Second War of Scottish Independence

Second War of Scottish Independence

The Second War of Scottish Independence began properly in 1333 when Edward III of England overturned the 1328 Treaty of Northampton, under which England recognised the legitimacy of the dynasty established by Robert Bruce. Edward was determined to support the claim of Edward Balliol, the son of the former king, John Balliol, over David II, Bruce's son and heir. Balliol had managed to establish a brief rule in Scotland in the autumn of 1332, only to be thrown out of the country later in the year. The war itself was destined to last on and off until 1357, when David II was released from English captivity. English involvement in Scotland was also to be one of the factors leading to the outbreak of the Hundred Years War with France in 1337.


In February 1306, before the high altar of Greyfriars Church in Dumfries, Robert Bruce murdered John Comyn, a leading political rival. It was an act that began a revolution. Comyn was the nephew of John Balliol, the former king of Scotland, who had been deposed by Edward I of England in 1296, and the man best placed to represent both his interests and his right to the crown. Bruce had killed a rival. But even more important in going on to seize the Scottish crown for himself he might be said to have killed the judgement of 1292, which declared his grandfather to have an inferior right in feudal law to that of John Balliol. Bruce had occupied the high ground of Scottish politics, but in doing so he faced the enmity not just of the English but also men with Balliol and Comyn associations; men, in other words, whose patriotic credentials were as strong, if not stronger, than his own, were now guaranteed to fight on the side of the enemy. The War of Scottish Independence had become at one and the same time a civil war.

In the years before Bannockburn King Robert's principal campaign was not against the English but his fellow Scots. Bit by bit the Balliol and Comyn factions lost ground, suffering defeat at the Battle of Inverurie and the Battle of Pass of Brander. At St. Andrews in 1309 these military successes received political expression, when Parliament declared that John Balliol had been wrongfully imposed on Scotland in an act of English political manipulation, thus launching an enduring myth. It was obvious that the former king, now retired to his estates in Picardy, was never going to return; but his son Edward Balliol, growing to manhood in English captivity, had become by this announcement the first in a class of men soon to be known as the disinherited.

The judgement of 1309 was joined by that of November 1314 when the first Parliament to meet after Bruce's great victory at Bannockburn passed sentence of forfeiture on all who held land in Scotland but who continued to fight on the side of the English. Thus ended the 'aristocratic international' that had been a feature of feudal Britain since the days of Henry I of England and David I of Scotland. Landowners could no longer have divided political loyalties: they would have to choose one side or the other. The new class of disinherited were, for the most part, men with blood or kinship ties to the former king, who refused to accept the changed political realities. Chief amongst these was Henry Beaumont, a French knight and experienced soldier, who laid claim to the earldom of Buchan in right of his wife, Alice Comyn. The leading Scot to be disinherited was David de Strathbogie, the former Earl of Atholl. Strathbogie had never made his peace with Bruce and died in exile in 1327. His son, also called David, grandson of the Red Comyn, laid claim to the earldom of Atholl was well as John Comyn's Lochaber lands in right of his mother, Joan Comyn.

Treaty of Northampton

In the years before the conclusion of the Treaty of Northampton in 1328 Beaumont was particularly tenacious in pursuit of his lost inheritance, even falling out with Edward II over the matter. After Edward was deposed Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella, who ruled England during the minority of Edward III, eventually entered into peace negotiations with the Scots. Amongst other things King Robert proposed that those who fought on the English side would not seek restitution of lost lands in Scotland, nor would Scots nobles make similar demands of England: the disinherited, in other words, would remain just that. But because of the strength of the lobby in England the whole question was effectively ignored in the final treaty. Henry Beaumont, now a master of political intrigue, had been joined by Henry Percy, Thomas Wake of Liddel, and William de la Zouche in keeping the question alive in official circles. Their efforts met with a measure of success: for when Queen Isabella attended the wedding of her daughter Joan to Robert Bruce's son and heir, David, one of the conditions of the peace treaty, she used the occasion to make representations on behalf of the disinherited lords. Her efforts, though, met with limited success; and by the end of 1328 Beaumont was high among the enemies of the new regime.

