The Sinclair family has played a major role in the history of Scotland. Its history is best viewed in the context of Scotland's own history and this timeline is intended to provide a passing reference to that history. This timeline is based upon the work of Duncan MacLeod of New Zealand, who has authorized its use here. It has been liberally edited for use at this site to include significant events dealing with the Sinclair family, which are highlighted in color, and to expand upon the original historical references. If you would like to learn how the grad students in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Canterbury, Christ Church, New Zealand, are spending their Friday evenings, be sure to look at Duncan's "Beer Seminars" page!


Declaration of Arbroath   |   The Scottish Wars of Independence

But first up, a wee joke: and then God created Scotland

     At the beginning of time God was discussing the creation of the world with the Angel Gabriel. Leaning back in His golden throne, He told him of His plans for Scotland.

     "Gabriel," said God, "I am going to give Scotland towering mountains and magnificent glens resplendent with purple heather. Red deer will roam the countryside, golden eagles will circle in the skies, salmon will leap in the crystal clear rivers and lochs, and the surrounding seas will team with fish. Agriculture will flourish and there will be a glorious coming together of water with barley to be known as whisky. Coal, oil, gas - all will be there. The Scots will be intelligent, innovative, industrious and......."

     "Wait a minute!" interrupted Gabriel. "Are you not being just a wee bit too generous to these Scots?"

     But the Almighty replied, "Ah, but here is the sad part - I haven't told you yet who their neighbours will be!"


