Post-classical history



BOTH sides seem to have done very little between Surrey’s aborted winter campaign and the arrival of Edward and his army in June 1298. No doubt the relieved English garrisons of the south-east made good use of this period to restock their supplies and check their defences. Fortunately, they remained safe from attack even after the army was disbanded in March because the earls of Surrey, Norfolk, Gloucester, Hereford and Angus stayed behind at Berwick with their companies. On 8 April Edward, who returned from Flanders on 14 March 1298, summoned them to a royal council to be held in York on 24 May. However, they were to come from Berwick as secretly as possible, leaving behind enough men to defend the town.1 The English were now taking the threat from the Scots very seriously.

The writs of summons for the summer campaign also went out on 8 April 1298. A total of twelve thousand six hundred Welsh footsoldiers, along with one thousand from Lancashire, were ordered to arrive at Carlisle by 17 June, later postponed to 25 June.2According to the exchequer accounts recording the payment of these troops, the total numbers of Welsh who actually mustered reached an astonishing twelve thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine. In addition, four thousand and forty-seven footsoldiers came from Ireland, Shropshire and Staffordshire, serving together under Sir John Segrave, two thousand and fifty-seven were gathered from various English counties, one thousand and twenty-seven were withdrawn from the Berwick garrison and twenty-nine crossbowmen arrived from all over the country. This provided a grand total of twenty-one thousand five hundred and thirty-nine footsoldiers, sixty per cent of whom, it should be noted, were Welsh. The army continued to increase in numbers right up until two days before the battle, when twenty-five thousand seven hundred and eighty-one footsoldiers were paid their wages; since the additions came mostly from England, this lowered the overall Welsh total but the latter is still an impressive contribution.3

Two hundred and ninety-three personal summonses were sent out to various nobles, though in many cases there is no evidence, either from safe-conducts or horse-evaluation rolls, for their presence on the campaign. From these last two sources, as well as the Falkirk Roll of Arms, which lists the knights and bannerets in the four English battalions at the battle, about fifteen hundred men-at-arms seem to have actually served. Edward also ordered twenty or thirty carpenters and around two hundred of the best diggers to come to him at Alnwick, though it is not clear to what use they were to be put.4

Almost all of those with Edward in Flanders, including Sir Aymer de Valence with the largest retinue, Guy of Warwick, about to succeed to the earldom on the death of his father, the Scot, Sir Alexander Balliol of Cavers, and the bishop of Durham, continued in the king’s service over the summer. Even more impressive, however, was the service performed by the North Welsh over 1297–8. Gruffydd ap Rhys, their captain, served under Surrey from 8 December 1297 until 29 January 1298. He then seems to have taken a Welsh contingent briefly to Flanders since a safe-conduct was issued to him and his men on their return from the continent on 15 March. Ap Rhys did not himself serve on the Falkirk campaign, though five constables from North Wales who had been with Surrey in December 1297 returned to Scotland in July 1298. The other Welsh contingents do not seem to have served quite so devotedly, though a further thirteen Welsh constables were present on both the winter and the summer campaigns.5

If provisioning had been important – and difficult – for the winter campaign, it was absolutely crucial to the maintenance of the huge army that Edward intended taking with him in 1298. John Sheffield, who had been in charge of collecting victuals in Yorkshire for Surrey’s campaign, continued to be responsible for purveyance for the rest of the regnal year. Given the resentment already caused by the cost of Edward’s war efforts, the king was very keen to ensure that all taxation came in quickly and efficiently so that payment for provisions could be made as swiftly as possible.6 Those who were being asked for contributions required constant reassurance, however. The sheriff of Gloucester, for example, had to inform the king that the men of his county were still worried that they would not be paid for what was taken from them; Edward soothingly replied that purveyance would be made ‘in the best way and to the least grievance’ of those from whom it was exacted. However, payment was not to be made until the goods had actually been received by the king, implying a delay of some weeks at least.7

The counties of Lancashire, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucester, Somerset and Dorset, as well as Ireland, were also ordered to purvey victuals and send them to Carlisle, where the Welsh footsoldiers were assembling. Unfortunately there is no evidence for the arrival of these provisions, except for sixty barrels of wine which came from Bristol in July. Though Edward appears to have been trying to spread the burden of payment for the Scottish wars, the practical difficulties encountered in transporting goods from southern England generally meant that very little was sent from these areas. Equally, it was in the interests of the southern counties to make the government think that it was not worth asking for contributions.