The Treaty of Northampton, concluded in the spring of 1328, brought the First War of Independence to a definite conclusion, with full English recognition of Scottish sovereignty and the regal rights of the house of Bruce. It was, however, a treaty that might be said to have created as many problems as it solved. It was not made with a mature King of England, backed by a willing Parliament, but by increasingly unpopular regents. It was widely felt that the settlement was a humiliation for England-a "turpis pax" or a shameful peace-a view that went all the way up to the young Edward III. Queen Isabella was above criticism, but Roger Mortimer, her lover and co-regent was not. At the Northampton Parliament, where the treaty terms agreed in Edinburgh came up for ratification, a number of magnates refused to give their assent, the Earl of Lancaster chief among them. Before the close of 1328 he had risen in rebellion with the earls of Norfolk and Kent. He was joined by his son-in-law, Thomas Wake of Liddel, Henry Beaumont, David de Strathbogie, now married to Beaumont's daughter, Katherine, Henry Ferrers and Thomas Rosselin, the nucleus of the party soon to be prominent supporters of Edward Balliol. The rising was short lived; and when Lancaster submitted in January 1329 so too did Strathbogie and Wake. Not so Henry Beaumont, who was specifically excluded from the royal pardon and forced into exile, where he continued to plot Mortimer's downfall. When Kent was arrested in March 1330 and charged with conspiring to restore Edward II, whom he had been deluded into believing was still alive, he alleged at his trial that Beaumont had met him in Paris and told him that the plot would be supported from Scotland by Donald, Earl of Mar, a close friend of the former king. Kent was executed and Beaumont faced a life of exile. He was helped by two things: the death of one king and the rise of another.

Disinherited agitation

The death of Robert Bruce in the summer of 1329 brought the five-year-old David II to the Scottish throne. This was important: for royal minorities were always times of great political uncertainty. Even more important for Beaumont and the disinherited lords was the English palace coup of October 1330, which saw Edward III take power from his mother and Mortimer. Beaumont returned to England, and before the end of the year the claims of the disinherited was moving up the political agenda. Some limited political representation was made to Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, Guardian of Scotland, who effectively side-stepped the whole issue. It was now that Beaumont turned to more militant action, with the tacit approval of the English king.

Aside from those like Beaumont, for whom the English government was prepared to make diplomatic representations, there was a large group who achieved no official recognition or support. First among these was David de Strathbogie, the pretender earl of Atholl, who also laid claim to half of John Comyn's Lochaber lands in right of his mother, Joan. The other half was claimed by Richard Talbot, an Englishman, who married Elizabeth Comyn, John's second daughter. The others included Gilbert de Umfraville, who laid claim to the earldom of Angus, once held by his family; Henry Ferrers, who claimed lands in Galloway, and Walter Comyn, the son of William Comyn of Kilbride in Lanarkshire. This group was augmented by those who had been displaced by the anti- Bruce Soules Conspiracy of 1320, principally the sons of Roger Mowbray-Geoffery, John and Alexander. Apart from these there was an even larger group of minor individuals who had fought on the losing side, and were now dependent on small handouts from the English exchequer. Their names are not recorded, but they are likely to have included the Macdoualls and Maccanns of Galloway, old vassals of the house of Balliol. Taken together these men, both high and low, represent the rump of the party defeated in Bruce's civil war. They found in Henry Beaumont a leader rich enough and influential enough to give shape to their dreams.

Beaumont's invasion

Edward Balliol had remained in England for some years after the release of his father in 1299. He appears still to have been in the country as late as 1320, when he figures on a list of the Scots adherents of Edward II. Thereafter, he was allowed to go into permanent retirement on his estates in Picardy, where his father had died some years before, for which he did homage to the kings of France. He seems to have taken little direct interest in his lost crown, but the matter was not entirely forgotten in England, and he was invited back with increasing fequency by successive regimes, with the possible intention of using him as a political alternative to Robert Bruce. Like Beaumont's claim to Buchan the matter was effectively closed by the Treaty of Northampton. He may have retired into historical obscurity but for the schemes of Beaumont, who first approached him while he was in exile. Thereafter, he was visited on a regular basis, finally being persuaded to settle in England in the winter of 1331.

