The Wars of Independence

1296 to 1357

At the times of the english Kings Edward I., Edward II. and Edward III. the Kingdom of Scotland tried to defend itself against their attempts of subjugation and territorial claims. In general, a distinction is made between the First and Second War of Independence. Also, they are considered the trigger of the Hundred Years War between England and France.


In March 1286, the Scottish king Alexander III died. by a fall from the horse. The only surviving descendant was his three-year-old granddaughter Margaret, who was living in Norway at the time. Scotland, now led by a Guardian of the Kingdom regency, threatened a civil war following a dispute over the succession to the throne.
The Guardians chose Margaret’s great uncle to appoint King Edward I as arbitrator, which saw the opportunity to secure his influence in Scotland. However, Margaret died on the trip to Scotland and it flared again dispute over the succession of the throne between now 13 candidates claim.

Again, the English king was appointed as referee.

Due to his blood relationship to David I. Edward chose John Balliol, where he also saw a submissive ally. When Edward was planning a war against France, however, Balliol refused and formed instead in October 1295 an alliance with the opponent. As a result of this “break” Edward invaded Scotland and it came April 1296 for the first confrontation in the Battle of Dunbar, in which Balliol was captured and forced to abdicate.

First Independence War

After the Scots were defeated at Dunbar, Scotland was placed under British rule and Robert Bruce, one of the 13 aspirants to the Throne, used as scottish King. A resistance against the occupiers quickly began to form, in which especially William Wallace excelled as a military leader. After several skirmishes and raids on English troops, it came in 1297 to the ‘Battle of Stirling Bridge’. Despite the numerical superiority of the English Wallace was victorious and was appointed Guardian of Scotland.

Bruce broke with Edward and joined the revolt under Wallace, after he was commissioned to seize the scottish Soldier William Douglas and to hand him over with his family to the English. A new scottish Army was formed under him, but a battle did not take place, as the British feared a Civil War in their own Country. Instead, agreement was reached in Irvine on a capitulation of the Scots. Wallace, who now had no support of the nobility, fought on with a small force alone and it came July 11298 to the ‘Battle of Falkirk’. This time, Wallace defeated the British forces, had to flee and Robert and the Scottish nobility submitted to the English king again. Secretly, however, Bruce continued the fight and it came after minor fighting in June 1314 for the ‘Battle of Bannockburn’, which was victorious for Bruce.

After further fighting Scotland’s independence was recognized in 1328 in the Edinburgh and Northampton Agreement.

Second Independence War

England could not forget the defeat of Bannockburn. So they encouraged Edward, the son of the expelled King John Balliol to strive for the scottish Throne, on which now the five-year-old David sat. Edward invaded Scotland in 1332 and drove David into exile.

Balliol, however, had no support from his compatriots and it came in July 1333 to a ‘Battle of Halidon Hill’, which was victorious for Balliol. The Scots continued to rebellion, so it came in November 1335 at the Battle of Culblean, in which Balliol defeated this time and was expelled to England. David returned to Scotland, invaded England, and met troops of Edwards III in ‘Neville’s Cross’ at Durham. and Balliols. Lacking discipline and some deserters David was defeated and captured.

David was imprisoned in Odiham Castle and the Revolutionary War was over.

Fight`s of the Independence Wars

Battle at Dunbar  | Battle of Sterling Bridge  | Battle of Falkirk  | Battle at Halidon Hill  | Battle of Culblean  | Battle of Neville`s Cross 

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