Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 3: The First War of Independence - Scotland's Struggle for survival

Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 3: The First War of Independence - Scotland's Struggle for survival

Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 3: The First War of Independence - Scotland's Struggle for survival

In the year of the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn it would have been very hard to avoid this topic. Thankfully the various authors manage to avoid the potential nationalist pitfalls of this topic (especially important with the Scottish referendum coming up), although I would have liked a little more detail on the breakdown in the relationship between Edward I and John Balliol, his choice for king of Scotland.

I was fascinated to learn how limited our sources for the life of William Wallace actually are, with the most detailed information coming from a poem written in the mid fifteenth century by a poet generally identified as 'Blind Harry'.

Other articles look at other key figures of the war - Robert de Bruce, the eventual victor (despite his frequent changes of side), Edward I, who could win battlefield victories but not the war. The examination of Scottish tactics is a good study of how the smaller, less well equipped force, was able to win the war (and on occasion crucial battles). There is a good account of Bannockburn, the vital Scottish victory deservedly remembered as the turning point of the war, and a look at the various sieges of Bothwell Castle (I hadn’t realised just how incomplete Bothwell was at the time - just the keep, one tower, and one piece of connecting curtain wall). Finally there is a look at the reconstructions used in the new Bannockburn visitor centre, where every soldier in the new digital display has been individualised.

Away from the theme there is a look at the difficulties of creating the greave - a part of a suit of armour that really needed to fit, the collapse of Great Moravia - a short-lived but powerful kingdom of the ninth century, and finally the role of the condottieri in the Italian Wars of the early sixteenth century, a period in which they are generally said to have been less significant but still played an important role.

Articles
Scotland's First War of Independence - Historical Introduction
Plucked from the notes of song - Blind Harry and the sources for William Wallace
Highlanders and hobies - Scottish asymmetric warfare
Hammering the rebellion - Edward Longshanks' campaign in Scotland
Bothwell Castle - A symbol of dominance
Claim to the throne - The Battle of Bannockburn
The knights of Bannockburn - Digital warriors and the new battlefield centre
Crafting the greave - 'Sculpting' for the medieval armourer
The end of Great Moravia - Between East and West
The last condottieri - Generals of the Italian Wars

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