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The Wars of Scottish Independence were a series of campaigns launched after the English invasion of Scotland in 1296.
King Alexander III of Scotland died in 1286, leaving his three-year old daughter Margaret (the Maid of Norway) as his heir. When she died in Orkney in 1290, various claimants arose for the Scottish crown. The nobles of Scotland chose Edward I of England to arbitrate among the claimants, known as 'competitors'. The two main competitors were Robert Bruce and John Balliol. In 1292 Edward picked Balliol, apparently believing that he would swear allegiance and Edward could gain Scotland as part of England. When Edward ordered Balliol to join the English campaign in France in 1295 he refused. Threated by Edward, Balliol signed a treaty with France (known as the 'Auld Alliance', this is the oldest known military alliance in Europe and perhaps the world).
This brought about a swift invasion by England whose army defeated the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar (1296). Balliol was deposed and Scotland was occupied by England.
After this defeat parts of Scotland rose up in revolt under William Wallace. Despite some notable successes, such as the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, Wallace, fighting in the name of the King, was betrayed and executed by the English.
The revolt calmed for a period, until Robert the Bruce, the grandson of the competitor of 1292, was crowned King of Scots in 1306. This time, the Scots were more successful and Robert the Bruce comprehensively defeated Edward II of England at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
In 1327, Edward II of England was deposed and killed. The invasion of the North of England by Robert the Bruce forced Edward III of England to sign the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton on May 1 in 1328, which recognised the independence of Scotland with Bruce as king.
Major events of the Scottish Wars of Independence:
- Battle of Dunbar (1296)
- Battle of Stirling Bridge, 1297
- Battle of Falkirk (1298)
- Fall of Stirling Castle, 1304
- Battle of Methven, 1306
- Battle of Bannockburn, 1314
- Capture of Berwick, 1318
- Declaration of Arbroath, 1320
- Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, 1328