The Women of the Wars of Independence in Literature and History
Goldstein, R. James
Studies in Scottish Literature: Vol. 26: Iss. 1, Article 22 (1991)
Sometime in the second half of the thirteenth century, a woman named Christiana inherited from her father Robert the Scot a certain land or tenement lying within the territory of Esperstoun.” The fann was two miles from Temple (then known as Blantrodok), which is about ten miles southeast of Edinburgh in Midlothian. Temple was at that time the headquarters of the Order of the Knights of the Temple in Scotland. As a freeholder of modest means, Christiana would have made an attractive marriage partner within a certain level of rural society. We know that she had a husband, William son of Galfrid of Haukirstoun, and that they had three sons…
I have chosen to retell this moving story of an obscure Scottish peasant woman because it enables me to raise questions that historians have not frequently cared to raise. Although historians have occasionally discussed the participation of women in the Wars of Independence, no one has systemati- cally examined the variety of ways in which women experienced a conflict that was in large part imposed upon them by their husbands and fathers, brothers and sons, lords, bishops and priests. Yet the role of women in the Wars of Independence should be of interest not only to social historians but also to students of Scottish literature and to feminist critics, for the memory of the varieties of women’s wartime experience was perpetuated in such works as Barbour’s Bruce and Blind Hary’s Wallace.