A Timeline of Scottish History

80
Julius Agricola advances across the River Clyde fighting off bands of warring celts.
84
The celtic tribes unite under Calgacus, but he is killed (along with 10000 men) when he meets the Roman army at Ardoch.
296
The Pictish people were first mentioned in Roman literature. The name "Pict" is said to have come either from a latin word meaning "painted ones" or another meaning "fighter". Both of these accurately depicted the Pictish people.
360
Roman literature describes the tribe warring based in Ireland as the "Scots".
368
The Pict, Scot and Saxon tribes attack the Romans in London and plunder their treasures.
503
The Scots leave Ireland and build their kingdom of Dalriada in Argyll on the West coast of Scotland.
597
St. Columba died.
836
About the year 836 Alpin the last King of the Scots was killed in battle and the accession of his son Kenneth MacAlpin "King of Scots and Picts, " marked a new era in the history of Scotland. There is considerable divergence of opinion on the events of this period. Kenneth's capital was at Dunstaffnage in Argyll, but it was removed to Scone where he was crowned in 843 on the Stone of Scone which has served as coronation stone ever since. /PAS
843
Kenneth MacAlpin unites the Scots and Picts as one nation. This was the first step in creating a united Scotland, a process not completed until at least 1034 and perhaps much later. /PAS
1005
Malcolm II kills Kenneth III and becomes King.
1018
Malcolm II gains Lothian after defeating the Saxons at the Battle of Carham. Death of Owen-the-Bald, King of Strathclyde.
1034
Duncan, already ruler of Strathclyde, kills his grandfather Malcolm II and becomes King of a (largely) united Scotland.
1040
MacBeth kills Duncan and becomes King.
1057
Malcolm III (or Malcolm Canmore) kills MacBeth and becomes King. Malcolm reigned over Scotland for thirty-five years, an amazingly long reign in this period of history, and from his reign may be dated the rise of the Highland Clan System and the principal cause may be attributed to Malcolm's second wife Margaret, granddaughter of Edmund the Ironside, King of England, who had to flee from England and seek shelter at the Scottish Court. /PAS
1066
William the Conqueror invades England and the Norman conquest of the Saxons results. Accompanying William are St. Clair knights who spread across the island. /PAS
1096
Henry St. Clair accompanies Godefroi de Bouillon to the Holy Land during the 1st Crusades and is granted Rosslyn in "free heritage" by Malcolm III, King of Scotland. /PAS
1107
On the death of Edgar, Scotland becomes disunited. Alexander I becomes King of Scots, but David I becomes King in Lothian and Strathclyde.
1124
Unity was restored when, on Alexander's death, David becomes King of Scots. His reign is one of the most important in Scotland's history, extending Scottish borders to the River Tees, including all of Northumberland.
1156
Henry St. Clair appointed as Ambassador to England by King David I. /PAS
1162
The name Sinclair is of Norman origin from "Saint-Clair-sur-Elle" and was established in Scotland in 1162 when Henry St Clair of Roslin was granted lands in Lothian. /PAS
1260
William St. Clair, son of Henry, is born. /PAS
1280
Sir William Sinclair becomes guardian to the heir of Alexander III and gains the Barony of Rosslyn, near Edinburgh. /PAS
1295
Signing of the "Auld Alliance" between Scotland and France - one of the world's oldest mutual defence treaties.
1296
Annexation of Scotland by England. Scotland's Coronation Stone - the "Stone of Destiny" - was removed to Westminster Abbey (in London) by the English.
1297
A Scottish army under the command of William Wallace recaptures Stirling Castle from England's King Edward I at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Sir William Sinclair serves as one of Wallace's major commanders, along with the "Red Comyn" and Symon Frazer. Outmanned Scottish troops defeat Edward's 30,000 man army. (Right: William Wallace as portrayed in a stained glass window at the National Wallace Monument, Stirling, Scotland.) /PAS
1314
Sir Henry St. Clair fights alongside Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, at the Battle of Bannockburn. The Scots rout the English led by Edward II, leading to Scottish independence. /PAS
1320
The Declaration of Arbroath was drawn up to urge the Pope to recognise Scottish independence from England. Sir Henry St. Clair, who had fought with Bruce at Bannockburn, signs the Declaration along with other Scottish nobles. The Pope accepts the Declaration. /PAS
1330
Sir William St. Clair and his brother John, along with other Scottish knights, carry out Robert the Bruce's last wishes by carrying his heart to the Holy Land. Both are killed during the mission and their bodies returned to Scotland. /PAS
1345
Prince Henry Sinclair is born at Rosslyn Castle, near Edinburgh. /PAS
1358
Sir William Sinclair, Prince Henry's father, dies in battle while fighting the Lithuanians from a base in Prussia. /PAS
1366
Prince Henry is knighted. /PAS
1379
Prince Henry Sinclair installed as the Earl of Orkney and Lord of Shetland. The Orkney Earldom is obtained from King Haco VI of Norway. /PAS
1390
Prince Henry first meets Nicolo Zeno. Upon hearing that a ship has been wrecked, Prince Henry goes to the aid of the shipwrecked sailors, who are fair game for pillage at the time. Sinclair rescued the mariners and discovered they were Venetians. Their commander, Nicolo Zeno, was a brother of the most famous admiral of the time, Carlo Zeno. Sinclair hoped to dominate the northern seas, and promptly appointed Nicolo commander of his fleet. After Nicolo's death, his brother Antonio is appointed by Sinclair to replace him. /PAS
1393
The "Zeno Narrative" - documented correspondence between Antonio and Nicolo Zeno and their brother Carlo - tells of a survey to make a map of Greenland in about 1393; it was conducted by Nicolo Zeno, and later by Prince Henry's ships. This Zeno Map of the North proved to be the most accurate map in existence for the next 150 years. /PAS
1398
Prince Henry Sinclair sets sail for an expedition to the New World around April 1. His fleet consists of 13 little vessels, two of them driven by oars. The" Zeno Narrative" suggests he tried to land at Newfoundland but was driven off by natives, and then sailed into Chedabucto Bay. It is believed he dropped anchor on the first of June in Guysborough Harbor. /PAS
1399
After wintering in Nova Scotia, Prince Henry's vessels sail southwesterly, making land at Massachusetts. While exploring the new lands, Prince Henry's close friend Sir James Gunn dies. A memorial to his fallen friend is inscribed on a ledge in what is now Westford, Massachusetts, using punch holes to outline the shape of the fallen knight. In the twentieth century , the memorial comes to be known as "The Westford Knight." /PAS
1411
University of St. Andrews founded.
1446
William Sinclair, 3rd Earl of Orkney, builds the celebrated Rosslyn Chapel. /PAS
1451
University of Glasgow founded.
1455
William Sinclair, 3rd Earl of Orkney was granted the Earldom of Caithness. /PAS
1460
