, almost always violent.

Finally, a Scottish king called James IV managed to unite the Scots and drive the English out.

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