BATTLE OF STIRLING BRIDGE

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One of the major battles of the Scottish War of Independence was the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Many of you would recall the Battle of Stirling in the film Braveheart, but the actual battle was much different in real life. Instead of an open field, the Battle of Stirling Bridge took place on a bridge in a marshy landscape. When the English marched north to quell the Scottish rebellion, the only way to northern Scotland was by crossing Stirling Bridge. The normal rules of engagement of the time required the Scots to let the English to march their entire army over the bridge and form ranks afterwards. However, if the Scots did this, the English would win so the Scots did not wait for the entire English army to cross the bridge. Once about half the English army was over the bridge, the Scots deployed the schiltron spear wall formation and started mowing down the English. Because they were caught off guard and were facing a tactic they never experienced before, the English had no way to counter the Scottish schiltron, resulting in massive casualties on the English side. When it became clear they were about to be annihilated, the English fled for their lives back over the bridge only to run into their comrades marching behind them. This collision of bodies caused the bridge to collapse and many English knights, horses, and men-at-arms fell into the river. Because the water was deep and the beaches were muddy and marshy, the English soldiers were weighed down by their heavy armor and sank to their deaths. By the time the battle was over, the English lost more than half their army. Among the dead was Edward I’s hated tax collector. This tax collector was so hated by the Scots that they each cut off a piece of him to take home as a souvenir. For instance, William Wallace flayed a strip of the tax collector’s skin from head to heel to be made into a sword belt. This battle was a significant boost in morale for the Scots and earned William Wallace the title Guardian of Scotland, which made him king in all but name. I am thinking of drawing inspiration from the Battle of Stirling Bridge for my spin-off fantasy series.

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