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enlarged on the advantages possessed by the Scots over their enemies: first, their cause was the just cause, and the Almighty would favour it; secondly, let them think of the rich spoils of the English; thirdly, let them remember that the English only fought for conquest, despising their poor army, whereas they were to struggle for everything which men could hold dear: their lives, their families, their fortunes, their liberties and their country. He concluded his speech by engaging his royal promise, that heirs of all who fell in battle should immediately receive their lands, free from wardship, relief, or bail. After King Robert's earnest and entreating words the army supped, and then lay down to rest on the field in order of battle.

While these things were passing in the Scottish camp, misgivings and surprise at the desperate valour of their enemies spread rapidly amongst the English, and the common soldiers grumbled audibly at the King and the nobles in dragging them hundreds of miles from home to die in a cause in which they had no personal interest. They drew off to rest in the low grounds, and, according to the Scottish chronicler of Bannockburn, they spent the night most industriously in laying bridges over the ditches and streams, providing themselves with materials from the neighbouring houses, whilst the English garrison of Stirling sent down doors and window frames to assist the carpenters and masons. But an English writer says that his countrymen abandoned themselves on the night of the 23d of June 1314 to carousing and riotous mirth.



'. . . Was many a noble deed, many a brave,
And chance and craft, and strength in single fights,
And ever and anon with host to host
Shocks, and the splintering spear, the hard mail hewn,
Shield-breakings, and the clash of brands, the crash
Of battle-axes on shatter'd helms, and shrieks
After the Christ, of those who falling down
Looked up for heaven. . . .
And shouts of heathen. . . .
Oaths, insult, filth, and monstrous blasphemies,
Sweat, writhings, anguish, labouring of the lungs. . . .
And cryings for the light,
Moans of the dying, and voices of the dead.'


Very early in the dawn of the summer morning the Scots awoke. Their first business on this day, which would certainly be to many, perhaps to all, their last day on earth, was their prayers. The King made his confession, and those who had not already done so followed his example. Maurice, abbot of Inchaffray, climbed an eminence, where he could be seen by the whole army, and there supplicated for the special presence of the Lord God of Hosts by the celebration of mass with great solemnity. He ministered the Eucharist to the King and his nobles, and then he passed along the front barefooted, holding aloft a crucifix, and exhorting his countrymen in brief and emphatic words to fight valiantly in their good cause. As he passed, the troops fell on their knees and said the Lord's Prayer. 'See,' cried Edward, who had observed this action; 'they are kneeling; they ask mercy!' 'They do, my liege,' replied Ingelram de Umfraville, 'but not ours. On that field these men will be victorious, or die.'

The battle began, and, exasperated by the animosity of years, which centuries were not to efface, the two nations met in a death-struggle. Compared with the cannonading of our days, and the 'infernal clatter of the mitrailleuse,' the battles of the middle ages were noiseless; but the more horribly distinct were the cries of human agony, the clash of steel, the whirr of the arrows, the war-cries, and the thundering rush of the war-horses.

For hours the fate of the day hung in the balance between the English cavalry and the Scottish spearmen. Every charge of the former was received by the latter upon their spears pointed directly outwards, and though the shock at first threatened their annihilation, the horses and their riders were subsequently laid dead or dying upon the ground. But, on the other hand, one reinforcement was just overturned when another arrived from the inexhaustible main army of the English, whose very vastness, it seemed, must wear out the spearmen's powers of endurance, and, at the same time, showers of English arrows were pouring down into their ranks. In putting to rout the archers, King Robert found a use for his five hundred cavalry. They drove them down in a furious charge, and then his own bowmen did great execution, and, in their way, assisted the spearmen to meet the charges of the cavalry. The long summer day was wearing through, and still the fight raged on. Right graphically does Barbour describe the awful scene,—the groans of the wounded and the dying, the ground slippery with blood, the dense showers of arrows, the rising and falling of the banners, the beautiful scarfs trodden under foot in blood and clay, and the horses running round and round, mad in their agony. It was not till late in the afternoon that there were obvious indications of the day having turned. 'On them, on them; they fail!' rang along the Scottish lines, and at the same moment an accidental or a preconcerted event helped to decide the fate of Scotland. The carters, wainmen, and lackeys emerged from the valley to the rear, bound tent-covers and sheets on their spears and tent-poles, some of them mounted baggage-horses, and all having placed themselves in a sort of battle array, they ran down the hillside, in face of the enemy, with great noise and clamour. The arrival of afresh army of savages was enough to spread despair amongst the dispirited English. Slowly, but steadily, their ranks gave way. There were brave attempts to rally the fugitives, and resume the fight, but in vain. Seeing that the day was lost, Pembroke seized the King's horse by the bridle, and forced him to flee. He turned towards England, and galloped headlong from the field. Amongst the heaps of the Englishmen slain lay twenty-seven barons and bannerets, forty-two knights, and seven hundred esquires. The living, in the wild confusion of their precipitate flight, tried to hide themselves in the rocks of Stirling Castle, and many rushed into the river Forth and were drowned. But there were knights who could not run away. Sir Giles d'Argentine, a warrior of world-wide renown, esteemed after Henry of Luxemburg, Emperor of Germany, and Robert, King of Scotland, the best knight in Europe, cried out, ' It is not my wont to fly,' and spurring his horse, as he shouted his warcry, once the terror of the Saracens in Palestine, 'An Argentine!' he plunged into the battle, to meet certain death. The King of England galloped, without drawing rein, to Linlithgow. He was refreshing himself there, when the cry

arose that Douglas and sixty horsemen were in hot pursuit; and he had again to set off at a desperate gallop. He escaped his enemies, and reached Dunbar, and from thence sailed to Berwick. The completeness of the victory of Bannockburn is testified to by one who describes its loss :—' O! day of vengeance and misfortune, odious, accursed day, no longer to be remembered in the circle of the year ! which tarnished the glory of England, despoiled our nation, and enriched the Scots to the amount of two hundred thousand pounds! How many illustrious nobles and valiant youths, what numbers of excellent horses and beautiful arms, how many precious vestments and golden vessels, were carried off in one cruel day!' Very admirable and chivalrous was King Robert's treatment of his prisoners and of the bodies of the 'noble slain.' There were among them heroes who had never been conquered before, and many of them were his old companions in arms. 'By humane and courteous off1ces he alleviated the misfortune of the captives, won their affections, and showed the English how they ought to improve their victories.' 1 Several of the prisoners were given in exchange for those illustrious Scots who had been previously captured by the English. The Earl of Hereford was exchanged for the consort, sister, and daughter of King Robert, for Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow, and for the young Earl of Mar, the King's nephew. The body of the Earl of Gloucester was reverently watched in chapel, and then was sent along with the remains of Lord Clifford to England. For Sir Marmaduke de Twenge, who was found the morning after the battle hiding amongst the trees, the King of Scots asked no ransom. Amongst the prisoners there was a memorable one, Baston, a Carmelite friar, esteemed the best Latin poet in England, who had been brought over in Edward's —

1 Hailes, vol. ii. p. 66,

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