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Wallace triumphant

William Wallace’s victory at Stirling Bridge inspired the Scots in their struggle against the overlordship of Edward I. Julian Humphrys looks at how and why it happened
SINKING FEELING William Wallace’s army clashes with the English on the marshy banks of the river Forth
ILLUSTRATION: ANDREW HILLHOUSE, GETTY X1, REX/SHUTTERSTOCK X1

BATTLE CONTEXT

When

11 September 1297

Where

Stirling, Scotland

Who

English (Earl of Surrey, Hugh de Cressingham): 6,500 infantry, 350 cavalry

Scots (William Wallace, Andrew de Moray): 6,000 infantry,

180 cavalry

Why

Scottish resistance to rule of Edward I

Result

Scottish victory

Edward I meant business. The King of Scotland and his nobles had dared to defy him, and now they were going to pay the price. The first Scottish town to feel Edward’s wrath was Berwick. On Good Friday 1296, he ordered an all-out assault on the town, which was rapidly overrun, thoroughly sacked, and many of its inhabitants (who had rather unwisely taunted the English by baring their bottoms at them) put to the sword. Four weeks later, his army fell on the Scots at Dunbar and routed them – over 171 earls, knights and squires were taken prisoner.

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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

Discover the real King Arthur with our exclusive article from archaeologist Miles Russell, who believes that the legendary figure was in fact a Dark Age warlord. Elsewhere, Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell go head to head, take a look at life on the Thames in the Victorian era, and learn about the forgotten storyteller who wrote one of our most-loved fairytales.