Front Matter Albion and Brutus The Coming of the Romans The Romans Come Again Caligula Conquers Britain The Story of Boadicea The Last of the Romans The Story of St. Alban Vortigern and King Constans Hengist and Horsa Hengist's Treachery The Giant's Dance The Coming of Arthur Founding of the Round Table Gregory and the Children King Alfred Learns to Read Alfred and the Cowherd More About Alfred the Great Ethelred the Unready Edmund Ironside Canute and the Waves Edward the Confessor Harold Godwin The Battle of Stamford Bridge The Battle of Hastings Hereward the Wake Death of the King The Story of William the Red The Story of the "White Ship" The Story of King Stephen Henry II—Gilbert and Rohesia Thomas a Becket The Conquest of Ireland Richard Coeur de Lion How Blondel Found the King The Story of Prince Arthur The Great Charter Henry III and Hubert de Burgh Simon de Montfort The Poisoned Dagger The War of Chalons The Lawgiver The Hammer of the Scots King Robert the Bruce The Battle of Bannockburn The Battle of Sluys The Battle of Crecy The Siege of Calais The Battle of Poitiers Wat Tyler's Rebellion How Richard Lost His Throne The Battle of Shrewsbury Prince Hal Sent to Prison The Battle of Agincourt The Maid of Orleans Red Rose and White Margaret and the Robbers The Story of the Kingmaker A King Who Wasn't Crowned Two Princes in the Tower The Make-Believe Prince Another Make-Believe Prince The Field of the Cloth of Gold Defender of the Faith The Six Wives of Henry VIII The Story of a Boy King The Story of Lady Jane Grey Elizabeth a Prisoner A Candle Lit in England Elizabeth Becomes Queen A Most Unhappy Queen Saved from the Spaniards Sir Walter Raleigh The Queen's Favourite The Story of Guy Fawkes The Story of the Mayflower A Blow for Freedom King and Parliament Quarrel The King Brought to Death The Adventures of a Prince The Lord Protector How Death Plagued London How London was Burned The Fiery Cross The Story of King Monmouth The Story of the Seven Bishops William the Deliverer William III and Mary II A Sad Day in a Highland Glen How the Union Jack was Made Earl of Mar's Hunting Party Bonnie Prince Charlie Flora MacDonald The Black Hole of Calcutta How Canada Was Won How America Was Lost A Story of a Spinning Wheel Every Man Will Do His Duty The Battle of Waterloo The First Gentleman in Europe Two Peaceful Victories The Girl Queen When Bread was Dear Victorian Age: Peace Victorian Age: War The Land of Snow The Siege of Delhi The Pipes at Lucknow Under the Southern Cross From Cannibal to Christian Boer and Briton List of Kings

Our Island Story - H. E. Marshall


When Edward, the first Prince of Wales, was young, he had a French friend called Piers Gaveston. Piers was tall and handsome and gay, but he was wicked. He led the prince into all kinds of mischief until at last King Edward I. put his son in prison for a time, and banished Piers from the kingdom.

When Edward lay dying he begged his son never to bring Piers back again. The Prince of Wales promised, but, as soon as his father was dead, he broke his word and sent for Piers. Edward II. made Piers Earl of Cornwall, and married him to a great lady. Then leaving him to rule England the King crossed to France to marry the beautiful Princess Isabella.

The English barons were very angry at again having a foreigner to rule. They hated Piers, and Piers laughed at and insulted them. He called them all sorts of names, such as 'the Jew,' 'the actor,' 'the black dog,' and 'the hog.'

Piers made Edward II. do many wicked things. The King filled the court with bad and foolish people like himself, sending away the wise men who had helped Edward I. to rule.

At last the hatred of the barons grew so fierce that they forced Edward to send Piers away, and when after a time Edward brought him back, they seized him and put him to death.

Edward was very angry with the barons for killing Piers, and he was sad too, for he had really loved his friend. He was too weak a king, however, to punish the barons, so he was obliged to pretend that he forgave them. But he did not become a better king, even after his favourite was dead.

Meanwhile the Scots were fighting against the English, and driving them out of Scotland. A king, called Robert the Bruce, was now upon the throne, and under him the Scots fought so bravely that soon the English had lost all the Scottish towns which they had, except Stirling. The castle of Stirling was strong, and the English soldiers within it brave. But the Scots were brave too, and determined, for they were fighting for their freedom and their country. At last the governor, feeling that he could hold out no longer, promised to yield the castle on 24th June 1314 A.D., if before then no help came to him.

