Famous Men of the Middle Ages
King from 1306-1329
The most famous king that Scotland ever had was Robert Bruce. He lived in the days
when Edward I, Edward II, and Edward III were kings of England.
During the reign of Edward I the king of Scotland died and thirteen men claimed the
throne. Instead of fighting to decide which of them should be king they asked Edward to
settle the question. When he met the Scottish nobles and the rivals, each of whom thought
that next day he would be wearing the crown, Edward told them that he would himself be
their king. Just then an English army marched up. What could the nobles do but kneel at
the feet of Edward and promise to be his vassals? This they did; and so Scotland became
a part of Edward's kingdom and Baliol (Ba'-li-ol), one of the rivals who claimed the
Scottish throne, was made the vassal king.
Some time after this Edward ordered Baliol to raise an army and help him fight the
French. Baliol refused to do this, so Edward marched with an army into Scotland and
took him prisoner. He was determined that the Scotch should have no more kings of their
own. So he carried away the sacred stone of Scone (scoon), on which all kings of
Scotland had to sit when they were crowned, and put it in Westminster Abbey in London,
and there it is to this day. [NOTE FROM Brett Fishburne: As of 1994, the stone is in
Edinburgh Castle.] It is underneath the chair on which the sovereigns of England always
sit when the crown of England, Scotland, and Ireland is placed upon their heads. It is said
to have been the very stone that Jacob used for a pillow on the night that he saw, in his
dream, angels ascending and descending on the ladder that reached from earth to heaven.
Edward now supposed, as he had this sacred stone and had put King Baliol in prison, that
Scotland was conquered.
But the men whom he appointed to govern the Scotch ruled unwisely and nearly all the
people were discontented. Suddenly an army of Scots was raised. It was led by Sir
William Wallace, a knight who was almost a giant in size. Wallace's men drove the
English out of the country and Wallace was made the "Guardian of the Realm."
Edward then led a great army against him. The Scottish soldiers were nearly all on foot.
Wallace arranged them in hollow squares--spearmen on the outside, bowmen within. The
English horsemen dashed vainly against the walls of spear-points. But King Edward now
brought his archers to the front. Thousands of arrows flew from their bows and thousands
of Wallace's men fell dead. The spears were broken and the Scotch were defeated.
Wallace barely escaped with his life. He was afterwards betrayed to Edward, who cruelly
put him to death.