King James II was killed by an exploding canon during the siege of Roxburgh.
1470
Earl of Orkney and Caithness was compelled to resign Orkney to James III in exchange for the Castle of Ravenscraig in Fife. The King was jealous of the semi-royal chief of the Earldom of Orkney, which had been inherited by the Sinclairs from the Norse Sea-Kings. /PAS
1488
King James III was murdered after being accused of surrounding himself with evil advisors who encouraged him to bring Englishmen into Scottish affairs.
1494
University of Aberdeen founded.
1502
King Henry VII of England gave his daughter in marriage to James III of Scotland. This gave rise to the Union of the Crowns in 1603.
1512
Under the terms of a treaty with France (the "Auld Alliance") all Scottish citizens became French and vice versa.
1559
John Knox's sermon at Perth - regarded as the start of the Reformation in Scotland.
1582
University of Edinburgh founded.
1600
Scotland adopts Gregorian Calendar.
1603
James VI of Scotland become James I of England bringing about the Union of the Crowns.
1617
James (on his only return to Scotland) tactlessly lectures his countrymen on the "superiority of English civilisation".
1618
James imposes Bishops on the presbyterian Church of Scotland in an attempt to integrate it with the Church of England. This move was deeply unpopular with the Scots.
1625
Charles I becomes King on the death of his father. Although born in Scotland, Charles had no interest in the country and dealt with Scottish affairs with even less tact than his father causing discontent.
1637
Charles attempted to further anglicise the Church of Scotland by introducing a new prayerbook, which caused riots at St. Giles in Edinburgh. Jenny Geddes throws a stool in St. Giles in protest.
1638
Charles regarded protests against the prayerbook as treason, forcing Scots to choose between their church and the King. A "Covenant", swearing to resist these changes to the death, was signed in Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh. The covenant was accepted by hundreds if thousands of Scots.
1639
Charles calls a General Assembly, effectively abolishing the unpopular Scottish Bishops. Agreement is reached through the "Treaty of Berwick".
1640
Charles peace collapses; the Scots show force by marching on Newcastle.
1641
Having no realistic chance of opposing the Scots, Charles negotiates a truce at Ripon.
1642
Civil war breaks out in England. The Scottish Covenanters side with the English rebels who take power. The Earl of Montrose had sided with King Charles so civil strife also spilled into Scotland.
1651
While fighting in the army of King Charles II of Scotland against the forces of Oliver Cromwell, John Sinclair is taken prisoner. He is sent to America along with some 200 other prisoners of war as an indentured servant. /PAS
1658
After working off his indenture as a lumberjack in the northeastern parts of what would become the United States of America, John Sinclair (known in the New World as John Sinkler) settles in Exeter, New Hampshire, where he becomes a landowner. /PAS
1682
The National Library of Scotland was founded. Now one of the UK's copyright deposit libraries.
1692
The massacre of Glencoe. Clan Campbell siding with the King murders members of Clan McDonald.
1695
Bank of Scotland founded (still operating to this day).
1707
Act of Union is passed; Scotland formally united with England to form Great Britain.
1715
First Jacobite rebellion; Jacobites defeated at the Battle of Sheriffmuir.
1744
The world's first Golf Club (the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers) was founded.
1745
Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) returns to Scotland; Second Jacobite rebellion begins; Scottish victory at the Battle of Prestonpans; Jacobite Scottish army advance as far south as Derby but then retreat.
1746
Battle of Culloden (Jacobite Scots routed by the Government troops); Charles escapes to France; the wearing of the kilt was prohibited.
1768
The first edition of the "Encylopaedia Britannica" was published in Edinburgh by William Smellie
1770
The Clyde Trust was created to convert the River Clyde, which was at that time an insignficant river, into a major thoroughfare for maritime communications. This required a major programme of excavation and dredging.
1826
Scotland's first commercial railway was opened between Edinburgh and Dalkeith.
1843
Disruption of the Church of Scotland. 474 ministers signed the Deed of Demission and formed the Free Church of Scotland (the "Wee Free").
1860
Scotland hosted the first OpenGolf Championship.
1870
The firstRugby International was played between Scotland and England.
1872
The Scottish Football Assocation and Rangers Football Club were founded.
1879
Tay Bridge Disaster (bridge collapsed in storm taking train with it - enquiry revealed corners had been cut during construction to reduce costs).
1888
Celtic Football Club was founded.
1890
Forth Rail Bridge opened, it took six years to build.
1896
Opening of the Underground Railway (the "shooglie") in Glasgow. It remains the only underground in Scotland.
1915
Britain's worst train disaster took place near Gretna Green, south of Dumfries, killing 227 people.
1937
The largest ocean liner ever built, the Queen Elisabeth, was launched in Clydebank.
1941
Hitler's Deputy Rudolf Hess parachuted from a plane just south of Glasgow. His purpose remains one of the great enigmas of the war.
1943
More than 1000 people were killed over two days in Clydebank and Southern Glasgow during the only sustained German Luftwaffe attack on Scotland during the Second World War.
1950
Scottish Nationalists steal the "Stone of Destiny" from Westminster Abbey. This was Scotland's Coronation Stone, taken by the English in 1296. By tradition all British Monarchs have to be crowned while sitting on it. It was eventually recovered from Arbroath Abbey, although some claim this was a copy, and the original remains in Scotland.
1959
Scotland's first nuclear power station was opened at Chapelcross in Dumfriesshire.
1964
Forth Road Bridge opened by Her Majesty the Queen. It was the longest suspension bridge in Europe.
1965
Tay Road Bridge opened - for a short time the longest bridge in the world, at just over one mile.
1967
The Queen Elisabeth II (QE2) was launched in Clydebank. It was the last of the great clyde-built passenger liners.
1971
66 people were killed in Scotland's worst football disaster, when part of the stadium collapsed at Ranger's ground in Glasgow after a match with Celtic.
1975
The first oil was piped ashore from the North Sea at Peterhead.
1988
Scotland's worst terrorist incident occurred when a bomb exploded on board a Boeing 747 air liner on course from Frankfurt to New York. It crashed on the village of Lockerbie in Dumfriesshire, killing a total of 275 people, which represented all on board and a number on the ground.
1990
Scotland defeated England to win the Rugby "Grand Slam".
1996
A gunman kills 16 five-year-old chidren, their teacher and himself in the Primary School at Dunblane in Perthshire. This is the worst tragedy of its type in the U.K.

