A History of Scotland by Rosalind Mitchison

By Rosalind Mitchison

An awesome quantity for someone short of a brisk review of North Britain from the yr dot to the 20 th century.

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David then bent all his great personal influence to securing the succession of his grandson Malcolm, a child of twelve. The boy was sent through Scotia in the company of the Earl of Fife and a large army, and proclaimed heir. The king’s influence prevailed and Malcolm inherited, but the survival of the MacWilliam claim meant that control over the Highlands, both by himself and by his brother and successor William, was slight. The eyes of the twelfth-century kings were anyway not on the Highlands but on southern expansion.

1 The tremendous Scottish victory was partly the result of this physical restriction to the only dry areas of ground available, areas big enough to be used effectively by the Scottish schiltroms but not big enough for the proper deployment of the English cavalry, who got in the way of their own archers. The other element seems to have been practice and discipline. The Scottish soldiers had fought hard and often in the last six years (those raids into England produced a double dividend) whereas the English, though led by a king and aristocracy trained for war, had not in practice been at it on this scale.

In 1297 he caught the English army at Stirling Bridge, and massacred it, infantry defeating mounted knights. On the grave of the foreign administration the Scots recreated their Guardians: Wallace at first alone on behalf of Balliol, and then later a system of joint Guardians. The French alliance was reaffirmed and the Scots started invading northern England. But they could not cope with a renewed attack by Edward. In 1298 at Falkirk, Edward showed that English knights and Welsh archers, properly deployed, could defeat and slaughter the half-trained peasants fighting with spears in their great but unmanoeuvrable unit, the schiltrom or spear ring.

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