Battle of Stirling Bridge Factsheet (II)
decides to advance. He is advised to send a cavalry
force upstream to The Ford of Drip in order to
cover the infantrys crossing, however Edwards
treasurer, Hugh de Cressingham, intervenes, pointing
out that too much of the kings money has
already been wasted and insisting that they cross
at once to bring the campaign to a swift end.
and Murray wait until more than half the English
army has crossed the bridge before springing their
trap. The Scots spearmen rush down the causeway.
Those on the right flank force their way along
the river bank to the north end of the bridge,
cutting off any hope of escape. Trapped in a confined
space with the river to their backs the English
heavy cavalry is virtually useless. Only one group
of English knights, under Sir Marmaduke Tweng,
succeed in cutting their way back to the bridge.
After they have crossed, Warenne, who has wisely
stayed put, has the bridge destroyed and flees
half the English army is left to its fate
on the Scots side of the river. Those that
can swim do so, the rest (over 100 men-at-arms
and 5,000 infantry) are inevitably massacred.
Many of them are Welsh, but among them isHugh
de Cressingham, Edwards hated tax collector,
who had crossed first.
the Scots side, Andrew Murray is fatally wounded.
He dies two months later and is buried at
Fortrose Cathedral on Black Isle, north of
brings the collapse of English occupation. Wallace,
now Guardian of Scotland, goeson to devastate
the north of England in the hope of forcing Edward
to acknowledge defeat. Records show that 715 villages
are burnt and many helpless people are no doubt
slain. The cycle of brutality, started by Edward
at Berwick, rolls remorselessly on.
Until 1297 the heavily armed and mounted knight
had been an invincible force on the battlefield.
Stirling Bridge was the first battle in Europe
to see a common army of spearmen defeat a
feudal host. Only five years later a host
of French knights were to go down to similarly-armed
Flemish townsmen at The Battle of Courtrai.
Stirling Bridge also destroyed the myth of
English invincibility. The Scots had not defeated
a major English army since the Dark Ages,
but this victory seems to have strengthened
their will to resist Edward I. However, the
humiliation of losing to lowly Scots only
strengthened Edwards determination:
under a year later Wallaces Scots Army
were defeated at The Battle of Falkirk.
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