Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/275

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1314 A.D.]

The Battle of Bannockburn.


If the statement, commonly accepted by historians, be authentic, that 30,000 perished on the field and in the flight, then about one half of Edward's army must have been slaughtered—an unusual proportion even in the greatest disasters. No doubt the common soldiers fared miserably in their flight. Sir Maurice de Berkeley, in command of the Welsh, led them towards the Border; but the countrymen rose and slew many of them in detail among the moors. Væ victis! the power of England was shattered for the time, and none may reckon the amount of individual disaster.

The King of England rode with Aymer de Valence and a body-guard of five hundred, to the gate of Stirling Castle, and claimed shelter. But Sir Philip de Moubray implored him to hold on his way, for the castle must needs be surrendered, and so the King would fall into the hands of the enemy. Edward set off accordingly, making a detour, probably through the woods to the west of the castle and battlefield, and galloped away for Linlithgow. Sir James Douglas getting word of this, went to King Robert and obtained leave to give chase with sixty horse, which were all that could be spared. On his way he met Sir Laurence de Abernethy with a following of fourscore, hastening to join the English army; who, on hearing news of the great defeat, promptly changed sides, and joined in the pursuit.

King Edward's escort halted at Winchburgh to bait, but it was too strong for Douglas to offer attack. He had to be content with hanging closely on the flanks of the body-guard as far as Dunbar,