Robert the Bruce
One June 23-24, 1314, in a field near Stirling, Scottish forces under Robert the Bruce defeated English King Edward II in one of the most pivotal battles in the war of Scottish independence. The place was called Bannockburn.
Although the exact details of the battle are shrouded in time, it is believed that Robert’s forces prevailed thanks to a charge of the Knights Templar, who had taken refuge in Scotland after being expelled from France in 1307.
Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn
For two days, Robert’s army of 9,000 held fast against charge after charge of 38,000 battle-hardened English Calvary, archers and foot soldiers. During the battle, an English knight, Henry de Bohun, charged the King. At the last moment Robert moved his horse and turning the thrusting lance away. He then rose in his saddle killed de Bohun with a blow so powerful it split his axe handle. According to legend, Bruce’s only remark was “You’ve ruined my good axe.”
Around 1375, John Barbour wrote a narrative poem, “The Brus” about Robert the Bruce and the battle. According to the poem, Bruce addressed his captains before the battle, saying, in part,
“You could have lived in serfdom,
But, because you yearned to have freedom
You are gathered here with me;
So it is needful that you be
Strong and bold and without fear …
… If you will behave in this way
You win surely have victory.”