September 11th 1297: The Battle of Stirling Bridge

Discussion in 'Scotland/Alba' started by editor, Sep 11, 2018.

  1. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    Great bit of history here from The History of Wales:


    On September 11th 1297, The Battle of Stirling Bridge occurred. It was the scene of William Wallace's greatest triumph against the English.

    The 'name' Wallace is an old Scots term meaning Welsh speaking or 'of Welsh stock' and although William Wallace was born and raised in Scotland, it is almost certain that his ancestors were Welsh. The Wallace's left Oswestry, which up until that time was in Wales, for Scotland around the year 1170.

    The town of Stirling was the key entry point to the north of Scotland and a mighty English Army under the command of the Earl of Surrey had arrived in Stirling on a mission to put down Scots resistance to English rule. The Scots waited until half of the English force had crossed the bridge. Then William Wallace led a charge that cut into the unprepared English, splitting their army in two, and reinforcements from the far bank could only be sent in twos across the bridge. Most of the men who had crossed were killed by the Scots and the English baggage train was captured. Surrey fled south to Berwick.

    Wallace went on to lead a destructive raid into northern England and by March 1298, he had emerged as Guardian of Scotland. His glory, however, was brief, for Edward I, who had returned from Flanders, led a force north himself. The two men finally met on the field of Falkirk in the summer of 1298, where Wallace was defeated and forced to go on the run.

    Wallace evaded capture until 5 August 1305 when he was turned over to the English and transported to London, where he was tried and found guilty of treason. In his defence, his stated that he was never Edward's subject and, therefore, could not be a traitor.

    However on 23rd August 1305, he was stripped naked and dragged through the city at the heels of a horse to the Elms at Smithfield, where he was hanged, drawn and quartered, released whilst still alive, emasculated and his bowels burnt in front of him. He was then beheaded and his preserved head (dipped in tar) was placed on a pike on top of London Bridge.
    S☼I likes this.
  2. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Thanks editor. Interesting essay.

    Would point out a couple of areas that might be of general interest, though.

    This isn't the generally accepted version. Well, it's close, but misunderstands something quite fundamental: that the language we now call Welsh is the descendant of the language and dialects spoken over a large part of the British Isles in the past, including much of what is now Scotland. There is no evidence that Wallace's family came from Shropshire. The explanation was back-formation from the fact that "Wallace", "Welsh" and so on were commonly used by English speakers of those in the Welsh Marches and indeed Cumbria. It's now generally accepted that there's a simpler and better explanation.

    Alt Clud was the kingdom of Britons in the West of (what is now) Scotland. Its ancient capital, the stronghold of Dumbarton Rock, was Dùn Breatainn, the stronghold of the Britons. The language spoken there was a predecessor of Modern Welsh. By the time of Wallace's assumed birth, Alt Clud, also called the Kingdom of Strathclyde, had been part of Scotland less than two centuries. Many people there would still have spoken ancient British. Scotland was not a uniform linguistic culture. To the Gaels, the term for a linguistic Briton was Uallas, "Welshman". "Wallace" was probably not his surname, but rather the nickname given him by people who did not share his linguistic heritage: William the British-Speaker. His reputed birthplace of Elderslie is within the area of Alt Clud. Even if he was not himself a "Welsh" speaker, it is perfectly reasonable to assume it is that heritage that led the the designation "Wallace". (There are reports that his father shared that name, but we can't be sure who his father was: different sources list either Malcolm or Alan as being his father's name).

