The Battle of Bannockburn.
During the Wars of Independence, Scotland struggled againt England, her closest neighbour, whose King saw it as his right to rule and dominate the entire island we now call Great Britain.
At the time Scotland was not in itself a recognised and individual 'Kingdom'.
King Alexander III had died in a tragic accident, falling from his horse and leaving his daughter Margaret as heir. The Bruce family claimed the throne as their right, as did the Baliol family. They had asked Edward I to decide which family had the stronger claim. Edward settled the matter by arranging for Margaret to marry his own son. Unfortunately Margaret died before the marriage took place.
Edward then declared John Baliol as King, but exerted such control over him that Baliol was later nicknamed 'Tomb Tabbard' or empty coat, rdfernce to his puppet-like status. Baliol rose against Edward but was taken prisoner. Edward made himself sovereign and forced the Scottish lords to swear fealty to him as their king. He biletted English troops in Scottish castles and employed a number of other ploys to ensure that few would stand against him.
Edward's authority in Scotland was challenged briefly and in 1297 his army was defeated at the battle of Stirling Bridge. Outmanoevred by the Scots who pounced while only part of his army had managed to cross the River Forth, it was the first time the English Heavy Cavalry had lost in battle. Edward quickly looked to other war tactics and returned to face the Scots again in 1298.
This time Edward deployed a new weapon, the longbow. The English archers could fire safely across far greater distances than their Scots counterparts, raining deadly blows to the Scots forces whose bowmen were unable to respond adequately. The Scots were not aided by divisions in the loyalties of landowners based in Scotland who were afraid of the penalties that would be imposed by Edward should the English be victorious. The Scots forces were defeated and Edward regained control of Scotland once more.
Edward I died in 1307 and was succedded by his son, Edward II.
Robert de Bruce, son of the man who had asked Edward to adjudicate after the death of Alexander, rose against Edward II. Robert's wife and daughter had been captured and imprisoned by the English for many years. His brother had been killed. Despite this and other initial setbacks in raising support, Robert persevered and gradually succeeded in raising an army that started to regain control of the Scottish strongholds.
By 1313 Robert had regained control of every castle in Scotland except Stirling and Berwick, which only recently had been the subject of a brutal massacre at the hands of Edward.
In the Battle of Bannockburn, King Robert commanded an army of only 9,000 yet achieved victory over an army quoted as being as many as 38,000 fighting on the side of King Edward II. It is generally accepted that the Scots were outnumbered by 3:1.
A key feature in The Bruce's victory was the use of schiltrons, introduced by William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk. Units of footsoldiers in tight groups wielded spears long enough to wound and fend off cavalry.
Guerrilla tactics also assisted in securing what has become an iconic victory in Scotland's history. The tactics allowed the Scottish forces to limit the effect of the numerically superior English cavalry.
By digging pits and ditches and strategically placing themselves between two marshy areas the Scots did not allow the English cavalry a wide front on which to fight. The narrow combat area made it easier for the outnumbered Scottish troops to repeatedly repel their opponents.
Henry de Boune charged at Robert, convinced of his chance of immortality. Robert dodged the blow and struck his own blow,
When the English army spotted what they thought was Scottish re-inforcements they fled. The re-inforcements were not military personnel, but non-militia camp attendants.
King Edward II
Edward II inherited his title (and enemies) from his father, Edward I
Edward I, commonly referred to as Longshanks, due to the length of his legs, had been a tactically brilliant and cruel ruler - achieving and maintaining his rule through brutal and savage means which divided and conquered the landowners and people of authority in Scotland.
After defeating the Scots at Dunbar in 1296 he stripped the Scots king, John Baliol, of his throne. He then travelled all over Scotland and had all the major figures in Scotland sign a declaration of loyalty, later to become known as the Ragman's Roll, accepting Edward as King of Scotland. By doing so he secured the international and religious backing required to 'govern' 'his people' with the licence afforded to a king 'legitimately' enforcing the rule of law on 'people'.
Effectively Edward 1 could then claim that anyone in Scotland rising against him was guilty of treason.