Over the next few months Beaumont spent time gathering men, money and materials for an invasion of Scotland. None of this would have been possible without the support of King Edward. Even so, he was not yet prepared to countenance an open breach of the peace, so the disinherited had to plan for a seaborne attack. Beaumont's plan was bold to the point of foolhardiness, so it seems likely that he reckoned on the support of a native 'fifth column'. The armada finally set out from several Yorkshire ports at the end of July 1332. There is no coincidence to this: Thomas Randolph had died ten days before and Scotland was as yet without a leader.

An atmosphere of impending doom dominated Anglo-Scots relations towards the end of 1331. Randolph was fully aware of the growing menace. Parliament met at Scone, where it was agreed that the coronation of David Bruce proceed as quickly as possible. Towards the end of November he was crowned and anointed, the first monarch in Scottish history to receive this papal honour, by James Bennet, bishop of St. Andrews. The occasion was a triumphant postscript to the War of Independence, with all suggestion of subordination to England gone. But it was also in a sense the last act of an heroic age. Randolph now stood alone, the last of the great captains. Of the churchmen who had aided and assisted Robert Bruce, Robert Wishart was long dead, and had recently been joined by William Lamberton and David de Moravia Bishop of Moray. Their loss was soon felt. The "Lanercost Chronicle" says of David's coronation:

"About the feast of St. Andrew's Day David son of the late Robert de Bruce was anointed and crowned king of Scotland, and it was publicly proclaimed at his coronation that he claimed the right to Scotland by no hereditary succession, but in like manner as his father by conquest alone."

It does not seem very likely that this extraordinary claim was ever made-for it undermines the legitimacy conferred by anointing-but if it was it was a "causus belli"-an invitation to the pretender to press his claim by force of arms, if any further cause was needed.

In early August the disinherited landed on the coast of Fife. By this time Scotland had a new Guardian-Donald of Mar. This may have come as some encouragement, for Donald was thought to be sympathetic, and suspicion over his true loyalties was to do much to contribute to the coming disaster. In the event Donald remained loyal to his office, but his army was cut to pieces at the Battle of Dupplin Moor. This was a seminal battle in which Beaumont by a skilful combination of archers and men-at-arms created the prototype for the later English triumphs at Crécy and Agincourt. Scotland's defences evaporated and Balliol had his kingdom. On 24 September, less than a year after David, he was crowned at Scone by William Sinclair, Bishop of Dunkeld.

The victory at Dupplin was a considerable boost to Balliol's cause, but he received little of the expected support in Scotland. Apart from the old Balliol patrimony in Galloway, there was no evidence of any enthusiasm for the new king, and the Bruce partisans were soon active. Locked in the centre of a sullen and hostile country his little army, possibly no more than 2000 strong, needed the open support of King Edward. With the intention of re-establishing contact with England-and helping his beleaguered party in Galloway-Balliol marched south. At Roxburgh he issued letters indicating that he had already paid homage to Edward for Scotland, and promised substantial grants of land for his continuing aid. These letters were carried south by Beaumont, while Balliol prepared to winter in Galloway. At Annan in December what remained of his army was surprised and overwhelmed by Bruce supporters, while their king rode half-booted across the border. Beaumont's gamble had failed; Edward now had to make up his mind.

English response

Edward had observed events in Scotland with awakening ambition and much self-interest. Ironically, the speed of Balliol's success came close to being the cause of his undoing. Edward, observing how quickly Scotland had been overcome, no longer felt bound by prior commitment he had made to Balliol. Even the promises made at Roxburgh were no longer sufficient to satisfy the royal appetite. He no longer wanted a slice of the cake; he wanted the bakery. At the opening session of Parliament held in York Geoffery Scrope, Chief Justice of the King's Bench, and one of Edward's leading advisors, argued his case. Scrope began by saying that the peace of 1328 had been imposed on Edward when he was a minor and against his will. This being the case the situation was, in terms of feudal law, precisely what it had been in 1296: Scotland was still a forfeited fief of the English crown. Scrope proceeded to remind Parliament of the transgressions of the former King John Balliol against the present king's grandfather, and pointed out that the government was not in any way bound to support the cause of Edward Balliol. It was open to the king either to accept the Roxburgh Declaration, or to claim the whole of Scotland for himself. Edward clearly wanted the assembly to endorse the latter, but many of those present were reluctant to embark on a fresh Scottish adventure. Parliament was then prorogued to meet again in January 1333.