The Declaration of Arbroath


Arbroath Abbey     The Declaration of Arbroath, signed at Arbroath Abbey (right) in 1320 by numerous Scottish nobles including Sir Henry St. Clair, urged the Pope to accept Scottish independence from England. The stage was set for this bold move toward independence with the Scottish victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 in which Henry St. Clair served as one of Robert the Bruce's commanders. The Papacy was one of the most powerful forces in the world during this time and any effort by the Scots to attain independence required the Vatican's blessing. The Declaration uses powerful language, indicating that should the Pope refuse to accept the Scottish case for independence, the bloody Wars of Independence would continue with the resultant deaths as the responsibility of the Pope. The Pope accepted the Declaration, clearing the way - at least temporarily - for Scottish independence. Text of the Declaration follows. /PAS

     Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and,even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since. In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen of their own royal stock, the line unbroken by a single foreigner.

      The high qualities and deserts of these people, were they not otherwise manifest, gain glory enough from this: that the King of kings and Lord of lords, our Lord Jesus Christ, after His Passion and Resurrection, called them, even though settled in the uttermost parts of the earth, almost the first to His most holy faith. Nor would He have them confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by the first of His Apostles by calling-though second or third in rank - the most gentle Saint Andrew, the blessed Peter's brother, and desired him to keep them under his protection as their patron for ever.

