Scottish Wars of Independence

Cogaidhean Neo-eisimeileachd na h-Alba

The Scottish Wars of Independence were a series of military campaigns fought between Scotland and England in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. The First War (1296–1328) began with the English invasion of Scotland in 1296 and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton in 1328. This is the better-known period as it includes the more familiar figures of Edward I (Longshanks), William Wallace, and Robert I (the Bruce).

The Second War (1332–1357) began with the English-supported invasion by Edward Balliol in 1332 and ended in 1357 with the signing of the Treaty of Berwick. The wars were part of a great crisis for Scotland and the period became one of the most defining times in its history. At the end of both wars, Scotland retained its status as an independent state. The wars were important for other reasons, such as the emergence of the longbow as a key weapon in medieval warfare.

Although individuals from the Highlands and Islands, such as Andrew de Moray, were involved during the Wars, none of the major fighting took place in the area. Most decisive battles such as Stirling Bridge, Falkirk and Bannockburn took place in the central belt of Scotland.

The division of participants in the Wars was not as simple as Scottish against English, but more accurately Scots-supporting and English-supporting (which often included Scots) with Irish also on both sides. In the post-Bannockburn period, there are Irish fighting Irish, English fighting English, and Scots fighting against Bruce because they support the English Plantagenet kings. People often took sides for different reasons – some to settle old scores, while some were motivated by who they thought would ultimately win and the benefits they would accrue, such as land or titles.