Battle of Bannockburn

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The Battle of Bannockburn (June 23-24, 1314) was one of the decisive battles in Scottish history. Coming after many years of fighting, the cause of Scottish independence was secured and Robert the Bruce was firmly established on the Scottish throne when a heavily outnumbered Scottish force defeated an English army under the personal command of Edward II.

Background

In 1296, full scale war broke out between England and Scottish resistance forces over the English king Edward I's attempt to exert suzerainty over Scotland, formerly an independent country in its own right. Initial Scottish success under William Wallace was followed by a gradual decline in Scottish fortunes until, by 1306, a low ebb had been reached.

At that point, Robert Bruce asserted his right to the Scottish crown and began a long campaign to re-establish Scottish independence. Over the next decade, English forces were gradually restricted, though by no means defeated.

Siege of Stirling Castle

In 1313, Edward Bruce, the brother of Robert, began a siege of Stirling Castle, still under English control. In the chivalric spirit of the time, an agreement was reached with the commander of the Castle garrison to the effect that if the English were not to arrive in relief of the siege by the following Summer, the Castle would be surrendered.

As the date fixed for the surrender of the Castle approached, the English, under the command of Edward II in Edinburgh, then controlled by the English, assembled a massive, well-equipped force and set out to relieve the Castle. The besiegers would find themselves outnumbered by a ratio of between 3 and 4 to 1 in overall forces, and slightly more than that in heavy cavalry. Worse, the stage was set for a pitched battle, in contrast to the hit-and-run, guerrilla style tactics which had served Robert Bruce so well up to that point in time.

The day of the battle