When Edward II. heard that Stirling was in danger, he at last roused himself. He gathered a great army of English, Irish, Welsh, and French, barons and men of high degree, with their servants and followers—a hundred thousand men in all. Such a splendid army as now marched over the border had never before been seen in Scotland.

As they passed through the country to Stirling, fear filled the hearts of the women and children. They thought of their husbands, and fathers and brothers who were gathered at Stirling to meet this great army, and wept for them as lost.

The whole of Robert the Bruce's army numbered less than forty thousand men, and they were neither so well drilled nor so well armed as the English. But King Robert was a great soldier and a wise general. He knew that he could only hope to defeat the English by using his brain as well as his sword and battle-axe. Therefore he chose the position of his army with great care. In front there lay marshes, through which the English would have to ride in order to reach the Scots, who were drawn up upon the dry plain beyond. Where the ground was firm, Bruce made his men dig pits about three feet deep. These pits were filled with twigs and branches of gorse, and the turf was then laid over them again, so that from a distance it seemed like a firm and level plain.

On one side of King Robert's position rose the steep castle hill, and on the other flowed the little stream called the Bannock. Only from the front could the English attack, and the front was guarded by pits and marshes.

Not till the 23rd of June, the very day before the governor had promised to give up the castle, did King Edward appear and camp opposite the Scottish army.

When King Robert heard that the English were near he drew up his army in battle array ready to fight, although he did not expect to do so that day.

Randolph, Earl of Moray, the nephew of King Robert, was given charge of a small body of horsemen, and told that he must stop any of the English who might try to get into Stirling. For it might have been very bad for the Scots had the English been able to take a strong position there.

The Scottish leaders stood watching the advance of the English, when King Robert's eye caught the gleam of armour away to the east. Turning to his young nephew he said, 'Ah, Randolph, a rose has fallen from your crown.' By this he meant that Randolph had missed a chance of making himself famous. For a party of English horsemen were quietly stealing towards Stirling, and Randolph, who had been told to prevent this, had not noticed.

Too ashamed to reply Randolph called to his men and dashed upon the English. They turned and charged Randolph so fiercely that Douglas, another of the Scottish leaders, begged to be allowed to go to his help.

'No,' replied King Robert, 'let Randolph win back the honour which he has lost, or die. I cannot risk the whole battle because of a careless boy. Leave him.'

So Douglas waited and watched. It seemed to him as if the little company of Scotsmen were being swallowed up by the English horsemen.

Then Douglas could bear it no longer. 'My Lord King, I pray you, let me go,' he said. 'Randolph and his men are sore pressed. I cannot stand idly by and see him die.' And scarcely waiting for permission Douglas rode off.

But, as he came near to Randolph, he saw that the English were giving way. 'Halt,' he called to his men. 'Randolph has no need of our help. We will not take the honour from him.' And without striking a blow, he and his men turned and rode back to the King.

Soon the English horsemen were seen flying from the field, and Randolph, joyful and victorious, returned to his place. He had recovered the rose which had fallen from his crown.

Meanwhile the rest of the English army was steadily advancing. King Robert the Bruce, mounted upon a little brown pony and wearing a gold crown upon his helmet, rode up and down in front of his army, watching everything, commanding and encouraging. His armour was light, and for a weapon he carried only a battle-axe.

Seeing King Robert so lightly armed, an English knight, called Sir Henry de Bohun, thought he would earn a great name for himself and win the battle at one blow. So setting spurs to his horse he rushed upon the King at full speed.

As the full-armed knight came thundering along on his great war-horse, King Robert, sitting firmly on his little pony, waited calmly. When Bohun reached him, when the sharp point of the spear almost touched his armour, Bruce suddenly made his pony spring to one side. The knight flashed past him. Quick as lightning Bruce turned, rose in his stirrups, and lifting his battle-axe high in the air, brought it crashing down upon the helmet of Bohun. Head and helmet were split, and without a groan Bohun fell dead to the ground, while his riderless horse galloped wildly away.

Robert the Bruce

Bruce lifted his battle-axe high in the air, then brought it crashing down upon the helmet of Bohun.

Cheer upon cheer rose from the Scottish ranks and the nobles crowded round their King, glad yet vexed with him. 'My lord, my lord, is it well thus to risk your life?' they said. 'Had you been killed, our cause were lost.'

But the King paid no heed to them. 'I have broken my good axe,' was all he said, 'I have broken my good axe.'