When it reassembled the changing picture in the north required some fresh thinking. Balliol's unexpected arrival in England had a sobering effect on Edward, causing him to scale down his ambitions. Scotland was not, after all, going to be the easy prize he imagined. Edward was now prepared to greet Balliol as an ally, and to settle for that part of Scotland promised at Roxburgh. As a first step towards this Balliol, of course, would have to be restored to his throne. Parliament was no more ready to endorse a military adventure, but Edward's mind was made up. Losing patience he dismissed the assembly and prepared for unilateral action. Preparations were now underway. Northampton was abandoned and Edward Balliol was proclaimed as King of Scotland. The disinherited were assisted with their own preparations, subsidies being paid to Beaumont and Strathbogie, as well as Balliol. Permission was also given for a cross-border invasion, denied the previous year.

Edward's preparations for war blinded him to all political caution. He was getting ready to set out on an enterprise which, if successful, would rob Scotland of a large proportion of her most economically productive territory, and force her to accept a foreign aristocracy headed by an alien king. The experience of Edward's grandfather should have shown him that Scotland could not be won on the outcome of a single battle; and despite the transitory success of Dupplin Moor Balliol had shown that he had insufficient support in the country to be able to stand on his own. Edward was therefore committing England to a war that could only be won by a considerable expenditure in men and materials. Time was to show that he had neither the patience nor the stamina to sustain the effort required.

Edward III's invasion

At the beginning of 1333 the atmosphere on the border was tense. England was openly preparing for war. In Scotland the new Guardian, Sir Archibald Douglas, brother of the late Sir James, the Black Douglas, made arrangements for the defence of Berwick upon Tweed. These preparations were complete by the time Balliol crossed the border on 10 March, advancing towards the east-coast port. The castle and town were invested, while Strathbogie devastated the surrounding countryside. The deceptions of the previous year were gone, and Balliol was acting quite openly in the English interest. The Second War of Independence was firmly underway.

There appears to have been no Scottish force in the vicinity of Berwick to prevent the siege taking hold. Douglas' only response was to launch a rather pointless raid into Gilsland on the western border on 22 March. All he achieved was a reprisal raid two days later and the first minor Scottish reverse at the Battle of Dornock, where William Douglas, the commander of Lochmaben Castle, later to achieve infamy as the Knight of Liddesdale, was captured. Dornock, according to Andrew Wyntoun, the Scottish chronicler, was a foretaste of an even greater disaster, destined to fall on the country that summer. The Guardian's actions also provided fuel for Edward's propaganda, allowing him to write to the king of France, denouncing the Scots as aggressors. Needless to say, Balliol's actions at Berwick were ignored.

Edward arrived at Berwick in May, a signal for the assault to begin in earnest. The town's defence was ably conducted by the governor, Sir Alexander Seton, but he was eventually forced to agree to surrender if not relieved by Tuesday, 20 July. Scotland was now faced with exactly the same position as England just prior to the Battle of Bannockburn: a defended position would have to be relieved as a matter of national pride.

The Guardian may have been the brother of one of Robert Bruce's greatest captains, but he inherited none of his qualities as a soldier. The Black Douglas had always followed the military precepts laid down by Robert Bruce, with their emphasis on speed, mobility and surprise. In 1319, when faced with an earlier siege of Berwick, Sir James led a wide sweeping probe into England, which took him as far as the gates of York. Local forces were defeated at the Battle of Myton, drawing the main English army away from the north. Archibald took a much more conventional approach, spending months in raising a large national army, while the enemy bit further and further into the defences of Berwick. With all initiative gone he marched towards the English, only to be overwhelmed on 19 July at the Battle of Halidon Hill, where the tactics of Dupplin Moor were used on a larger scale and to even more devastating effect. Douglas was killed along with five earls. They joined a casualty list that cannot be quantified with any precision, but may have run into thousands. The governing class of Scotland was virtually wiped out, in a battle whose effects were only exceeded by the even more disastrous contest at Flodden almost two centuries later.