     The Most Holy Fathers your predecessors gave careful heed to these things and bestowed many favours and numerous privileges on this same kingdom and people, as being the special charge of the Blessed Peter's brother, Thus our nation under their protection did indeed live in freedom and peace up to the time when that mighty prince the King of the English, Edward, the father of the one who reigns today, when our kingdom had no head and our people harboured no malice or treachery and were then un- used to wars or invasions, came in the guise of a friend and ally to harass them as ,in enemy. The deeds of cruelty, massacre, violence, pillage, arson, imprisoning prelates, burning down monasteries robbing and killing monks and nuns, and yet other outrages without number which he committed against our people, sparing neither age nor sex, religion nor rank, no one could describe nor fully imagine unless he had seen them with his own eyes.

     But from these countless evils we have been set free, by the help of Him who though He afflicts yet heals and restores, by our most tireless Prince, King ,and Lord, the Lord Robert. He, that his people and his heritage might be delivered out of the hands of our enemies, met toil and fatigue, hunger and peril, like another Maccabaeus or Joshua, and bore them cheer- fully. Him, too, divine providence, his right of succession according to our laws and customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent ,and assent of us all have made our Prince and King. To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought unto our people, we are bound both by law and by his merits that our freedom may be still maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand.

     Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom -for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with his life itself.

     Therefore it is, Reverend Father and Lord, that we beseech your Holiness with our most earnest prayers and suppliant hearts, inasmuch as you will in your sincerity and goodness consider all this, that, since with Him Whose vice-regent on earth you are there is neither weighing nor distinction of Jew and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman, you will look. with the eyes of a father on the troubles and privations brought by the English upon us and upon the Church of God. May it please you to admonish and exhort the King of the English, who ought to be satisfied with what belongs to him since England used once to be enough for seven kings or more ,to leave us Scots in peace, who live in this poor little Scotland, beyond which there is no dwelling place at all, and covet nothing but our own. We are sincerely willing to do anything for him, having regard to our condition, that we can, to win peace for ourselves.

     This truly concerns you, holy Father, since you see the savagery of the heathen raging against the Christians, as the sins of Christians have indeed deserved, and the frontiers of Christendom being pressed inward every day; and how much it will tarnish your Holiness's memory if (which God forbid) the Church suffers eclipse or scandal in any branch of it during your time, you must perceive. Then rouse the Christian princes who for false reasons pretend that they cannot go to the help of the Holy Land because of wars they have on hand with their neighbours. The real reason that prevents them is that in making war on their smaller neighbours they find quicker profit and weaker resistance. But how cheerfully our Lord the King and we too would go there if the King of the English would leave us in peace, He from Whom nothing is hidden well knows; and we profess and declare it to you as the Vicar of Christ and to all Christendom.

      But if your Holiness puts too much faith in the tales the English tell and will not give sincere belief to all this, nor refrain from favouring them to our prejudice, then the slaughter of bodies, the perdition of souls, and all the other misfortunes that will follow, inflicted by them on us and by us on them, will, we believe, be surely laid by the Most High to your charge.

      To conclude, we are and shall ever be, as far as any duty calls us, ready to do your will in all things, as obedient sons to you as His Vicar; and to Him as the Supreme King and judge, we commit the maintenance of our cause, casting our cares upon Him and firmly trusting that He will inspire us with courage and bring our enemies to nought.

      May the Most High preserve you to His Holy Church in holiness and health and grant you length of days.

      Given at the monastery of Arbroath in Scotland on the sixth day of the month of April in the year of grace thirteen hundred and twenty and the fifteenth year of the reign of our King aforesaid.


The Scottish Wars Of Independence


    The following history of the Scottish Wars of Independence was compiled from various posts to the alt.scottish.clans UseNet newsgroup by Ewan J Innes. /PAS

     In 1286, Alexander III, King of Scots, died when he fell off a cliff at Kinghorn in Fife while riding to see his wife on a stormy March night. The successor to the Scottish throne was his granddaughter Margaret (a sickly three year old girl, the daughter of the King of Norway and the late Margaret, Alexander's daughter). All of Alexander's other children having pre-deceased their father. The earls and other great magnates had accepted Margaret as the heir to the throne and arrangements were made to bring her to Scotland. In the meantime several Guardians were appointed to govern the realm in the Queen's absence. Discussions were held with Edward I of England to prevent any instability. Edward was very generous and kind, and after much diplomacy, a treaty was signed whereby the new queen was to marry Edward's own son, also Edward.

