Andrew Murray, as army leader in the name of King John—that is, the captive Baliol. By June 1298 Robert Bruce is active in the service of Edward, in Galloway. Edward was moving on Scotland, and on the 22nd of July he found Wallace in force, and in a strong position, guarded by a morass, at Falkirk. The Scottish horsemen fled from the English cavalry, but the archers of Ettrick fought and died round Sir John Stewart of Bonhill, brother of the Steward. The schiltrons, or squares of Scottish spearmen, were unbroken by Edward's cavalry, till their ranks were thinned by the English bowmen and could no longer keep out the charging horse. Wallace had made the error of risking a general engagement in place of retiring into the hills; to do this had, it is said, been his purpose, but Edward surprised him, and Wallace disappears from the leadership, while the wavering Robert Bruce appears in command, with the new bishop of St Andrews, Lamberton; Lord Soulis; and the younger Comyn, “the Red Comyn” of Badenoch. For want of supplies, Edward returned to England through Annandale, burning Bruce's castle of Lochmaben. Stirling still held out for England. There is certain evidence of fierce dissensions in some way connected with Wallace, among the Scottish leaders (August 1299). Wallace was going to France; the Scottish leaders were reconciled to each other, and took the castle of Stirling, which they entrusted to Sir William Oliphant. The Scottish cause seemed stronger than ever, under Bruce, the Steward, the Red Comyn and Lamberton, but in June 1300 Edward mustered a splendid array, and took Carlaverock castle, but, on the arrival of the archbishop of Canterbury with a letter from the pope approving of the Scottish cause, he granted a truce till Whitsuntide 1301. The barons of England angrily refused to submit to the papal interference, but nothing decisive was attempted by Edward, though Bruce had again entered his service. By 1303 France (which doubtless had moved the pope to his action) deserted the Scots in the Treaty of Amiens, and Edward, with little opposition, overran Scotland in 1303.
On the 9th of February 1304 Comyn with his companions submitted; they hunted Wallace, who had returned from the continent, and on the 24th of July the brave Oliphant surrendered Stirling on terms of a degrading nature. Among his officers we see the names of Napier, Ramsay, Haliburton and Polwarth.
The noblest names of Scotland now took part in the pursuit of Wallace, who, as great in diplomacy as in war, had visited Rome (he had a safe-conduct of Philip of France to that end), and had at least secured a respite for his country. It seems probable that Wallace remained consistently loyal to Baliol, and hostile to the party of the wavering Bruce. He was taken near Glasgow, in his own country, and handed over to England by Sir John Menteith, sheriff of Dumbartonshire. Menteith certainly received the blood-money, £100 yearly in land, and Wallace, like Montrose, was hanged, disembowelled and quartered (at London, August 1305). Tradition attributes to Wallace strength equal to his courage. His diplomacy in France proves him to have been a man of education, and his honour is unimpeached; he never wavered, he never was liegeman of Edward, while bishops, nobles, and, above all, Bruce, perjured themselves and turned their coats again and again. The martyr of an impossible loyalty, Wallace shares the, illustrious immortality of the great Montrose, and is by far the most popular hero of his country's history. His victory at Stirling lit a fire which was never quenched, and began the long and cruel wars of independence on which Scotland now entered.
For an hour there seemed as if there might be no raising of the fallen standard of St Andrew. Edward had not yet alienated Bruce. the country by cruelty, save in the case of Wallace and the massacre of Berwick. He aimed at a union of the two countries, and Scottish representatives were chosen to sit in the English parliament. The laws of David I. were to be revised. Eight justices were appointed, the sheriffs were mainly Scots of the kingdom; the bishop of St Andrews was one of the Scottish representatives. The country was being reorganized, ruined churches and bridges were being rebuilt. The “commons,” the populace, were eager for peace; nobles like Bruce were Edward's men. Bruce had been actively engaged in the siege of Stirling, and had succeeded his father as earl of Annandale. Yet, during the siege of Stirling (11th of June 1304), Bruce had entered into a secret band with Lamberton, bishop of St Andrews, for mutual aid. Early in February 1306 he stabbed the Red Comyn before the high altar, in the church of the Franciscans at Dumfries: Comyn's uncle was also slain, and Bruce, from his castle of Lochmaben, summoned his party to arms; he was supported by the bishops of St Andrews and Glasgow, and by Sir James of Douglas, and was promptly crowned by the countess of Buchan, representing the clan MacDuff, at Scone.
The cause of the slaying of Comyn is unknown; the two men had long been at odds, but the evidence does not confirm the story that Comyn had betrayed Bruce to Edward. It is more probable that Comyn merely refused to be drawn by Bruce into a rising, and that the deed was unpremeditated. Be that as it may, Bruce had now no place of repentance for a sacrilegious homicide; he could not turn his tabard again; he was outlawed, forfeited and excommunicated. He had against him, not merely England, but the kith and kin of Comyn, including the potent clan of MacDowall or MacDougall in Galloway and Lorne; on his own side he had his kinship, broken men, and the clergy of Scotland. Heedless of the excommunication they backed him, and the preaching friars proclaimed his to be a holy war.
Bruce was warring in Galloway when, in May 1306, Aymer de Valence led an English force to Perth. Bruce followed, and was defeated in Methven wood; the prisoners of rank, his brother Nigel, and Atholl, with others, were hanged, and his two bishops were presently secured. “All the Commons went him fra,” says Barbour, the poet chronicler. His queen, with Lady Buchan and his sister, were imprisoned; and his castles were held against him. He took to the heather, making for the western seas, hewing his way through the MacDougals at Tyndrum and marching over the mountains to Loch Lomond, which he crossed in a canoe. Sir Nial Campbell of Lochow, founder of the house of Argyll, secured shipping for him, and he reached a castle of Macdonald of Islay (Angus Og), his ally, at Dunaverty in Kintyre. He was driven to an isle off the Irish coast; he thence joined Douglas in Arran, and by a sudden camisade he butchered the English cantoned under his own castle of Turnberry in Carrick. Two of his brothers were taken in Galloway and hanged at Carlisle, while King Edward, a dying man, lay with a great army at Carlisle, or at the neighbouring abbey of Lanercost. Aymer de Valence, Butetourte, Clifford, and Mowbray were sent to net and “drive” the inner wilds of Galloway, where Bruce lurked in the forests and caves of Loch Trool and Loch Dungeon. Now he evaded them, now he and his valiant brother Edward surprised and cut them up in detail, doing miracula, says a contemporary English chronicler. Douglas, an excellent guerilla leader, captured his own castle and butchered the English garrison. By the 15th of May 1307 a writer of a letter from Forfar says that if Edward dies his cause in Scotland is lost. Bruce slipped into Ayrshire and defeated de Valence at London Hill; so Edward, a dying man, began to move against him with his whole force. He died (7th of July 1307) at Burgh-on-Sands, leaving his incompetent son to ruin himself by his own follies, while ferocious hangings and dragging of men to death at horses' heels roused the Scottish Commons, and the men of Ettrick and Tweeddale, renouncing their new lord, de Valence, came over to the wandering knight who stood for Scotland.
In the winter of 1307 and in 1308 Bruce ruined Buchan, a Comyn territory, and won the castles of Aberdeen and Forfar, while Edward Bruce cleared the English out of Galloway. In the summer of 1309 Bruce fell on the MacDougals, on the right side of the Awe, where it rushes from Loch Awe at the pass of Brander, and, aided by a rear attack led by Douglas, seized the bridge and massacred the enemy. He then took the old royal castle of Dunstaffnage and drove the chief, John of Lorne, into England; Menteith, the captor of Wallace, changed sides, and