Edward duly took possession of Berwick, his chief prize; but he seems to have been satisfied that the completeness of the victory required no further action on his part. Balliol marched into Scotland with an army possibly no stronger than that of 1332, while Edward returned south. Time was to show this to be a serious strategic error: for an opportunity passed that was never to come again. Edward Balliol did manage to establish himself in Scotland for a fairly lengthy period; but resistance to his rule, although weak, never entirely died out. In the dark summer of 1333 the Bruce cause was kept alive by the garrisons of a few scattered strongholds, In Mar, the Lady Christian Bruce, sister of the late king, held Kildrummy Castle. In the south-west John Thomson held the island fortress of Loch Doon in Carrick. Alan de Vipont held Loch Leven Castle, uncomfortably close to Perth, now King Balliol's capital, while Robert Lauder held Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness. The two most important castles still in the hands of the Bruce loyalists were Lochmaben, which commanded the west march, and Dumbarton under Malcolm Fleming, dominating the upper reaches of the Firth of Clyde. It was in Dumbarton that young King David and Queen Joan took refuge after Halidon. Here they remained throughout the dangerous winter of 1333-4, to be joined by David's nephew, Robert Stewart, who had been hiding on Bute after escaping the carnage outside Berwick.

Lochmaben finally fell to an Anglo-Scottish force led by Davide de Strathbogie in November 1333, and was to serve as the symbol of English mastery in Annandale for the next fifty years. The other castles, however, remained in the hands of the supporters of King David throughout the war. They were too widely scattered to represent an immediate danger to Balliol, but as long as they resisted, and as long as David remained at liberty, he could not really be regarded as the rightful king of Scotland. Rather than ignoring them Balliol may simply have lacked the men and materials necessary for their reduction without further English assistance. Any additional aid from Edward would obviously depend on fulfillment of the promise of November 1332.

French intervention

There is some evidence that Balliol was beginning to have worries about the sheer scale of the concession he had made at Roxburgh, but the vulnerability of his position would not allow the matter to be long evaded. He met Edward at Newcastle on 12 June 1334, where the full extent of the Roxburgh promise became known: all of English speaking Scotland was to be surrendered, six counties in all, including Edinburgh and Balliol's own patrimony in Galloway. It was from this point that the forces of national resistance, long dormant, acquired a more active and determined form. But even more alarming news reached him on his return to Scotland in the summer of 1334: the King of France was taking an interest in the fate of his northern ally.

After Halidon John Randolph, Earl of Moray had been able to escape to France in the company of those prelates who refused to follow the example of the Bishop of Dunkeld. In Paris he began to plead the cause of King David. Philip VI, the first of the Valois kings, was initially reluctant to involve himself in a quarrel seemingly lost. Moray persisted and was rewarded in early 1334 by Philip's recognition that there may still be life in the Bruce cause. As a first step he agreed to offer asylum to David and Joan, an act that was bound to be viewed in a hostile light by the English. Moray was given a gift of money to fit out a ship and bring them both to France. They arrived with their little court in May and were well received by the king, who allowed them to settle in Château-Gaillard in Normandy. This was to be their home for the next seven years.

The arrival of David Bruce in France brought a definite change in Anglo-French relations. Edward had recently sent an embassy charged with settling outstanding disputes in Gascony. Once these had been dealt with he even proposed to join Philip on a crusade, a project close to the French king's heart. `But Philip surprised the ambassadors by refusing to consider any treaty that did not address the Scottish question. This new firmness presented Edward with an unforeseen dilemma: if he hoped to recovery the lands lost by his father in France he would have to abandon Balliol and his newly won territories in Scotland. Some time after the failure of the English embassy the French ambassador to the court of Pope John XXII in Avignon explained the commitment his country had made to Scotland in the 1326 Treaty of Corbeil. The Pope, who clearly saw this as a potential cause for war, remarked that France was rich and her riches were desired by others.