Scotland was easily accessible from the ports on the east coast of Ireland and thus large amounts of purveyance were demanded from the lordship in every year of Edward’s Scottish wars. On 15 April 1298 the request for provisions did not even specify the exact amounts, as was the case for the English counties; basically, as much as possible was to be sent to Carlisle. The Irish treasurer paid out more than £4000 for the goods thus purveyed, an enormous sum considering that the total receipts at the Irish exchequer for this year amounted to only £5671.8

Purveyance was not confined to foodstuffs, of course. On 12 June 1298, a few weeks before the army was due to muster, the sheriff of Northumberland was ordered to buy as many horses and carts as possible to be sent to Newcastle by 17 June. Iron was also to be acquired for shoes and nails for the king’s horses.9 The army could certainly not get very far without such attention to detail.

The logistics of this whole operation, which involved the proclamation throughout each county of the demand for purveyance, the setting-up of collection points and then the transference of all goods to a port ready for transportation north, rarely went smoothly and certainly not smoothly enough for Edward himself. On this campaign, the sheriff of Lincoln, Peter Draycote, and the clerk assigned to help him collect victuals, Peter Mollington, attracted the king’s particular wrath. Edward may have had a point, however, since the pair seem to have arbitrarily detained three ships from Sandwich, en route to Berwick laden with corn, despite the production of royal protections. A week later, on 7 July, the king was complaining more generally about the negligence of officials in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire in getting victuals to Berwick and demanding punishment as a warning to others of the harm they could cause to the campaign. Edward then wrote directly to Peter Mollington, complaining of the delay and ordering him to send the grain northwards immediately, on pain of the utmost penalties.10

On 21 July 1298 a ship containing one hundred and six quarters of wheat and eighty-nine quarters of malt at last arrived in Berwick from Lincolnshire, albeit too late to provision the army prior to the battle of Falkirk. The next recorded arrivals were not until September, however, when two ships reached Berwick on the 2nd and the 11th respectively.11 To conclude that this was unsatisfactory is something of an understatement.

In addition to the goods sent up from England through purveyance, English merchants also followed the army, bringing their goods with them to sell in this somewhat captive market. According to Guisborough, as the army prepared to march to meet the Scots immediately prior to the battle, the king ‘. . . with his own mouth spoke to those who sold merchandise, so that they should carefully bring their bundles and follow him without fear’. The surnames of those mentioned in the records suggest that they were English, rather than local, merchants.12 The profits from such enterprises were presumably high but the dangers, as the army advanced into what was effectively enemy territory, were correspondingly daunting.

Details of provisioning are nevertheless of very little use unless we have some idea of exactly how much was needed to keep Edward’s army from starvation. Given that the lowest wage paid to those in the king’s service was 2d. per day, let us presume that half of that sum was spent on bread, which constituted a large part of the staple diet of most of the medieval population. If we also presume that the wheat, once it had arrived in Scotland, was sold to the English soldiers at the 15s. per quarter that Amersham paid for it,13then it is possible to calculate approximately how much was needed to feed the army per day. Since there are one hundred and eighty pennies in fifteen shillings, one hundred and eighty footsoldiers would therefore consume one quarter of wheat. One hundred and twelve quarters of wheat per day were therefore required, approximately, to feed twenty thousand footsoldiers.

This figure is given some degree of corroboration from other evidence. It is recorded elsewhere that three bushels (eight bushels = one quarter) of wheat were intended to feed seventy-six men for one day14 and, by this calculation, it would thus have required approximately one hundred quarters per day to feed twenty thousand men. These are only rough estimates – and admittedly the footsoldiers would have supplemented their diet with other victuals, such as beans and peas – but they serve to place the amounts of foodstuffs transported to Scotland in some sort of context. It should be remembered that the shipload from Lincolnshire mentioned above contained only one hundred and six quarters of wheat, sufficient to feed the army for a grand total of one day at most.

