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``In the year of our Lord 1314, patriots of Scotland, starving and outnumbered, charged the fields of Bannockburn. They fought like warrior poets. They fought like Scotsmen. And won their freedom.'' —from the movie Braveheart

Scots Wha' Hae

by Robert Burns

Scots, wha hae wi Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victorie!

Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power -
Chains and slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor-knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a Slave?
Let him turn and flie!

Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa'
Let him follow me!

By Oppression's woes and pains!
By your Sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud Usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in ev'ry foe!
Liberty's in ev'ry blow! -
Let us do — or die!

From The Brus, by John Barbour, c. 1375

Bruce's address to his captains before Bannockburn
(See also the modern English version.)

And certis me think well that ye
Forout abasing aucht to be
Worthy and of gret vasselagis
For we haff thre gret avantagis
The fyrst is that we haf the rycht
And for the rycht ay God will fycht.
The tother is that thai cummyn ar
For lyppynyng off thar gret powar
To sek us in our awne land,
And has brocht her rycht till our hand
Ryches into sa gret quantit´e
That the pourest of you sall be
Bath rych and mychty tharwithall
Giff that we wyne, as weill may fall.
The thrid is that we for our lyvis
And for our childer and for our wyyis
And for our fredome and for our land
Ar strenyeit in bataill for to stand,
And thai for thar mycht anerly
And for thai let of us heychtly
And for thai wad distroy us all
Mais thaim to fycht, bot yeit may fall
That thai sall rew thar barganyng.
And certis I warne you off a thing
That happyn thaim, as God forbed,
Till fynd fantis intill our deid
That thai wyn us opynly
Thai sall off us haf na mercy,
And sen we knaw thar felone will
Me think it suld accord to skill
To set stoutnes agayne felony
And mak sa-gat a juperty.
Quharfor I you requer and pray
That with all your mycht that ye may
That ye pres you at the begynnyng
But cowardys or abaysing
To mete thaim at sall fyrst assemble
Sa stoutly that the henmaist trymble
And menys of your gret manheid
Your worschip and your douchti deid
And off the joy that we abid
Giff that us fall, as well may tid,
Hap to vencus this gret bataill.
In your handys without faile
Ye ber honour price and riches
Fredome welsh and blythnes
Giff you contene you manlely,
And the contrar all halily
Sall fall giff ye lat cowardys
And wykytnes your hertis suppris.
Ye mycht have lyvyt into threldome,
Bot for ye yarnyt till have fredome
Ye ar assemblyt her with me,
Tharfor is nedfull that ye be
Worthy and wycht but abaysing ...

... Giff ye will wyrk apon this wis
Ye sall haff victour sekyrly.

Bruce statue at Bannockburn

The Battle of Bannockburn, 1314, 23-24 June

The significance of this battle on a field near Stirling is undisputed: Scottish forces under King Robert I the Bruce defeated English King Edward II, in the pivotal event of the wars of Scottish independence. Exactly how the battle was won is not completely clear, since nobody wrote down a detailed account until much later.

Bannockburn The most common view was set forth about 1375 in the poem The Brus, by John Barbour. It was echoed by Robert Burns in ``Scots Wha Hae,'' a song known to every descendant of Scotland. And even more recently, in 1995, the movie Braveheart gave yet another version. Powerful stuff. This battle, along with those of Wallace before it and the Declaration of Arbroath after it, were the inspiration not only for Scotland's independence, but were also powerful influences on the American and French revolutions, and thus on the shape of the world that we know today.

Yet there is some dispute as to whether ``the small people'' of Scotland, no matter how well motivated, could have won the day against proud Edward's battle-hardened professional army. Barbour's work has been called ``A poets view not History,'' and that's certainly even more true of Robert Burns or Mel Gibson. There is a school of thought that says that the battle was turned at the [Knights Templar] crucial moment by a charge of the Knights Templar, who had taken refuge in Scotland after they had been expelled from France in 1307. As one version has it:

From: "Privateers" <>
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 17:13:52 +0100

``...the great King Robert the Bruce supported by the Knights Templar led by Sir William Sinclair with an army of only 9,000, defeated 38,000 Englishmen, the Scots facing heavy calvary, archers and wave upon wave of staunch and brave Englishmen.

On that day, it was the crushing charge of the Knights Templar across rocky and almost impassable ground that turned the tide of victory. That far off day, almost seven hundred years ago, they won for Scotland her independence.

However it happened, it is clear that Sinclairs had a role in it. The Bruce had made [Roslin Castle] William Sinclair (of the Rosslyn Branch) Bishop of Dunkeld. His brother Henry Sinclair, eighth Baron of Roslin, great-grandfather of Prince Henry Sinclair, fought for the Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314, just as he had fought with Wallace at the Battle of Rosslyn in 1304, and just as he signed the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320.

It has also been asserted recently in Scotland on Sunday that John Barbour's father was a barber, and specifically barber to William Sinclair, Bishop of Dunkeld. It is known that John Barbour's first job was at the Cathedral of Dunkeld. It is known that the Bruce's grandson, King Robert II, gave Barbour a pension. Many Sinclairs believe that it was Bishop William who commissioned John Barbour to write the poem.


Small Folk Saved the Day at Bannockburn?

From: "Privateers" <>
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 18:09:15 +0100

Bannockburn was not a site of King Robert's choosing. Robert's brother Edward Bruce had agreed with Sir Philip Mowbray (a Scot in command of English occupying Stirling) that a year's truce would be had and the English would either reinforce the garrison or it would be surrendered to the Scots. Edward Bruce made this agreement after besieging Stirling from Lent to midsummer. This agreement forced Robert to the one thing he had sought throughout the long campaign to avoid, a test of strength. The battle like the site was forced upon the King. Like William Wallace at Falkirk the Bruce carefully placed himself in a position the restricted English cavalry. Scots were outnumbered three or four to one. Scottish morale was high. Thomas Randolph the best of Bruce's lieutenants had taken Edinburgh in March of 1314. Bruce had one great advantage Wallace lacked at Falkirk, a force of 500 light cavalry and the Knights Templar. Sir Robert Keith commanded the light cavalry whilst the Knights Templar were led by Sir William Sinclair.

On the 23rd of June 1314 AD shortly before the battled joined the King mounted on a highland pony rode in inspection of his battle line. One young and ambitious English knight, Henry de Bohun, charged the King. Robert, the greatest Knight in spite his age, held firm. At the last moment Robert moved his horse to the right turning the thrusting lance away with his target. The king rose in his saddle and with a blow so forceful that it split his axe handle he despatched de Bohun. Bruce's only recorded remark was ``You've ruined my good axe.''

The feat electrified the Scots Army. The English despite repeated attacks were unable to break the ``Little peoples:'' Bruce's schiltroms. The English bowmen, who numbered over 5000, were crushed by the combined Sinclair/Keith assault. The horsemen remained orderly in the face of onslaught of English heavy Horse.

This iron resolve held for almost two days and drove the English from the field! The weak ineffectual King of the English Edward in his finest moment fought to the end.

Last changed: 00/05/28 15:53:50 [Clan Sinclair]