One of my new favorite battles from the Scottish War of Independence is the Battle of Loudoun Hill. This battle was depicted at the end of the film The Outlaw King. I researched the actual battle and the film depicted the battle very accurately despite a few changes that were made. After my ancestor, Robert the Bruce, was crowned King of Scots, he suffered serious defeats while fighting the English. After evading the English and rivals Scots, Robert the Bruce rallied 600 infantry to his cause to combat 3,000 English knights and cavalry. The location of the battle was right in the middle of a road that had thick marshlands on either side. In a direct contest of brute strength, the Scots stood no chance against the English. In order to negate the English’s numerical advantage, the Scots used the road as a bottleneck and dug ditches to hinder the charges from English cavalry. If the English tried to flank the Scots, their horses would be stuck in the deep marshes and English knights would sink in the bog due to their heavy armor. Soon the battle turned into a one-sided massacre. Despite outnumbering the Scots five to one, the English were defeated and forced to retreat to the nearest castle to avoid being hunted down by battle-crazed Scots. Overall, the tactics of this battle were nearly identical to the Battle of Stirling Bridge, which also used a bottleneck tactic to beat the English. For my spin-off fantasy trilogy, I will be depicting a similar battle.
Even though I found the Dance of the Dragons to be a senseless war, there were quite a few epic battles and intriguing cutthroat politics. My favorite battle from the war that did not include a dragon would be the Battle of the Kingsroad. It was the very last battle of the Dance of the Dragons and ultimately decided the fate of the Targaryen Dynasty. After Rhaenyra Targaryen died, Lord Borros Baratheon of Storm’s End finally emerged with his army to support King Aegon II. Even though Lord Baratheon sided with Aegon II, he stayed out of most of the war in order to avoid the dragons. With Rhaenyra dead and most of the dragons gone, Lord Borros saw this as his chance to support his king. By the time he reached King’s Landing, word reached the Red Keep that one of Rhaenyra’s last supporters, Kermit Tully of Riverrun, was leading an army of riverlords towards the capital in the name of Rhaenyra’s last son, Aegon the Younger. Aegon II sent Borros Baratheon to defuse this threat and bolstered Borros’s army until it was between seven to eight thousand strong. As he marched, Lord Baratheon had six hundred knights and four thousand infantry from the Stormlands and soldiers from the Crownlands. Lord Baratheon met the Tully host along the Kingsroad between a hill on one side and a forest on the other. After learning that the Tully army was being led by two boys and a woman, Lord Baratheon was arrogantly confident that he would win. However, because Borros and his men stayed out of the war, they did not participate in a single battle, which left them green, undisciplined, and inexperienced. Even though Borros was older than the Tullys and outnumbered their army two to one, Kermit Tully and his men were far more battle-hardened. One could argue that Kermit Tully was the Tully version of Robb Stark, a young man who was a natural as both a warrior and military commander. In the middle of the Kingsroad, Kermit Tully assembled an impregnable shield wall while his archers were perched on top of the hill. Lord Baratheon led his knights and infantry in a brute force attack against the shield wall, but the archers under the command of Alysanne Blackwood killed the Baratheon horses, collapsing the Baratheon vanguard as it struck the shield wall. Once the shield wall held the Stormlanders in place, Alysanne’s young nephew Benjicot “Bloody Ben” Blackwood emerged from the forest and outflanked the Baratheon soldiers with his own men. When the Crownland levies saw the battle was lost, they either fled or defected to the Tullys and attacked the Baratheons from behind. With Borros and his men trapped in a pincer movement, the battle quickly turned into a one-sided massacre. Even after losing his horse, Borros Baratheon refused to yield and kept fighting until he was confronted by the teenage Kermit Tully himself. Kermit gave Borros one final chance to yield, but Borros cursed him instead. In response, Kermit Tully caved in Borros’s skull with his morningstar. With Borros dead, the remainder of King Aegon II’s army fled and King’s Landing was wide open to attack from Kermit Tully’s battle-hardened riverlords. Even with the last of his armies defeated and the armies of the North, Riverlands, and Vale closing in, Aegon II refused to surrender, which led to his poisoning by his own courtiers. The Battle of the Kingsroad led to the end of Aegon II’s reign and paved the way to the reign of Aegon III AKA the Dragonbane.
I had a frightening and epic idea for a future fantasy work. It will involve three armies, each one with at least 40,000 men and four dragons, fighting one another in an apocalyptic battle that takes place throughout an entire day. By the time the battle is over, most of the men and dragons involved in the battle will be dead. The dragon fire used in the battle would be so intense that the battlefield will burn nonstop for days. Plants will be turned to dust, rocks will be superheated and melted, and the remains of man and dragon alike will be mummified like the victims of Pompeii. It is going to be unlike any other battle I ever wrote and I can’t wait to write it. Wish me luck!
I just fought my first battle in the Total War game and it was more than I expected. I could feel the fear of defeat, the confusion of directing my men, and the satisfaction of winning. I am planning to include these elements in future battles in my fantasy series. I had an army of 861 strong while my opponent had me outnumbered by more than 400 men with a grand total of 1,281 strong. The battle was chaotic and it was hard to tell who was winning until it was over. Fortunately, I won the battle much to my surprise. I lost 656 of my men-at-arms while my foe lost 1,021. I had 205 men left while my adversary had 260. My total kills were 708 while my enemy had 579 kills. It was an engaging experience and was super fun for my first time. I will definitely play this more in order to get more of that thrill of battle. I will keep you updated on both my victories and my defeats.
For the next few days, I will be playing the computer game known as Total War. The reason for this is because I still have much to learn in terms of medieval battle tactics despite all the research I had done. There are some things I need to actually see in action. Hopefully, by playing this game I can get a better understanding of how medieval armies fight. If I fight any battles that are worthy of note, I might include certain details in my fantasy book. I will keep you all updated and maybe I can upload videos of my progress.
I had an interesting idea for a battle tactic in medieval warfare. Imagine sending your armies against your enemies in waves. The first few waves would consist of light infantry and cavalry, which have inferior armor and weapons than heavy infantry and cavalry. These first waves would be used to test your enemy’s defenses as well as wear them down with each wave. Meanwhile, you keep your heavy infantry and cavalry in reserve until your enemy is too weak and tired to fight back. When your light infantry and cavalry are spent and your foe’s defenses are exhausted, then you send in the rest of your forces to wipe out the survivors. I am thinking of including a tactic such as this in my new fantasy book in a number of battles.
After examining the Scottish War of Independence, I discovered many of the factors that defined both sides of the war. Let us start with England. England’s population was six times larger than Scotland’s, which meant that the Scots would always be outnumbered. England’s lands were also wealthier and more fertile, which meant they had access to high class armor and weapons as well as have enough food to feed their armies. Despite these advantages, the Scots had several advantages of their own. They knew the terrain of their country better than the English ever could and could use the terrain in their favor. The Scots also utilized unorthodox methods to fight such as the schiltron spear wall formation as well as guerrilla warfare and hit-and-run tactics. With these factors, the Scots had the ability to counter the numerical and economic disadvantages they had against the English. For my spin-off fantasy book, I am thinking of modelling several of these factors in the new war.