Retreat of Balliol

Soon after Balliol's return to Perth it was clear that Dumbarton was becoming the centre of the new national resistance. It was from here that Robert Stewart struck the first blow by setting out to recover his ancestral lands, awarded after Halidon to Strathbogie. Together with Duncan Campbell of Lochawe he led a seaborne attack against Dunoon Castle in Cowal. The defenders were overwhelmed and Stewart established his own garrison. News of this spread to the loyal Stewart tenants on the Isle of Bute. Led by John Gibson, and armed with no more than the stones they found scattered on a hillside, they attacked and defeated Strathbogie's sheriff, Alan de Lisle, and took possession of Rothesay Castle. The Stewart was able to return to Bute in triumph after the 'Batayle Dormag'-Battle of the Casting Stones-and arranged for the security of the newly won castle.

With Moray now returned from France a council of war was held at Dumbarton, where plans for a major counter-offensive took shape. In July 1334 a little fleet under the joint leadership of Moray and Stewart left Dumbarton and crossed to Renfrewshire. They were joined by William Douglas of Liddesdale, recently released on ransom from English captivity. The Stewart was welcomed as a liberator by the people of Renfrew and the army, no doubt swelled by fresh recruits, advanced down Clydesdale, encountering little resistance along the way.

In a short space of time all of south-west Scotland north of Galloway was in the hands of the loyalists, demonstrating the extreme superficiality of Balliol's rule. Scottish government was re-established, the Stewart and Moray becoming joint Guardians of the realm. From Carrick the fighting continued into Galloway. As always, the contest here was bloody and bitter. It also seems to have been complicated by a civil war within a civil war. Balliol's territorial concessions seems to have caused his partisans to fracture, and Duncan Macdouall came over to the Bruce party with many others. His remaining supporters were rallied by Eustace Maxwell, who managed to retain a hold of eastern Dumfriesshire.

Scottish operations continued in those areas nominally under English control, by-passing King Balliol in nervous isolation at Perth. By the end of the year of the ceded counties only Berwickshire remained in enemy hands. The Lanercost Chronicle reflects on the magnitude of the crisis: "The number of Scots in rebellion against their King [Edward Balliol] increased daily, so that before the feast of St. Michael [29 September] nearly the whole of Scotland rose and drove the King to Berwick." Pleas were sent to King Edward for help; but it was already too late.

At this critical moment, seemingly blind to all reality, the Balliol faction at Perth fell apart in a dispute over land. Abandoning his king, Beaumont retired north to Buchan, taking refuge in the old Comyn stronghold of Dundarg Castle. Strathbogie retired to his own castle at Lochindorb, but he was intercepted and forced to yield to Moray on 27 September. He decided to save his life by switching his allegiance to King David, a defection that was to do the loyalists little good. Abandoned by all, Balliol fled to England for the second time in his life, narrowly avoiding a raiding party sent to catch him. All too late King Edward came north, but with winter approaching the situation was beyond retrieving. Beaumont, with no prospect of relief, surrendered at Dundarg in December. He was ransomed after a brief imprisonment, in time to take part in the great summer offensive of 1335.

econd English invasion

Scotland was ill-prepared for this fresh invasion, not yet having recovered from the upheavals of the previous year. The two Guardians, moreover, seem to have drifted apart, gathering rival parties around them. In April 1335 a Parliament was held at the castle of Dairsie near Cupar in Fife to try to agree a common strategy for dealing with the expected summer invasion. This was far from a happy occasion. Strathbogie had formed an intense dislike for Moray, who had captured him the previous autumn. Robert Stewart came under his influence, despite the fact that he had so recently been dispossessed by him. Scotland therefore had to face Edward's onslaught without a united leadership. Parliament did however agree to return to Robert Bruce's neglected scortched-earth policy, avoiding contact with the main English army.

For Edward the campaign of 1335 was clearly intended to make good the failure to build on the victory at Halidon Hill. Central Scotland was to be enveloped in a great pincer movement, with Edward heading the western arm and Balliol the east. The movement finally began in mid-July, closing at Perth by the end of the month, having caught nothing of substance in its grasp.