Having turned his full attention to Scotland, there is no doubt that Edward intended to pursue his goal of subjugation thoroughly and wholeheartedly. To this end, it was decided to transfer the exchequer and the common law courts from London to York, where they remained for the next six years.15 A royal council meeting, to which each English shire and burgh was ordered to send two representatives, was also planned for 24 May.16 The Scottish nobility were apparently summoned to this gathering, on pain of outlawry (though there is no official record of these summonses) but none are known to have appeared. This gave the king the justification he needed to pass sentences of forfeiture on them, paving the way for the granting out of Scottish lands after the campaign. The army then set off north and Edward arrived in Scotland once more on 3 July 1298.17

Victuals, or, more accurately, the lack of them, were a dominant theme in the initial stages of the Falkirk campaign, according to the chroniclers. William Rishanger writes that the king camped with his army at Kirkliston, just south of the Firth of Forth, between 15 and 20 July, in order to receive provisions from ships coming up from Berwick. At the same time, a force under the bishop of Durham was sent to recapture Dirleton and two other castles (probably Yester and Hailes) in east Lothian. Unfortunately, contrary winds prevented the arrival of these ships and many in the army died of starvation.18

Guisborough relates a similar story, stating that the bishop of Durham was only able to win the siege of Dirleton because ‘. . . three ships came laden with victuals . . . While these things were going on, for almost a month the king’s supplies failed. Ships had not come by the ‘eastern sea’ [as the king had fore-ordained] ‘because of contrary winds, but some came with 200 barrels of wine and a few provisions’, causing the Welsh to get drunk and start fighting their English comrades-in-arms. The possibility of Welsh disloyalty did not apparently greatly bother Edward, even if they were to join the Scots. The lack of victuals, however, did cause him much concern and he was reputedly intending to return to Edinburgh to get supplies by the ‘eastern sea’ when he discovered the whereabouts of the Scots. He then called everyone to arms and they marched straight for Wallace’s army at Falkirk, stopping overnight at Linlithgow.19 Given the huge numbers of Welsh in the English army, Edward should certainly have been perturbed by the possibility of their rebellion. Indeed, this disparaging story might even be termed ungrateful, considering the service performed by the North Welsh, particularly, in English armies in these years. Nevertheless, it is hard to dismiss the story, which certainly suggests a continuing uneasiness in relations between England and the principality.

The evidence for food supplies supports the assertions of the chroniclers that the army suffered from an acute lack of provisions as it marched through Lothian. July certainly saw the greatest number of ships reaching Berwick but, of the seventeen recorded, only five arrived in time to supply the army before the battle, had the winds been favourable. These five ships brought, between them, 63 quarters of malt, 7 meat carcasses, 250 quarters of oats and 725 quarters of wheat, enough victuals, by the above calculation, to supply twenty thousand footsoldiers for only about a week.20

This situation was exacerbated by the fact that the English had no idea where the Scottish army was hiding out, nor what Wallace’s intentions might be. Indeed, on 19 July, only three days before the battle, the treasurer’s lieutenant at York wrote to the sheriffs of the northern counties ordering them to investigate, ‘as secretly and circumspectly as possible’, whether or not the Scots were planning an expedition across the border. If this looked likely, the sheriffs were to send a messenger, ‘riding day and night’, to York, so that orders could be given to resist the invaders. This would prompt a call-up of men with horses and arms, the preparation of wood and turf for making beacon fires and the imprisoning of all Scotsmen living in these counties.21 The battle of Falkirk came just in time, both for those starving in the royal army and those panicking at the thought of another of Wallace’s raids across the border.

