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- In Freedom's Cause - 60/60 -


the Scottish ranks, borne back by the slow advance of the hedge of spears, harassed by the archers who dived below the horses, stabbing them in their bellies, or rising suddenly between them to smite down the riders with their keen, heavy, short handled axes, the English began to lose heart, and as they wavered the Scotch pressed forward more eagerly, shouting, "On them! on them! They give way! they give way!"

At this critical moment the servants, teamsters, and camp followers who had been left behind Gillies Hill, showed themselves. Some of their number from the eminence had watched the desperate struggle, and on hearing how their soldiers were pressed by the surrounding host of English men-at-arms they could no longer remain inactive. All men carried arms in those days. They hastily chose one of their own number as leader, and fastening some sheets to tent poles as banners, they advanced over the hill in battle array, and moved down to join their comrades. The sight of what theydeemed a fresh division advancing to the assistance of the Scotch brought to a climax the hesitation which had begun to shake the English, and ensured their discomfiture. Those in rear turned bridle hastily, and crossing the Bannock Burn, galloped away. The movement so begun spread rapidly, and although those in front still continued their desperate efforts to break the line of Scottish spears, the day was now hopelessly lost. Seeing that this was so, the Earl of Pembroke seized the king's rein and constrained him to leave the field with a bodyguard of 500 horse. Sir Giles de Argentine, who had hitherto remained by the king's side, and who was esteemed the third best knight in Europe -- the Emperor Henry of Luxemberg and Robert Bruce being reckoned the two best -- bade farewell to the king as he rode off.

"Farewell, sire," he said, "since you must go, but I at least must return; I have never yet fled from an enemy, and will remain and die rather than fly and live in disgrace."

So saying, the knight spurred down to the conflict, and charged against the array of Edward Bruce, and there fell fighting valiantly. The flight of the king and his attendants was the signal for a general rout. Great numbers were slain, many men were drowned in the Forth, and the channel of the Bannock was so choked with the bodies of dead men and horses that one could pass over dry shod. The scattered parties of English were still so numerous that Bruce held his men well in hand until these had yielded themselves prisoners. Douglas was charged to pursue the king, but he could only muster sixty horsemen. A short distance from the field he met a Scottish baron, Sir Laurence Abernethy, with twenty-four men-at-arms, on his way to join the English, for even as yet but few of the Scottish nobles were on the side of the king. Upon hearing what had happened, Sir Laurence, with the easy facility which distinguished the Scottish nobles of the period, at once changed sides, swore fealty to Bruce, and joined Douglas in the pursuit of his late friends. They overtook the king's party at Linlithgow, but Pembroke kept his men well together, and while still retiring, showed so bold an appearance that Douglas did not venture to charge. Finally the English reached the Castle of Dunbar, where the king and his immediate attendants were received by his ally, Earl Patrick of Dunbar. So cowed were the fugitives that they left their horses outside the castle gate, and these were captured by their pursuers. The main body of the king's bodyguard continued their way in good order, and reached Berwick in safety. Edward gained England in a fishing boat from Dunbar. Eighteen years had elapsed since his father had entered Scotland with an army deemed sufficient for its entire subjugation; had sacked and destroyed the rich and prosperous town of Berwick, routed the army of Baliol, marched through Scotland, and, as he believed, permanently settled his conquest. Now the son had lost all that his father had won.

Among the fugitive remains of the English army were a considerable body of Welsh, who, being lightly armed, fled at full speed toward the Border, but being easily distinguished by their white dresses and the absence of defensive armour, almost all were slain by the peasantry. The Earl of Hereford, the Earl of Angus, Sir John Seagrave, Sir Anthony Lucy, Sir Ingram de Umfraville, with a great number of knights, 600 men-at-arms, and 1000 infantry, keeping together, marched south toward Carlisle.

