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History of Braveheart



William Wallace
King Edward
Robert Bruce
Prince Edward
Isabella of France



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Blind Harry
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Battle of
Stirling Bridge

 At Stirling the neck of Scotland between the rivers Forth and Clyde is narrow enough to be a chokepoint and anyone wishing to dominate the country must hold that chokepoint. It was there, in September 1297, that the clash came. Wallace's men were mostly of low social status and most of their weapons were hand made. Few had even a simple steel skullcap to protect them and none had armor. They had been well drilled though and wielding 12ft pikes fought in the oval shaped spear-ring  called the schilltron. None of Scotland's great lords stood with Wallace that day. The Scots were drawn up on the slopes of the Abbey Craig, a steep hill on which the Wallace Monument now stands. Below them the River Forth wandered across the plain and curved into a large u-bend not a few hundreds of yards from the base of the hill. The river was crossed by a narrow bridge, only wide enough to permit the crossing of two horsemen abreast.

   When Surrey and Cressingham arrived at the bridge they made a critical mistake. They had been advised that there was a ford some way upstream where a hundred horsemen could cross the river in line abreast, but they disdained to heed this advice. Perhaps they felt the Scots were little more than a rabble and would be unable to resist the armored knights and men-at-arms advancing on them. Some said the stingy Cressingham wished to waste no more of his king's money in needlessly prolonging the war. Whatever the reason, the decision to cross the bridge condemned the English to their fate. Wallace had told his men to stand firm until they heard the sound of his horn and then to charge with all their might. 
  It was Cressingham who led the the English vanguard across the bridge. When they reached the other side of the river the English knights found the ground there to be soft almost marshy and they had great trouble in deploying their great warhorses into any semblance of a line. With only half the army across the bridge and greatly frustrated by the softness of the ground, Cressingham heard the sound of a horn braying from the slopes above him and down from the Abbey Craig the Scots spearmen rushed forward. The English were trapped in the bend of the river, unable to properly form up and with no hope of aid from their compatriots on the other side of the river. It was all over in an hour. Pushed back by the spears, the English horses were stabbed or hamstrung and their riders' throats were cut when they fell from their mounts. Surrey looked on in impotent fury as his army was torn to pieces. Cressingham fought fiercely on until he too was dragged from his horse and slain. Perhaps, as the song suggests, it was Moray who cut him down; we do not know. What we do know is that Andrew de Moray was severely wounded in the battle and died of these

wounds little over a month later. It was a grievious blow to the Scots and when ten months later Edward himself came north to put down the rebellion personally, Moray would be sorely missed at the Battle of Falkirk.


The depiction of this battle is the most offensive part of the movie to most historians, mainly that there was no bridge. The battle was depicted on a field with the English cavalry charging the Scots. Mel Gibson had actually planned to erect a bridge for this scene but because of time and budget restraints the building of a mock Stirling Bridge became inconceivable and the scene was rewritten.

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