The second War of Independence: 1332-1357

  • Dupplin Moor
  • Dornock
  • Halidon Hill
  • Boroughmuir
  • Culblean
  • Neville's Cross
  • Berwick

Edward 111 and Balliol

After Robert the Bruce's death, King David II was too young to rule, so the guardianship was assumed by Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray. But Edward III, despite having given his name to the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, was determined to avenge the humiliation by the Scots and he could count on the assistance of Edward Balliol, the son of John Balliol and a claimant to the Scottish throne.

Edward III also had the support of a group of Scottish nobles, led by Balliol and Henry Beaumont, known as the 'Disinherited.' This group of nobles had supported the English in the First War and, after Bannockburn, Robert the Bruce had deprived them of their titles and lands, granting them to his allies. When peace was concluded, they received no war reparations. These disinherited were hungry for their old lands and would prove to be the undoing of the peace.

The Earl of Moray died July 20, 1332. The Scots nobility gathered at Perth where they elected Domhnall II, Earl of Mar as the new Guardian. Meanwhile a small band led by Balliol had set sail from the River Humber. Consisting of the disinherited noblemen and mercenaries, they were probably no more than a few hundred men strong.

Edward III was still formally at peace with David II and his dealings with Balliol were therefore deliberately obscured. He of course knew what was happening and Balliol probably did homage in secret before leaving, but Balliol's desperate scheme must have seemed doomed to failure. Edward therefore refused to allow Balliol to invade Scotland from across the River Tweed. This would have been too open a breach of the treaty. He agreed to turn a blind eye to an invasion by sea, but made it clear that he would disavow them and confiscate all their English lands should Balliol and his friends fail.

The 'disinherited' landed at Kinghorn in Fife on 6 August. The news of their advance had preceded them, and, as they marched towards Perth, they found their route barred by a large Scottish army, mostly of infantry, under the new Guardian.

At the Battle of Dupplin Moor, Balliol's army, commanded by Henry Beaumont, defeated the larger Scottish force. Beaumont made use of the same tactics that the English would make famous under the Hundred Years' War, with dismounted knights in the centre and archers on the flanks. Caught in the murderous rain of arrows, most of the Scots never reached the enemy's line. When the slaughter was finally over, the Earl of Mar, Sir Robert Bruce (an illegitimate son of Robert the Bruce), many nobles and around 2,000 Scots had been slain. Edward Balliol then had himself crowned as King of Scots, first at Perth, and then again in September at Scone Abbey. Balliol's success surprised Edward III, and fearing that Balliol's invasion would eventually fail leading to a Scots invasion of England, he moved north with his army.

In October, Sir Archibald Douglas, now Guardian of Scotland, made a truce with Balliol, supposedly to let the Scottish Parliament assemble and decide who their true king was. Emboldened by the truce, Balliol dismissed most of his English troops and moved to Annan, on the north shore of the Solway Firth. He issued two public letters, saying that with the help of England he had reclaimed his kingdom, and acknowledged that Scotland had always been a fief of England. He also promised land for Edward III on the border, including Berwick-on-Tweed, and that he would serve Edward for the rest of his life. But in December, Douglas attacked Balliol at Annan in the early hours of the morning. Most of Balliol's men were killed, though he himself managed to escape through a hole in the wall, and fled, naked and on horse, to Carlisle.

In April 1333, Edward III and Balliol, with a large English army, laid siege to Berwick. Archibald Douglas attempted to relieve the town in July, but was defeated and killed at the Battle of Halidon Hill. David II and his Queen were moved to the safety of Dumbarton Castle, while Berwick surrendered and was annexed by Edward. By now, much of Scotland was under English occupation, with eight of the Scottish lowland counties being ceded to England by Edward Balliol.

At the beginning of 1334, Philip VI of France offered to bring David II and his court to France for asylum, and in May they arrived in France, setting up a court-in-exile at Château-Gaillard in Normandy. Philip also decided to derail the Anglo-French peace negotiations then taking place (at the time England and France were engaged in disputes that would lead to the Hundred Years' War), declaring to Edward III that any treaty between France and England must include the exiled King of Scots.

In David's absence, a series of Guardians kept up the struggle. In November, Edward III invaded again, but he accomplished little and retreated in February 1335 due to bad weather. He and Edward Balliol returned again in July with an army of 13,000, and advanced through Scotland, first to Glasgow and then Perth, where Edward III installed himself as his army looted and destroyed the surrounding countryside. At this time, the Scots followed a plan of avoiding pitched battles and evacuated the inhabitants of the lowlands as much as possible, moving them to the safety of the hills. Some Scots leaders, including the Earl of Atholl and the High Steward submitted to Edward at Perth.

