ROBERT THE BRUCE—THE STORY OF THE BATTLE
After the death of Bohun there was no more fighting
that day. All night long the two armies lay opposite
each other, and very early next morning both were astir.
The Scottish soldiers were formed in battle array, and
then they knelt to receive the blessing of a holy friar who
passed along their lines, his head and feet bare, and carry
ing a great crucifix in his hand.
‘ Think you, will these Scots fight ? ’ Edward had
asked one of his knights a short time before.
‘ Ay, that will they,’ was the reply, ‘ to the last.’
But now, seeing them kneel, Edward cried out, ‘ They
kneel, they kneel ; they ask for mercy.’
‘ They do, my liege,’ was the answer, ‘ but it is from
God, and not from us. Believe me, yonder men will win
the day or die upon the field.’
‘So be it, then,’ said Edward, ‘let us to the fight.’
Then the trumpets were sounded, and the battle began
in right good earnest.
The English arrows fell fast and thick till one would
have said it snowed. But Bruce knew these deadly arrows
of old, and was prepared for them. He sent a body of
horse to attack the archers, and they, having no weapons
except their bows and arrows, were soon scattered in flight.
As the English cavalry advanced, the horses fell into the
THE BATTLE OF BANNOCKBURN 177
pits prepared for them, stuck fast in the bogs, or were
lamed by the sharp iron spikes with which the field was
Soon all was terrible confusion. The English began
to waver. ‘ On them, on them, they fail ! ’ shouted the
Scots, and charged more fiercely than before.
At this moment, when the English were beginning to
feel themselves beaten. they saw what they thought was
a fresh army come over the Gillies’ Hill. Then they lost
all heart. The confusion became complete. They fled.
This new army was, however, no army, but only the
servants and camp followers who had grown tired of idly
watching the battle. So with sticks for weapons, and with
sheets tied upon tent poles for banners, they marched
down the hill to join the fight.
The slaughter now became terrible, and the noise
terrific. Banners were trailed in the dust, maddened,
riderless horses rushed wildly through the flying ranks ;
broken armour and weapons strewed the ground. The
groans of the wounded and the dying mingled with the
clang of arms and the shouts of victory.
Many were slain upon the field, many fell over the
rocky banks of the Bannock burn, others were drowned
trying to cross the river Forth. Thirty thousand English
perished that day.
The King fled with the others. First he fled to
Stirling, but the Governor reminded him that there was
no safety there, for he had promised to deliver the castle
to the King of Scotland next day. So again Edward
turned and fled away. He was followed closely by
Douglas, but he reached Dunbar without being over
taken, and from there he escaped to Berwick in a fishing-
boat, and so at last, after many dangers, landed safely in
The English left so much spoil behind them that it
was said if the chariots, wagons, and wheeled carriages,
which were laden with stores and spoil, could have been
drawn up in a line, they would have reached for twenty
The Scots too made many prisoners. Bruce was far
more kind to these prisoners than was usually the case in
those wild days. Few, if any, were put to death, and
those of them who had friends were soon bought back.
For it was the custom then to ransom prisoners, that is,
to buy their freedom. As numbers of the prisoners were
knights and nobles, their friends paid such great sums of
money for them, that it was said Scotland grew rich in
To the noble dead, Bruce gave honourable burial
instead of chopping their limbs in pieces, and placing
them on the gateways and walls of castles throughout
the kingdom, as was too often the fashion.
Now, too, Bruce was able to buy back, or rather
exchange for English prisoners, his wife, daughter, and
sisters, and the other noble ladies who had been kept
in English prisons for eight years. So at last the Queen
was Queen indeed, and not a mere Queen of the May as
she had said so long ago.
By the battle of Bannockburn English power over
Scotland was completely broken. Scotland was free at
last. Robert the Bruce was seated firmly upon the
throne. Although dark days came again, although the
Kings of England again and again revived the old foolish
claim of being Scotland‘s ‘ overlord,’ the freedom of the
country was never more in real danger. So it is right
that we should remember and honour the name of Bruce,
as the name of Wallace. They stand together as the
preservers of Scottish freedom.
But first, if you want to come back to Scotland's History and Legends again, just add www.historyandlegends.com to your bookmarks or favorites now! Then you'll find it easy!
Also, please consider sharing our Scottish History and Legends website with your online friends.
Copyright © 2000-present Donald Urquhart. All Rights Reserved. Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners. Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of our legal disclaimer.