     Had this treaty ever taken effect who knows what would have happened to both England and Scotland. In the event, Margaret died in Orkney, never seeing her kingdom.

     After her death, Edward brought out his claims of overlordship of Scotland. This was based on a trawl through the records of every monastic house in England. He used the treaty of Falaise (where William the Lion had signed away Scotland) despite the fact that it had been canceled by the Quit-claim of Canterbury. Having been frustrated by the Guardians on the grounds that whether Scotland was subject to England was a matter for the king of Scots and not them. Edward therefore got every claimant to the throne to swear fealty to him for the realm of Scotland if he chose them.

     So, the situation is this. Margaret's death had left 13 claimants to the throne, although only 3 were worth looking at. Bruce, Balliol and Count Florence. This last claim was important as he claimed that Alexander had signed a paper whereby the succession went through him in the event of Alexander dying leaving no heirs. Unfortunately, he was unable to find the paper despite a lengthy adjournment. So we are left with the Bruce and Balliol claims. Bruce claimed through the second daughter of David earl of Huntingdon, while Balliol claimed through the elder daughter of the same man. Bruce argued that he was closer in line as he was the son of the second daughter while Balliol was only the grandson of the elder daughter. In the event, after much legal argument, the stronger claim won, that of Balliol. He was undoubtedly the rightful claimant to the throne whether or not he would make a good king.

     So, Balliol was crowned in 1292, and was faced with constant pressure from Edward to acknowledge him as his overlord. To Balliol's credit he refused to do so. In 1295, Edward gave the Scots an ultimatum. He wanted every man of rank to attend him on his forthcoming invasion of France. This was one step to far and the Scots instead signed a treaty of mutual aid with France. In consequence, Edward invaded Scotland instead.

     The invasion of 1296 saw the beginning of the wars of independence. Scotland would now be in almost constant conflict with England for the next 300 years. To put this in perspective it should be understood that the two nations had been on fairly friendly terms for the preceding century. Even when there was conflict it was fairly low key.

     Edward began his invasion at Berwick. The town was besieged and after a short struggle, the town was sacked and the inhabitants put to the sword, literally. A group of Flemish merchants were burnt to death in their guild hall at the express orders of Edward. The numbers of dead caused severe problems and they were ordered to be thrown into the sea, or into deep pits. The English army stayed at Berwick while a probe in force was sent towards Dunbar. There they routed the main Scottish army, back from raiding the north of England.

     After the defeat of the Scottish army, Edward went on a progress through Scotland. On the way, he took the Scottish piece of the true cross, the black rood, the Stone of Destiny (or at least what he was told was the stone!) and stripped Balliol of his heraldic arms. Having thus secured Scotland, he went south again.

     Why you may ask did the Scots not put up much of a fight? Well the simple answer to that is they hadn't fought a serious battle since 1235, when Alexander II subjugated Galloway. The last battle had been at Largs in 1265, but that wasn't really a battle being more of a skirmish on the shore with the Norwegians. In consequence the Scots were badly equipped to face Edward, and an English army which had fought many times on the continent. They were moreover badly equipped to deal with the heavy chivalric horse and archers which English armies were equipped with.

     Having subjugated Scotland, Edward now demanded that all nobles and landholders swear fealty to him at either Berwick or to their local justiciar or Sheriff. The names of all those who took this oath were then put on a list, this list is now known as the Ragman Rolls. One notable exception to this was the son of a Lanarkshire knight named Malcolm Wallace and his brother William.

     The Wallaces had probably come from Shropshire originally sometime during the twelfth century and had gained land in the parish of Paisley. There they were subject to the lordship of the Stewarts.

     The rising of Wallace in 1297, must be placed into some context. Wallace's standing and ability to operate required that he have support or at least no hostility from Sir James Stewart his lord. Moreover, as the son of a knight and possibly a minor landholder, he would have the ability to bring together some trained men for his struggle.