The Scots, no doubt heartened by news of the famine sweeping through the English army, and Edward’s own incapacity after being stood on by his horse, decided to seize the opportunity to defeat Edward and, so they hoped, expel him from the country once and for all. Wallace’s decision to risk his troops in battle against a very large and experienced English army led by the king himself therefore becomes rather more understandable. The Scottish guardian had prepared his ground, positioning his spearmen in theirschiltroms – semi-circular or hedgehog-like formations – interspersed with archers, who in turn were protected, theoretically at least, by the Scottish cavalry behind. They were defending a hill, with a loch ‘of pitch’ (perhaps a description of a rather wet peat bog) separating them from the English army. The battle did not, in fact, begin well for the English, as a result of the ill-disciplined charge of two of the cavalry divisions. However, once the Scottish cavalry had fled, leading to the annihilation of the Scottish archers under Sir John Stewart, the English archers were able to employ their deadly skill against the helpless schiltroms.22 Edward and his army had re-established English military supremacy over the Scots, restoring a more usual martial order to proceedings. Scottish casualties must have been catastrophic but we have no way of ascertaining a realistic number; the Lanercost chronicler estimates between eighty and one hundred thousand dead, smugly noting that ‘. . . there were no noble men killed on the English side except the Master of the Templars and five or six esquires’.23 However, there certainly were many fatalities on the English side: the wages payments to footsoldiers for the period covering the battle decrease by over three thousand.24 We are left to draw the inevitable conclusion that these men fell at Falkirk, the silent, but significant, casualties of an English victory.

Edward was under no illusions that Scotland had been restored to his control. Though he sent his footsoldiers back over the border to wait at Carlisle, the cavalry remained with him in the north. He regarded it as a priority to re-establish control over southern Scotland and also to ensure that all his garrisons were capable of defending themselves against future attacks. His first target was that most strategic of castles, Stirling, which had been in Scottish hands since shortly after Stirling Bridge. The siege lasted about two weeks, the castle surrendering some time around 8 August, on which date it was supplied and the king left for his next appointment.25

There are various accounts as to what exactly Edward and his cavalry got up to after Falkirk. Piecing the evidence together, it appears that a separate force, led by the Earl of Lincoln, was despatched north immediately after the battle. This force succeeded in recapturing Cupar castle before the end of July and also laid waste to Perth and St. Andrews. The main force, led by the king, moved west after the fall of Stirling. Their next target was Ayr castle, which the earl of Carrick, again nailing his colours to the Scottish mast, had recently set alight and left empty; this sent Edward down through Annandale, where he stopped off at Tibbers to inspect a ‘stone’ house being constructed there by Sir Richard Siward, its lord. He was sufficiently impressed with what he saw to involve Siward in building works at Lochmaben the following year. The king may then have intended to make an expedition into the difficult country of Galloway despite the fact that the army again faced food shortages due to the non-arrival of ships to support its activities. After fifteen days of severe famine (fames valida), according to Guisborough, they turned back through Annandale and reduced Lochmaben, probably in revenge for the activities of the earl of Carrick and despite the fact that the castle actually belonged to the latter’s entirely unrebellious father.26

On 8 September Edward and his men-at-arms rejoined the rest of his army at Carlisle. According to Guisborough, the earls of Hereford and Norfolk, with their retinues, then left the army because they were upset at the granting of Arran to Sir Hugh27 Bisset of Antrim. This Irish opportunist had landed on the island with a large force, intending to support the Scots; however, on hearing of the English victory at Falkirk, he promptly offered his allegiance, and his conquest, to Edward and was duly rewarded. The earls took exception to this because the king had ‘forgotten’ his promise to take their advice when making any land grants.28

Edward was, in fact, now ready to make extensive grants from estates forfeited from the recalcitrant Scottish nobility in May. These included James the Steward’s barony of Renfrew, given to the earl of Lincoln, the Maxwell castle of Caerlaverock, given to Sir Robert Clifford, and certain lands belonging to the tiny Andrew Murray, posthumous son of the victor of Stirling Bridge, which went to Sir Robert Tony.29 However, the extent to which these grants were worth much more than the parchment they were written on remained to be seen.

Despite the defection of the senior earls and the approach of autumn, Edward still had one final piece of unfinished business to complete in Scotland for this year. The security of the south-east could not be regarded as satisfactory until Jedburgh castle, a lone Scottish outpost in that area, had been neutralised. An English force – surely a small fraction of the original army – thus recrossed the border and headed back east. The siege took place throughout the first eighteen days of October and, despite orders for coal, iron and steel to be sent from Berwick for the siege engines, a payment of 100s. to John Pencaitland, the constable, suggests that the garrison submitted after negotiation. The Scots may well have tried to save the castle, however, since a horse belonging to one of the company of Sir Simon Fraser, Edward’s warden of nearby Selkirk Forest, was killed on royal service on 3 October,30 suggesting there had been a skirmish.