Moray, the driving force behind Scottish resistance, adhered carefully to the strategy agreed at Dairsie, confining his actions to small scale operations in the enemy rear. The chance for something a little more decisive came at the end of July, as Balliol and Edward were meeting in the centre of the country. A small party of knights and men-at-arms under Guy, Count of Namur, the cousin of Queen Philippa, had arrived at Berwick too tale to join the main army. Not pausing to consider the consequences of entering hostile territory with only a modest force Namur set off after the king. He made it as far as Edinburgh, where he was intercepted and defeated by Moray at the Battle of Boroughmuir. Namur was captured, led back to the border and released. There was more to this than simple chivalry: Namur was French and Moray had no wish to upset King Philip, Scotland's most vital ally. Unfortunately for Moray he was intercepted and captured on his way back north by the English garrison at Jedburgh.

At Perth Edward rested and awaited events. Strathbogie was quick to surrender, which was probably always his intention; but he brought with him Robert Stewart and the earls of Mentieth and Fife, leading Edward into the false belief that this was a surrender of the whole national community. At the end of September those who remained loyal to King David gathered at Dumbarton. The Bruce cause had been weakened by the defections at Perth and by the capture of Moray. National government, once again, had virtually ceased to exist. At this critical moment the Guardianship passed to Sir Andrew Murray, who was to prove himself more than equal to the demanding task. The son of Andrew Moray, the companion in arms of William Wallace, Muray had been first appointed to the office in 1332 after the death of Mar, but had been captured near Roxburgh. Now ransomed he was to devote the rest of his career to resisting both Balliol and the English occupation.

No sooner had he taken the task than an opportunity came for some decisive action. Edward had retired to Berwick, followed soon after by Balliol. Moping up in the north was left to Strathbogie, who began a campaign of attrition in Aberdeenshire, the centre-point of which was the attempted reduction of Kildrummy Castle, still held by Christian Bruce, who also happened to be Murray's wife. Gathering what force he could the Guardian advanced to the relief of Kildrummy, more men joining his standard on the way. On 30 November, St. Andrew's Day, Strathbogie was defeated and killed at the Battle of Culblean. Compared with the great contests at Dupplin and Halidon this was a relatively minor engagement. Nevertheless, it nullified the effects of Edward's summer campaign and exploded the illusions of Perth. The effects were immediately felt. Edward Balliol spent the winter of 1335-6, so says Lanercost, "with his people at Elande, in England, because he does not yet possess in Scotland any castle or town where he could dwell in safety."

Capture of David II

From the end of 1335 the war in Scotland increasingly becomes less of an event in itself, and more of a sub-text, so to speak, in the growing crisis in Anglo-French relations. There is also clear indications that Edward was growing tired of Balliol and his hopeless cause. The expense of the campaigns in Scotland was far in excess of the territorial or political returns. In 1336 Edward came north for a further time; but on this occasion his efforts were chiefly aimed at reducing the north-east of the country as a base for a possible French intervention-an increasingly likely prospect-rather than shoring up his client's crumbling throne. The struggle continued, but after the outbreak of the Hundred Years War in 1337 it was at best a side-show. Even Henry Beaumont lost interest, accompanying Edward to the Low Countries, where he died in 1340.

Gradually the castles held in Balliol's name, or by the English, were taken by Murray. By the time the Guardian died in 1338 only Perth and a few other strongholds remained. Attempts to recover ground were both limited in scope and largely ineffective. In 1338 an English force tried to capture the castle of Dunbar, held for King David by Agnes, Countess of Dunbar, sister of the Earl of Moray, known from her swarthy complexion as Black Agnes. She successfully fought off all attacks in a siege best summarised by the words the chronicler put into the mouth of the Earl of Salisbury, the English general: "Came I early, came I late, I found Black Agnes at the gate."