     It is commonly assumed that Wallace led a band of outlaws and common men. While there would undoubtedly have been many like this in his band, some of his exploits required trained men with horses. Moreover, it should be stated that Wallace was not alone in this struggle. In the north a young knight Sir Andrew Moray, was engaged in a widespread and highly effective campaign to rid the English from the north of Scotland. A campaign Wallace certainly was not involved in.

     After having cleared Scotland of the English, Wallace and Moray brought their armies together to face the next threat. A huge English army was being led north by the Earl of Surrey and the Edward's treasurer in Scotland Hugh Cressingham. The two armies met at Stirling Bridge where the English were routed. They were routed by an army predominantly of foot soldiers, a fact that shocked many both in Scotland and England as well as further afield.

     After this victory, Wallace and a severely wounded Moray were appointed Guardians of Scotland and promptly invaded England over the winter of 1297/8 causing widespread havoc. At some point around this time, Wallace was knighted. The only source for this is a reliable English one. The source states simply that one of the great nobles had knighted him. At the time, there were only three present in Scotland, the earls of Strathearn, Lennox and Carrick. It is from this evidence that the story has grown that it was the earl of Carrick, Robert Bruce who carried out the ceremony. However it is equally possible that Lennox or even Strathearn did it instead.

     A furious Edward marched north the next year, again with a huge army. Wallace (Moray died of wounds inflicted at Stirling Bridge) met him at Falkirk having burned most of Southern Scotland to try and starve Edward out. The Scots were hugely outnumbered but Wallace had no option but to fight it out. Despite initial success in beating off the English knights, Wallace had no way to fight back against the thousands of Welsh and English archers who poured arrows into the static Scots. After a long period of this, the English knights charged again and the Scots were wiped out. Wallace escaped the field, resigned the guardianship and went to France to the French court.

     In the meantime, the Scots had elected new guardians. Robert Bruce earl of Carrick (grandson of the Robert Bruce who had claimed the throne) and John Comyn lord of Badenoch and cousin of John Balliol. The two men could not work together often coming close to blows during meetings. Bruce was planning to marry Elizabeth de Burgh, a marriage which was being held up by Edward's displeasure at him. So, in 1302 Bruce resigned the guardianship, swore fealty to Edward (for the umpteenth time) and married.

     One of the most decisive battles in the wars of independence took place in 1302. The battle took place not in Scotland but in Flanders. At Courtrai, the flower of the French army was destroyed utterly by an army of Flemish foot soldiers armed with pikes who withstood the French knights charges before butchering them. This battle is decisive because up to that point the Scots had been if not winning certainly holding their own against Edward. Edward was fighting a war on two fronts, and was finding it increasingly difficult to do so. There were several campaigns in Scotland which achieved nothing except the starvation of the invading army. However with the French king now without an army, and suing for peace with Edward, the Scots would be faced with only one option. Stand or surrender. To their credit, they held out until 1305, but when the crunch came, they packed it in.

     Edward still wanted Wallace captured and had offered a fairly large reward for this. It was not until 1305 however that anyone took the bait. The Scot who did so was Sir John Stewart of Menteith. He sent one of his men as part of Wallaces band and had him lead Wallace to a spot where he could be apprehended. Wallace was then taken south with all speed where he was tried, convicted of High Treason (amongst other things), then hung, drawn, quartered, and variously mutilated.

     It is often stated that this act of barbarism on Edward's part was unforgivable and illegal. While this may be so, it should be remembered that while the high treason indictment was questionable to say the least (Wallace had never sworn fealty to Edward, so couldn't be charged with breaking that fealty), Wallace was also subject to a host of other charges,some true others, such as murdering schoolboys unlikely. The huge propaganda machine which was used in England to justify the Scottish wars and to get support to continue them left little room for leniency for a man who had soundly defeated a conventional army by unconventional means.

     With Wallace now a decoration for London Bridge, Edward turned his hand to the governance of his new lands. Various acts were passed for the effective government of Scotland. None of them had any effect for, within six months of Wallaces execution, there was rebellion again in Scotland.

     The man behind that rebellion was Robert Bruce, earl of Carrick, and now lord of Annandale. The death of Bruce's father had left him the claim to the throne, a claim he now determined to take on forcibly.

