William Wallace-The Brave
Part Five-Wallace Triumphant
Stirling was of extreme
importance to both the Scots and the English.Stirling castle was one of
the most impregnable castles in all of Europe.The city of Stirling was
the gateway from the lowlands to the highlands by way of the wooden bridge
which spanned the River Forth.
All of Northern Scotland
beyond Stirling was in the hands of the Scots.King Edward appointed Hugh
Cressingham and Earl Warenne to lead an immense army of veterans in seizing
full control of Stirling and through the city retake northern Scotland.The
English forces were made up of 51,000 men from all over the British Isles
and another force 8,000 strong were on the way from Carlisle to assist
in crushing the Scottish rebellion.Now the English soldiers had experience,advanced
weapons,more discipline and the fact that they had never lost a battle
they trusted their leaders and were full of confidence that this battle
would be nothing for all the Scots had was their patriotism and defiance.
As was the custom in those
times the English gave the Scots a chance to surrender and two Dominican
friars were dispatched to present the king's terms.Usually these terms
meant an offer of land or money in return for fealty to Edward but William
along with his companion De Mornay turned down the offer.The friars even
kept a record of what William said.
"Tell your people we have not come here
to gain peace,but are prepared for battle,to avenge and deliver our country.Let
them come up when they like and they will find us ready to meet them even
to their beards."-William Wallace
The English discussed a
strategy while the Scots waited upon a hill looking down at the English
who were gathered on the other side of Stirling Bridge.
On the English side Sir
Richard Lundie who had fought for and against Edward several times developed
a plan that could have worked well his plan was to flank the Scots from
a shallow point down the river and rout them but his plan was turned down
because the English didn't trust him.Cressingham insisted they advance
as normal across the bridge thinking that the Scots would stay upon the
Only two horseman could
traverse the bridge side by side so a long chain of men streamed down the
bridge and it took two hours for just half of the army of Northern England
to make it across Wallace chose that moment for his army to attack.
The Scots charged so swiftly
that many of the English had no knowledge that the battle had begun.William
had his forces push the English advance into a loop in the river so that
the English were trapped with a river behind them and Scots before them
the horses of the heavily armed and armoured English army panicked and
a stampede began as steeds threw their riders either into the river where
armour dragged them to death by drowning or they were trampled to death
as was Cressingham.The English wanted the offensive and were now forced
to defend.Warenne on the other side of the bridge knew the battle was lost
and ordered the bridge burned and the army of Northern England retreated
to Berwick.Upon finding Cressingham's body the Scots in a fit of revenge
for Berwick mutilated it.Cressingham who was quite obese had gone from
Edward's treasurer to decorating Scottish scabbards and belts.
Wallace was a hero praised
by the commoners of Scotland and feared by the magnates and soon enough
there was almost nothing left of the English army in Scotland.Berwick was
Wallace's next target and his men ravaged the city then Cumbria fell and
Wallace had all the food his men had seized shipped back to Scotland in
order to feed his starving people.Fighting against England on English soil
continued until November 8th,1297 when a severe snowstorm caused the Scots
to head home in anticipation of a hard winter.
When Christmas came in 1297
Wallace recieved the gift of knighthood and was appointed as the sole Guardian
of Scotland commander of the entire Scottish army.He was knighted by Robert
Bruce the future king.
Scotland was euphoric the
English were gone and despite the fact Edward had moved his capital to
York along with a massive army of 3,000 Heavy cavalry,4,000 light horsemen
and 80,000 foot soldiers troubles with the church and the lack of loyalty
among his aides kept him from making an attack on Scotland.Wallace meanwhile
was training his armies for what he knew lay ahead all abled bodied male
Scots aged 16 or older were made soldiers and Wallace created the schiltrom
a tactic that was adapted all over Europe now known as the square.Wallace
also exiled all English from Scotland.
Sir John Fitz-Marmaduke
a English knight had made several successful raids on the Scots.Fitz-Marmaduke
had a reputation for brutality and even Edward had to rebuke him for his
sadism in battles previous but now Edward told Sir John to go forth and
show no mercy.English propaganda began portraying Wallace as a barbarian
who forced nuns to dance nude for him and that he had his men kill infants
by burning them alive this way Edward could demonize the Scots and rally
more troops but by summer Edward was ready to fight Wallace face to face.