History of Braveheart
This decisive battle began with skirmishes on the 23rd of June 1314 concluding with the main battle on the following day. It was this battle that firmly placed Robert the Bruce, who led the Scots against the forces of King Edward II, as king of a free Scotland
Stirling castle was one of the few Scottish territories still under English occupation. It had been under siege for several months. A small force led by Edward Bruce (King Robertís brother) was hoping to starve the English out. However in the spring Edward Bruce and Phillip Mowbry, the governor of the Stirling would surrender the castle if reinforcements had not arrived by midsummer. Upon hearing this news Robert the Bruce was furious knowing that Edward II would send and army north and that a battle would be the only way to secure Stirling. King Robert was correct.
Edward and his force of around 30,000, made up of about 3,000 armored knights, 2,000 Welsh bowman, 500 light cavalry with the rest made up of highly trained infantry, arrived on June 23rd 1314. To meet King Robertís force of about 13,000.
Mowbry rode out to meet Edward II and convinced the King to give him a few hundred knights to flank the Scots. Edward agreed and the force set out along a narrow path that followed a gorge keeping them hid from the Scots. However they were spotted and Robert sent a schiltron to head off the knights.
The schiltron headed the English off. The cavalry charged and the Scots dug in and prepared for the impact. The Scots lines held and many English knights crashed to their deaths. The knights retreated and charged again but with the same results. Until finally retreating to camp
This victory though small, the Scottish were still outnumbered about 3 to 1, did much for the morale of Robertís troops and subsequently crushed the confidence of the English. However Robert the Bruce was still troubled. By seeing where Edward had camped his army Robert knew the battle would have to take place in an open field putting the Scots at a strong disadvantage against the massive English army. Robert knew the only chance he would have would be to attack them as they were still crossing the field in doing this he hoped to drive them back upon their own troops causing confusion, The Bruce conferred with his men and the Scots set to the task at hand.
June 24, 1314 The English made their way across the gorge toward the Scots who were waiting. As the cavalry readied for their charge Robert ordered his troops out of the trees gathering into schiltrons and preparing for the first wave. The knights confused by two conflicting leaders charged the Scots and hit their lines with earth shattering force, However because of their disorganization the Scots held position and many of the Knights like the night before were killed by the spikes.
The English archers, in a panic, fired on the Scots and ended up hitting the retreating knights as well as the Scots. The archers were however effective against the Scots but Robert had foreseen this. On his signal 500 mounted infantry rushed the English archers and overtook them.
Things only got worse for Edward II. The Scots seeing the horrible organization of the English slowly advanced beating back the cavalry who continuously charged the schiltrons to no avail. The English infantry still trying to cross the gorge was being blocked by their own retreating troops. The Scots just pressed them back into the gorge crushing the English forces.
The English then scattered those who werenít sent to their doom by the Scots trampled over one another. King Edward narrowly escaped capture himself. As for the Scots victory was theirs as was freedom.
Bannockburn spur of the moment??
The film makes as though Robert the Bruce was originally on the fields of Bannockburn to pay homage to King Edward for Ďallowingí him to wear the crown of Scotland. This could not be further from the truth.
It was because of the Scots preparation for the battle that victory was theirs. Robert had spent two months training his army. Their were four Scottish divisions Bruce recruited members of the various clans. The Camerons, Cambells, Chisolms, Frasers, Gordons, Grants, Gunns, Mackays, Mackintoshes, Macphersons, Macquarries, Macleans, MacDonalds, MacFarlanes, MacGregors, MacKenzies, Menzies, Munros, Robertsons, Rosses, Sinclairs and Sutherlands, were all their in support of Bruce and his quest for a free Scotland.
However the way that Robert motivated his troops for the battle in the film is believed to be accurate, It is said that before the battle he made a speech to his forces shouting the triumph of Wallace over the English at Stirling. But whether this is fact or myth no one knows.