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The Second Scottish War of Independence, 1332-41: a national war?

The Second Scottish War of Independence, 1332-41: a national war? 

By Peter William Daniels

MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow, 2013

David Bruce, king of Scotland, acknowledges Edward III as his feudal lord
David Bruce, king of Scotland, acknowledges Edward III as his feudal lord

Abstract: The purpose of the thesis is to examine whether the second war of independence from 1332-41 was a ‘national’ war or simply a series of regional conflicts. Three separate but overlapping influences are examined: national identity, the extent to which the different regions of Scotland were drawn in, and the landed interests involved in each region. These three issues are considered for the first time using a prosophographical approach, examining the background and actions of the key players in the conflict, the higher nobility of Scotland.

The thesis examines, first of all, the role of the higher nobility of Scotland in the 1330s. It then looks at each of the recognisable regions of the country in turn, considering who the key members of the higher nobility were in each region, what their interests were and to what extent they were involved in the region. Finally it looks at the motivations of these individuals, primarily from the perspective of national identity, or perhaps more accurately, regnal solidarity. Its conclusion is that the second war of independence was indeed a national war, centred as it was on the interests of the kingdom as a national entity but that other factors – the legitimacy of the Bruce and Balliol claims, the influence of family allegiances through marriage, the personal safety of the members of the higher nobility, the threat of forfeiture and their personal ambitions – were also at work.

The 1330s was a turbulent time for Scotland. A prolonged period of both civil war and war with England from 1296 to 1327 had ended with the apparent defeat of the enemies of Robert I and the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton of 1328, under which the two realms ostensibly made peace. A year later Robert I had died and by 1332 Scotland was once more at war. This renewed conflict has been generally labelled the ‘Second Scottish War of Independence’.

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While there is no doubt that the second war began in 1332 there is more uncertainty as to when it ended. Unlike the first war, there was no peace treaty between Scotland and England bringing the armed conflict to an end. Scotland’s higher nobility and military leaders largely succeeded in ridding the country of both the supporters of Edward Balliol and English administration by the time David II returned from exile to Scotland in 1341. However, warfare continued in the form of minor skirmishes throughout the 1340s, culminating in the major Scottish reverse at Neville’s Cross in 1346. Neville’s Cross was followed by a small-scale invasion of Scotland by Balliol but by 1354, if not before, the country, with the exceptions of Roxburgh and Berwick, had once again been cleared of Balliol forces and English control. With the surrender by Balliol of his claim to the kingdom in 1356 and the ransom of David II the following year after eleven years in English custody, the independence of Scotland was finally assured.

Click here to read this thesis from the University of Glasgow



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