Friday, June 24, 2005

The Battle of Bannockburn

It was 691 years ago from today that nearly 5,000 Scots from all walks of life and all social classes were camped out on a hill near a river in central Scotland. Advancing on their position was the English military numbering over 20,000. Included in their force were longbow archers and armored cavalry knights. Most of the Scots were fortunate to have a garden tool for a weapon. What should have been a massacre and simple victory for the English on the field of Bannockburn became the decisive moment in Scotland's battle for independence in the 14th century.

The Battle of Bannockburn and the triumph of the Scots over a force that outnumbered them four to one reminds me of the significance of unity. Scotland had allowed the English to subdue them because they were at odds with one another. They were a house divided and they could not stand. William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce united the Scots, which enabled them to win a battle that by all rights they should have lost.

Six years after the victory at Bannockburn, the Scots declared their independence in a letter to the Pope known as the Declaration of Arbroath. They affirmed their unity and the purpose of their fight in the most famous line from the declaration: It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

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