Perth fell in 1339, and what was left of Balliol's kingdom shrank to parts of Galloway. Scotland's political recovery was such that it was considered safe enough for David to return home in 1341. Now old enough to hold power for himself, from time to time he campaigned along the border. This was to change in dramatic fashion in 1346 when the Fabian strategy followed since 1334 was abandoned once again for a risky, full-scale mobilisation. In response to urgent pleas from King Philip, faced with an onslaught by Edward that was to end at the Battle of Crécy, David gathered a national army and invaded England. Outside Durham he was intercepted on 17 October and heavily defeated at the Battle of Neville's Cross. David was captured, the first Scottish king to be taken in action since William the Lion in the twelfth century. He was to spend the next eleven years in captivity.

The capture of David Bruce was arguably the most important political event in the northern wars since the surrender of John Balliol in 1296. It offered Edward a way of settling the long dispute between the houses of Bruce and Balliol in favour of his client. By this time, however, even Edward was aware of how little value Edward Balliol had, and the capture of David at least offered some way of making good his financial losses in Scotland.

In the wake of Neville's Cross Balliol, now little better than a frontier policeman, tried to make a comeback, with an outcome as depressingly familiar as all of his past efforts. Finally, now well into old-age, and a mood of exhausted despair, he surrendered his claim to Scotland to Edward III, "to the end that you may avenge me of mine enemies, the infamous Scots, who ruthlessly cast me off that I should not reign over them." He retired to Yorkshire, where he died in 1364, the last of the house of Balliol.

Peace of Berwick

With the inconvenient Balliol out of the way Edward was free to attend to matters as he saw fit. Negotiations concluded, David was finally released in October 1357 for an agreed ransom of 100,000 merks-£67,000-to be paid in ten installments.

The Treaty of Berwick, it is rightly said, settled no issue but that of David's release. Although he was given the title 'King of Scotland' in the treaty this did not imply recognition of the Bruce claim, and later English documents avoid referring to David as king. Berwick was in no sense a treaty of peace like Northampton. Many important issues were unresolved, most notably the English king's claim to be Lord Paramount of Scotland. It also left a significant part of southern Scotland still under English control: on the west march they continued to dominate Annandale from Lochmaben Castle, and in the east they held a large swath of territory in the vicinity of Berwick, Jedburgh and Roxburgh. All of this was unfinished business and the cause of future warfare. Nevertheless, viewed in retrospect, the Treaty of Berwick was a significant milestone, marking a definite conclusion in a way that the Treaty of Northampton failed to do. Never again was there to be any serious attempt to replace a Scottish king, or to end the country's political independence. For the remainder of Edward III's life the two countries were at peace. Future military action was of a limited nature for the most part, and warfare settled down to a long and often semi-official struggle on and around the borders. The Wars of Independence really were over.

ee also

*Wars of Scottish Independence
*First War of Scottish Independence



* "Anonimalle Chronicle, 1333-81", ed. V. H. Galbraith, 1927.
* Bower, Walter, "Scotichronicon," ed. D. E. R. Watt, 1987-96.
* "Brut, or the Chronicles of England", ed. F. W. D. Brie, 1906.
* Capgrave, John, "The Book of the Illustrious Henries", ed. F. Hingeston, 1858.
* C"alendar of Documents Relating to Scotland", ed. J. Bain, 1857.
* Fordun, John, "Chronicles of the Scottish Nation", ed. W. F. Skene, 1872.
* Gray, Thomas, "Scalicronica", ed. H. Maxwell, 1913.
* "The Lanercost Chronicle", ed. H. Maxwell, 1913.
* Wyntoun, Andrew, "The Original Chronicle of Scotland", ed. F. J. Amours, 1907.


* Balfour-Melville, E. W. M, "Edward III and David II", 1954.
* Campbell, T., "England, Scotland and the Hundred Years War", in "Europe in the Late Middle Ages," ed. J. Hale et al, 1970.
* Duncan, A. A. M., "Honi soit qui mal y pense: David II and Edward III", in the Scottish Historical Review, vol. 67, 1988.
* Nicholson, R., "Edward III and the Scots", 1965.
* Nicholson, R., "Scotland: the Later Middle Ages", 1974.
* Brown, C.K., "The Second Scottish War of Independence", 2001
* Paterson, R. C., "Edward Balliol", in Military History, April 2003.
* Reid, R. C., "Edward de Balliol", in "Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Antiquarian and Natural History Society", vol. 35 1956-7.

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