As they passed Bothwell Castle, which was held by the governor for England, the earls and knights entered the castle, their followers remaining without; but the governor, on hearing the result of the battle, closed the gates and took all who had entered prisoners, and, changing sides, handed them over to Bruce. Their followers continued their march south, but were for the most part slain or taken prisoners before they reached the Border.

When all resistance had ceased on the field the victors collected the spoil. This consisted of the vast camp, the treasures intended for the payment of the army, the herds of cattle, and stores of provisions, wine, and forage; the rich wearing apparel and arms of the knights and nobles killed or made prisoners, many valuable horses, and the prisoners who would have to be ransomed, among whom were twenty-two barons and sixty knights.

The spoil was estimated at 200,000 pounds, equal to 3,000,000 pounds of money in these days. The king refused to take any share in this plunder, dividing it wholly among his troops. 30,000 English lay dead on the field, including 200 knights and 700 esquires, and among the most distinguished of the dead were the Earl of Gloucester, Sir Giles de Argentine, Lord Robert Clifford, Sir Edmund Manley, seneschal of England, Sir William de Mareschal, Sir Payne Tybtot, and Sir John Comyn. Sir Marmaduke de Twenge was among the prisoners.

Bruce's conduct to his prisoners was even more honourable to himself than was the great victory that he had won. In spite of his three brothers, his brother in law Seaton, his friends Athole and Frazer, having been executed by the English, and the knowledge that their mangled remains were still exposed over London Bridge and the gates of Carlisle and Newcastle -- in spite of the barbarous and lengthened captivity of his wife, his sister and daughter, and his friend the Countess of Buchan -- in spite of the conviction that had he himself been made prisoner he would at once have been sent to the scaffold -- Bruce behaved with a magnanimity and generosity of the highest kind. Every honour was paid to the English dead, and the bodies of the chief among these were sent to their relatives in England, and the prisoners were all either ransomed or exchanged. Sir Marmaduke de Twenge was dismissed free of ransom and loaded with gifts, and even the Scotch nobles, such as Sir Philip Mowbray, who were taken fighting in the ranks of their country's enemy, were forgiven. This noble example exercised but little influence upon the English. When Edward Bruce was killed four years afterwards at Dundalk in Ireland, his body was quartered and distributed, and his head presented to the English king, who bestowed upon Birmingham -- who commanded the English and sent the gift to him -- the dignity of Earl of Louth.

Among the prisoners was Edward's poet laureate, Baston, a Carmelite friar, who had accompanied the army for the purpose of writing a poem on the English victory. His ransom was fixed at a poem on the Scotch victory at Bannockburn, which the friar was forced to supply.

With Bannockburn ended all hope on the part of the English of subjugating Scotland; but the war continued fitfully for fourteen years, the Scotch frequently invading England and levying heavy contributions from the northern counties and towns, and the English occasionally retaliating by the same process; but at length peace was signed at Northampton.

In 1315 a parliament assembled at Ayr for the purpose of regulating the succession to the throne. It was then agreed that in case of the king's death without male issue his brother Edward should succeed to it, and that if Edward left no heirs, the children of Marjory, the king's daughter, should succeed. Shortly afterwards Marjory was married to Walter the Steward. Edward Bruce was killed unmarried. A son was afterwards born to the king, who reigned as David II, but having died without issue, the son of Marjory and the Steward became king. The hereditary title of Steward was used as the surname for the family, and thus from them descended the royal line of Stewart or Stuart, through which Queen Victoria at present reigns over Great Britain, Ireland, and their vast dependencies.

After Bannockburn Archie Forbes went no more to the wars. He was raised to the dignity of Baron Forbes by the king, and was ever rewarded by him as one of his most trusty councillors, and his descendants played a prominent part in the changing and eventful history of Scotland; but the proudest tradition of the family was that their ancestor had fought as a patriot by the side of Bruce and Wallace when scarce a noble of Scotland but was leagued with the English oppressors of their country.

THE END


In Freedom's Cause - 60/60

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