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1314: The Year of Bannockburn (Hardback)

Military P&S History > By Century > 14th Century World History > UK & Ireland > Scotland

By Callum Watson
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 280
Illustrations: 12 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399035187
Published: 21st May 2024

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The Battle of Bannockburn has long been recognised as one of the most influential moments in Scottish history. The fighting that took place on 23rd and 24th June 1314 is frequently presented as a stirring tale of how a small but committed and well-organised militia army can overcome a larger, better-resourced foe, as well as a crucial early turning point in the long, bitter, and destructive conflicts between Scotland and in England in the late medieval and early modern period. This book offers an in-depth study of the immediate context of the battle, looking in detail at the preparations that both sides undertook in the months leading up to the conflict, and the reactions of the two sides to the outcome following months, aspects which have been overlooked in previous studies.

Dr Callum Watson considers the state of affairs in Scotland in the autumn of 1313 and how this influenced Edward II's decision to invade Scotland in 1314. He explores the possibility that King Robert was unwell during this period and considers the influence this had on the outlook and activities of both sides leading up to the battle. He reconstructs the initial Scottish response to this threat, while examining the preparations made by the English crown for the proposed campaign and tracking these alongside Scottish military activities. Detailed consideration is given to what we know about the siege of Stirling and the resultant deal made between the Scots and the Stirling garrison, highlighting how this development fundamentally altered the expectations of both armies and placed them inexorably on the path to direct confrontation at Bannockburn.

The battle itself is closely examined, taking into account how Bruce's preparations in the weeks before the event and his inventive use of the landscape secured victory for the Scots. The immediate fall-out of the battle is also discussed, covering efforts by the English crown to consolidate the defences of northern England against renewed Scottish raiding, the experience of English widows created by the battle to secure their rights, and the cautious attempts at diplomacy – including arrangements made for the exchange of prisoners – undertaken in the months that followed. Finally, Bruce's parliament at Cambuskenneth Abbey in November 1314 is discussed alongside how the gradual redistribution of lands that this facilitated shaped the history of Scotland for the remainder of the fourteenth-century.

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About Callum Watson

Callum Watson has PhD in History from the University of Edinburgh, with a focus on warfare, politics, and society in late medieval Scotland. He works for the National Trust for Scotland at the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre, where he provides guided tours of the exhibition and the battlefield. He writes on various subjects relating to Scotland's fourteenth– and fifteenth–century history at Knight of the Two L's blog, drcallumwatson.blogspot.com, which is regularly featured in Dubh Ghlase newsletter of the Clan Douglas Society of North America, and can be found on Facebook www.facebook.com/DrCallumWatson and Instagram www.instagram.com/cpwatson1375. He has appeared in BBC's 'Rise of the Clans' episodes on Robert Bruce and James I, and in Channel 5's 'Britain's Lost Battlefields' episode on Bannockburn, as well as serving as one of the historical advisors for the Netflix film 'Outlaw King'. His recently published article appeared in the September episode of History Scotland, on non-noble Scots in Barbour's Bruce, and has been interviewed by the Herald to promote a presentation given as part of the History Scotland seminar series.

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