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19 September 2014
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The Battle of Stirling Bridge Factsheet (II)
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  • The Battle of Stirling Bridge Warenne decides to advance. He is advised to send a cavalry force upstream to The Ford of Drip in order to cover the infantry’s crossing, however Edward’s treasurer, Hugh de Cressingham, intervenes, pointing out that too much of the king’s money has already been wasted and insisting that they cross at once to bring the campaign to a swift end.

  • Wallace 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 to Berwick.

  • Over 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, Edward’s hated tax collector, who had crossed first.

  • On the Scots side, Andrew Murray is fatally wounded. He dies two months later and is buried at Fortrose Cathedral on Black Isle, north of Inverness.

    Wallace Monument
  • Victory 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.

  • Significance
    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 Edward’s determination: under a year later Wallace’s Scots Army were defeated at The Battle of Falkirk.

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