     To put Robert Bruce into perspective, we should perhaps look at him in a little detail. The Bruce family had ties both north and south of the border. The abbey of Guisborough in Northumberland was a Bruce foundation. Bruce "the competitor" was involved a great deal with the English court and held extensive lands in England. he acted as a justiciar for Edward in the north of England. His son also was involved in the English court and was keeper of Carlisle castle for a while. The young Robert Bruce was brought up at Edward's court and had extensive knowledge of it and was also a favorite of Edward. However, he was also an angry young man feeling that his family had been deprived the crown of Scotland. In the early years of the rebellion, Bruce was in many ways hamstrung by both a desire to fight for Scotland, and also well aware that the fight was being carried out in the name of Balliol. He, along with most Scottish nobles, changed sides on more than one occasion depending upon how the wind blew.

     By early 1306, however things had changed. He was now the head of his family and therefore did not have any ties to prevent him claiming the throne for himself. In addition, he was faced with a crisis. While in London, news reached him that John Comyn, lord of Badenoch, had let Edward know of a plot that Bruce was hatching to claim the throne. Bruce received a few minutes warning and fled to Scotland. In a church in Dumfries, Bruce met Comyn, argued with him and then killed him at the alter. This act changed things dramatically, he was left with no option but to claim the throne as quickly as possible, and then deal with the Comyn wrath as king.

     He rushed to Scone, passing by Glasgow to be absolved for the sacrilegious murder of Comyn. he was hurriedly crowned at Scone and shortly after defeated by a small English force at Methven, outside Perth. Sending his wife and sister north, Bruce fled West with the remains of his small army. He was defeated again by Lame John MacDougall at Dal Righ in Argyll, and fled to the isles.

     Where Bruce spent the winter of 1306/7 is unknown. Any island from Rathlin to Orkney has been said to be the location. It is probable that we should look at a Hebridean location for this sojourn. Probably in the lands of Angus Og MacDonald, certainly his wife and sister were attempting to flee for a boat when the were captured at Kildrummy castle and imprisoned.

     The situation was bleak for the new king, his kingdom was overrun by English troops, moreover the north of the country was very hostile to him. Over the winter, plans were laid for the new year.

     1307 brought the turning point in Scotland's fight for independence. Bruce landed at Turnberry, to discover the area overrun with English soldiers. A group of troops under his younger brothers were captured and beheaded. Then, a stroke of genius. At Loudon hill in Lanarkshire, Bruce defeated a large troop of English soldiers. Edward in an extremely angry mood order an army put together for a campaign to put down Bruce. Edward was however ill, the army marched north but never made it to Scotland. Edward died on the Solway cursing the Scots. He ordered his body boiled and the bones taken with the army. His son, now Edward II took the more pragmatic view and marched south again.

     Bruce was now free to deal with his enemies within Scotland. A battle on the slopes of Ben Cruachan in Argyll put paid to any involvement from the MacDougalls and then it was the turn of the Comyns.

     During the later part of 1307 and into 1308, the lands of the Comyns in Buchan and Badenoch were raided, burnt and generally destroyed. The Comyns were then forfeited and their lands granted out to Bruce supporters. By the new year, Bruce was in undisputed control of Scotland, now he could turn his hand to riding it of the English. In this he was aided by the ineptitude, disinterest and political problems of Edward II. There was no effective English invasion of Scotland until 1314. By which time the only castles in English hands were Stirling and Berwick.

     Stirling was, due to an agreement with the garrison, to be surrendered by midsummer 1314. The English got round to putting an army together, advanced to Stirling and were annihilated by Bruce and an army 1/3 of the size. Scotland was to all intents and purposes free.

     It would be 1329 before this was finally admitted to by the English king. However, when the news came that the English had agreed that Scotland was free and Scottish kings could be anointed, Bruce was dead. He had achieved more in his reign than many others had. He had united a realm behind him. From now on there would be no conflict of loyalties between Scots who held land on both sides of the border. After 1318, all Scots landholders had to decide which lands they wanted and swear fealty to the relevant king. If they wanted their Scottish lands then they forfeited their English lands and vice-versa.


Website design by Kingcrest Computer Solutions