Following Edward's return to England, the remaining leaders of the Scots resistance chose Sir Andrew Murray as Guardian. He soon negotiated a truce with Edward until April 1336, during which, various French and Papal emissaries attempted to negotiate a peace between the two countries. In January, the Scots drew up a draft treaty agreeing to recognise the elderly and childless Edward Balliol as King, so long as David II would be his heir and David would leave France to live in England. However, David II rejected the peace proposal and any further truces. In May, an English army under Henry of Lancaster invaded, followed in July by another army under King Edward. Together, they ravaged much of the north-east and sacked Elgin and Aberdeen, while a third army ravaged the south-west and the Clyde valley. Prompted by this invasion, Philip VI of France announced that he intended to aid the Scots by every means in his power, and that he had a large fleet and army preparing to invade both England and Scotland. Edward soon returned to England, while the Scots, under Murray, captured and destroyed English strongholds and ravaged the countryside, making it uninhabitable for the English.

Although Edward III invaded again, he was becoming more anxious over the possible French invasion, and by late 1336, the Scots had regained control over virtually all of Scotland and by 1338 the tide had turned. While 'Black Agnes', Countess-consort Dunbar/March, continued to resist the English laying siege to Dunbar Castle, hurling defiance and abuse from the walls, Scotland received some breathing space when Edward III claimed the French throne and took his army to Flanders, beginning the Hundred Years' War with France.

So, in just nine years, the kingdom so hard won by Robert the Bruce had been shattered. Many of his experienced nobles were dead and the economy which had barely begun to recover from the earlier wars was once again in tatters. It was to an impoverished country in need of peace and good government that David II was finally able to return in June 1341.

David 1

When David returned, he was determined to live up to the memory of his illustrious father. He ignored truces with England and was determined to stand by his ally Philip VI during the early years of the Hundred Years' War. In 1341 he led a raid into England, forcing Edward III to lead an army north to reinforce the border. In 1346, after more Scottish raids, Philip VI appealed for a counter invasion of England in order to relieve the English stranglehold on Calais. David gladly accepted and personally led a Scots army of over 12,000 men southwards with intention of capturing Durham. In reply, an English army, of 5,000 men, moved northwards from Yorkshire to confront the Scots. On October 14, at the Battle of Neville's Cross, the Scots were defeated. They suffered heavy casualties and David was wounded in the face by two arrows before being captured. He was sufficiently strong however to knock out two teeth from the mouth of his captor. After a period of convalescence, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he was held prisoner for eleven years, during which time Scotland was ruled by his nephew, Robert Stewart, 7th High Steward. Edward Balliol returned to Scotland soon afterwards with a small force, in a final attempt to recover Scotland. He only succeeded in gaining control of some of Galloway, with his power diminishing there until 1355. He finally resigned his claim to the Scottish throne in January 1356 and died childless in 1364.

Finally, on October 3, 1357, David was released under the Treaty of Berwick, under which the Scots agreed to pay an enormous ransom of 100,000 merks for him (1 merk was ⅔ of an English pound) payable in ten years. Heavy taxation was needed to provide funds for the ransom, which was to be paid in instalments, and David alienated his subjects by using the money for his own purposes. The country was in a sorry state when; she had been ravaged by war and also the Black Death. The first instalment of the ransom was paid punctually. The second was late and after that no more could be paid.

In 1363, David went to London and agreed that should he die childless, the crown would pass to Edward (his brother-in-law) or one of his sons, with the Stone of Destiny being returned for their coronation as King of Scots. The Scots rejected this arrangement, offered to continue paying the ransom (now increased to 100,000 pounds) and threatened to depose David. A twenty five year truce was agreed and in 1369, the treaty of 1365 was cancelled and a new one set up to the Scots benefit, due to the influence of the war with France. The new terms saw the 44,000 marks already paid deducted from the original 100,000 with the balance due in instalments of 4,000 for the next fourteen years.

When Edward died in 1377, there were still 24,000 marks owed which were never paid. David himself had lost his popularity and lost the respect of his nobles when he married the widow of a minor laird (Lord) after the death of his English wife. He himself died in February 1371.

Last updated: Tuesday, January 26, 2021 2:56 PM