    Norman Davis, in his book Vanished Kingdoms, (2012), covers this briefly on pp79-80. He also notes the reports that Wallace was also known by the name Uilleam Breatnach, "William the Briton". This is perfectly consistent with "Wallace", with the known history (then recent) of Strathclyde, and with his Norman French designation, le Waleys.
  3. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    There's a lively discussion going on in the FB comments on this topic with people arguing both sides of the story.
    S☼I and danny la rouge like this.
  4. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    I'm not able to see it. I'm glad such an arcane matter is the cause of lively debate though. :D

    However, I do think it literally diminishes the linguistic heritage of modern Welsh to shrink its coverage by assuming people called Wallace can only have come from within spitting distance of Offa's Dyke. That's far from the case.
    S☼I and weepiper like this.
  5. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Starry Wisdom

    could have been nearer cardigan bay
  6. JimW

    JimW 支那暗杀团

    Livin' in Armoricaaaaa
    danny la rouge likes this.
  7. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    They didn't fuck about in them days!
  8. weepiper

    weepiper Jock under the bed

    That's even a bit pessimistic. The Britons extended right up to the Forth at least - the earliest written Welsh is about a battle one side of which was a tribe living in Edinburgh.
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  9. JimW

    JimW 支那暗杀团

    Y Gododdin!
    danny la rouge likes this.
  10. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Depends on the dates, of course, but during the Roman occupation, it was this:

    kebabking likes this.
  11. JimW

    JimW 支那暗杀团

    I didn't realise the Scots came to Argyll during the Roman period, always assumed it was after.
  12. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Well, it's contested, but there's a strong, and now quite widely accepted, argument that Argyll shared a culture with Ireland rather than the rest of Scotland from at least the Iron Age, separated as it is by geography: mountains creating the division, and sea routes creating the links. The mass migration theory is not supported by archaeological evidence, place name evidence, or any other evidence. Even Roman accounts allow for the continuity theory.

    Which is not the same as saying that the power structures were unchanging throughout that period. The Antrim-Argyll Kingdom known as Dalriada certainly reached its height at the time you suggest.

    It's important to separate out ethnicity and polity. (Indeed a study of the Burgundians would caution one to separate location, too).
  13. JimW

    JimW 支那暗杀团

    That bit about the sea routes was brought home on something I watched about the Norse settlements on the isles, how seemingly long distances by sea were so much easier to travel than overland, hence settlement patterns not being what a modern eye might expect.
  14. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Even if you just hold a map of Scandinavia and the British Isles what we would call "upside down" and look across from Norway to Sheltand and Orkney, and on through the Hebrides to the Irish Sea, you get a completely different conception of the geography.
    kebabking and JimW like this.
  15. kebabking

    kebabking Unfettered ambition

    There's a book on (based around) Oswald of Northumbria by an Archaeologist called Max Adams of the Bernicia Studies Group that is worth a read on this subject - the relationships between the AS kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia, and the British kingdoms of Powys, Gwynedd, Rehged and Strathclyde, the Irish in Dal Raida, and the Picts in err... Pictland.

    Short version - 'Welsh' meant, from the 5th century at a minimum, to the 1100's at least, anyone from Cornwall, Wales, Cumbria and Strathclyde, and culturally and linguistically it went on till at least 1300.
  16. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Starry Wisdom

    lest we forget
    battle of stirling, july 2005
    Poi E likes this.
  17. JimW

    JimW 支那暗杀团

    Just read this and thought imagine the regret if your sentence was later reduced on appeal. More likely to a peel, I expect.
  18. petee

    petee i'm spartacus

    there's an old saw amongst historians, "the sea unites, the land divides."
  19. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    It is, if you will, a sea saw.

    It used to be better known. Its fortunes go up and down.
    weepiper, petee, kebabking and 3 others like this.
  20. Sasaferrato

    Sasaferrato Grateful for what I have.

    There is a memorial plaque on the wall of Bart's, facing Smithfield, where he was executed.
    Poi E likes this.
  21. Argonia

    Argonia Happy go licky

    Poor old William Wallace, what a horrible way to go.
  22. Poi E

    Poi E Pessimism: a valuable protection against quackery.

    He knew what he was getting into.
  23. Idaho

    Idaho blah blah blah

    I'm sure he orchestrated a fair amount of murder and mutilation during his career.
  24. Argonia

    Argonia Happy go licky

    Well that's true I suppose.

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