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Recommended books on the Wars of Scottish Independence

A list of highly-rated books on the First and Second Scottish Wars of Independence

With numerous books covering the Wars of Scottish Independence (1296-1357) here is a list of the most essential reading for those interested in the period.

Bannockburn: The Scottish War and the British Isles, 1307-1323 by Michael Brown

The battle of Bannockburn, fought on the fields south of Stirling at midsummer 1314, is the best-known event in the history of Medieval Scotland. It was a unique event. The clash of two armies, each led by a king, followed a clear challenge to a battle to determine the status of Scotland. As a key point in the Anglo-Scottish wars of the fourteenth century, the battle has been extensively discussed, but Bannockburn was also a pivotal event in the history of the British Isles. This book analyses the road to Bannockburn, the campaign of 1314 and the aftermath of the fight. It demonstrates that in both its context and legacy the battle had a central significance in the shaping of nations and identities in the late Medieval British Isles.

The Second Scottish Wars of Independence by Chris Brown

The least well-known of Britain’s medieval wars, the Second Scottish War of Independence lasted for more than thirty years. The Scots were utterly defeated in three major battles. The nobility was destroyed at Dupplin Muir, the rank and file died in droves at Halidon Hill and at Neville’s Cross, the Scottish King was captured. So how did England lose the war? The wars of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce cast a long shadow in Scottish history. The collapse and recovery of the Bruce cause in the reign of his son, David II, has not attracted much attention among historians of medieval warfare. Drawn from English and Scottish state papers and chronicle accounts, this new book is an analysis of the armies and campaigns that would develop the tactics that gave English forces the dramatic triumphs of the Hundred Years War.

Scotland’s Second War of Independence, 1332-1357 by Iain A. MacInnes

The Second Scottish War of Independence began in 1332, only four years after the previous conflict had ended. Fought once more for the continued freedom of Scotland from English conquest, the war also witnessed a revival of Scottish civil conflict as the Bruce-Balliol fight for the Scottish crown recommenced once more. Breaking out sporadically until peace was agreed in 1357, the Second Scottish War is a conflict that resides still in the shadow of that which preceded it: compared to the wars of William Wallace and Robert Bruce, Edward I and Edward II, this second phase of Anglo-Scottish warfare is neither well-known nor well-understood. This book sets out to examine in detail the military campaigns of this period, to uncover the histories of those who fought in the war, and to analyse the behaviour of combatants from both sides during ongoing periods of both civil war and Anglo-Scottish conflict. It analyses contemporary records and literary evidence in order to reconstruct the history of this conflict and reconsiders current debates regarding: the capabilities of the Scottish military; the nature of contemporary combat; the ambitions and abilities of fourteenth-century military leaders; and the place of chivalry on the medieval battlefield.

The Scottish Civil War: The Bruces and Balliols and the War for Control of Scotland 1286-1356 by Michael Penman

A controversial re-evaluation of the Scottish Wars of Independence which argues that the sixty years of civil war between two generations of rival claimants for the Scottish throne – each with their armed camps of ambitious nobles – had a far more devastating and revolutionary impact upon the kingdom of Scotland than the scrappy wars against England’s Edwards I, II and III.

Under the Hammer: Edward I and Scotland by Fiona Watson

Few aspects of Scottish history inspire as fervent an interest as the wars with England. The exploits of not one, but two, national heroes – William Wallace and Robert Bruce – have excited the attention of a host of novelists, filmmakers, artists and songwriters, as well as historians. But few have ventured to examine it in depth from an English perspective. Yet there could have been no Wallace or Bruce, no Stirling Bridge or Bannockburn, without the English kings’ efforts to subjugate their northern neighbour. This book explores how Edward I attempted to bring the Scottish kingdom under his control during the last years of the thirteenth and early years of the fourteenth centuries. Despite England’s overwhelming military might, victory was by no means inevitable, and Scotland’s leaders proved able to create a successful front to repel a far more powerful enemy. Packed with detail, description and analysis, Under the Hammer paints a vivid picture of a key period in the history of both nations.

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