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The Scottish Wars of Independence, 1286-1329

To many, this period of Scottish history means William Wallace and Robert Bruce, but it is much more than the lives of these two men alone. It involves relationships between Scotland, England, France and the Papacy, and the various alliances and treaties made and broken between them in the pursuit of kingship, power and authority.

The Scottish Wars of Independence highlight the impact of the development of Scotland’s identity as a nation prepared to consolidate a rightful successor to the throne, to improve the effectiveness of government and to maintain its position and influence in European politics, trade and religion.

It was a time of conflict between rival factions in Scotland and beyond. Loyalties were frequently put to the test as a result of cross border marriages between Scottish and English noble families, and as a result of marriage treaties between European royal families. It was also a time of military campaigns and diplomatic missions to harness support for claims of sovereignty and overlordship. The kings of England attempted to occupy and govern Scotland and went to war with France over control of lands in Gascony. In addition, the papacy did not want conflict between these countries to interfere with plans to mount crusades in the Holy Land.

The Declaration of Arbroath and the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton set out Scotland’s demands for recognition as an independent nation governed by its own rightful monarch. The succession to the Scottish throne was safeguarded after the death of Robert I in 1329 but relations between Scotland and England remained difficult for years to come.

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March: Death of Alexander III
April: Six Guardians of Scotland selected at Scone


Sept: Maid of Norway dies on her way to Orkney


Aug: The Great Cause begins


Nov: John Balliol chosen and inaugurated King of Scots


Edward I summons Scots to fight in France


Scots seek alliance with King Philip IV of France


March: Scots attack England
April: Battle of Dunbar
July: King John surrenders to Edward I


William Wallace and Andrew Murray rebel
Sept: Scottish victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge
Nov: Death of Andrew Murray


Scottish defeat at the Battle of Falkirk


Edward I and son campaign in south Scotland


After Papal urging, John Balliol released into custody of King Philip of France


King Philip forced into treaty with Edward I. Scotland now isolated


Edward I invades Scotland again. John Comyn and nobles surrender to English king


Aug: William Wallace captured and executed


Feb: Robert Bruce murders John Comyn at Dumfries Abbey
March: Robert I inaugurated at Scone


May: Battle of Loudon Hill
July: Death of Edward I, succeeded by Edward II


Aug: King Robert's campaigns in Scotland; wins the Battle of the Pass of Brander


King Robert's first parliament in St Andrews


Edward II invades Scotland


Scottish victory at the Battle of Bannockburn


Death of Edward Bruce
Robert I excommunicated by Pope John XXII


April: Declaration of Arbroath


Edward II's last invasion of Scotland fails


Jan: Edward II deposed and murdered by English opposition
Feb: Coronation of Edward III


March: Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton


June: Death of Robert I




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