Jedburgh was now given a new garrison under the command of Sir Richard Hastangs, whose brother, Sir Robert, was already in charge of nearby Roxburgh. As a final precaution, a ‘great engine’ was to be sent up from Carlisle castle.31 Edward could now go home. However, his officials in Scotland still had work to do. Throughout October and November the other south-eastern castles of Edinburgh, Berwick and Roxburgh required to be resupplied and a check made that the men inside were sufficient to protect them from attack now that there was no English army nearby to provide relief.

As Table 1 indicates, the numbers placed in the south-eastern garrisons were fairly substantial, particularly in terms of footsoldiers. This was not the full complement either because, in addition to the garrison in Berwick castle shown in the table, a significant force of sixty men-at-arms and one thousand footsoldiers was also ordered to reside in Berwick town. This impressive total was almost reached by the end of October 1298: a total of up to fifty-six men-at-arms and nine hundred and ninety-nine footsoldiers were either encamped in the town or on their way there.32

In order to put these figures in some kind of context, it is interesting to compare them with the size of the garrisons placed in Wales by Henry IV one hundred years later during the revolt of Owain Glyn D[ŵ]r. During the years of crisis for the English (1402–6), many of the huge Welsh castles built by Edward I were manned by little more than thirty men. On the other hand, in south Wales particularly, forces of up to five hundred men served under the command of important magnates such as the Duke of York. The contrast in size was a reflection of their differing functions: the smaller garrisons were merely expected to hang on until the situation got better, while the larger forces were usually put in place when things had improved, often after a royal campaign. Though they were certainly intended to defend their hinterland, these larger garrisons were also expected to play a more active role in bringing the local population to peace.33 This dual situation also operated in Scotland after 1297. In 1298, after an intensive campaign, the south-east was to be defended by one hundred and seventy-five men-at-arms and nearly thirteen hundred footsoldiers in total; this was effectively a small standing army and it speaks volumes about the extent to which the English felt vulnerable even in the heartland of their occupation.

Table 1: Edinburgh, Roxburgh, Jedburgh and Stirling garrisons, 1298–130335

In addition to the sheer numbers deployed in the south-east, a number of other precautions were taken to guard against any potential mishaps. It was made absolutely explicit that no-one in Berwick town was to venture out against the enemy unless accompanied by thirty men-at-arms and five hundred footsoldiers from the garrison. Equally, the keeper of Berwick town, Sir Philip Vernay, and his opposite number in the castle, Sir John Burdon, were ordered to alternate as leaders of such expeditions so that one was always left in charge of Berwick itself. Such prudence implies a recognition of the fact that, in contrast to 1296, and despite the fact that Wallace supposedly gave up the guardianship soon after Falkirk,34 there was no let-up in the Scottish war effort.

Table 2: Linlithgow, Selkirk and Peebles garrisons, 1301–1303

Edward also bowed to the inevitable with regard to the command structure to be established over English forces in Scotland. Surrey had finally made his point regarding his unsuitability for the job as lieutenant and no-one else seems to have been either willing or able to take it on as yet.Thus a series of lesser appointments of a predominantly military, rather than administrative, nature were made. Patrick, earl of Dunbar, captain of the Berwick town garrison since 28 May 1298, was promoted to captain of all fortifications and troops in the eastern march on 19 November 1298.36

Table 3: Carstairs, Kirkintilloch, Strathgryfe and Ayr garrisons, 1301–1303

Similar ordinances were made for the organisation of English garrisons in the south-west. Sir Robert Clifford replaced Sir Henry Percy as captain of the western march six days after Dunbar’s appointment. As such, Clifford was ordered to receive the men of Nithsdale to the king’s peace, though we have no way of knowing whether this was based on a firm expectation of Scottish submissions or merely the hope that this would happen after the recent campaign.37 Another Scot, Sir Simon Lindsay, was appointed as captain in the Esk valley on 20 November; Sir Ingram de Guines, Sir Walter Teye and other English officials holding unidentified posts in the area were ordered to be obedient to him.38 De Guines was a nephew of Alexander II’s queen, Marie de Coucy, and had married Christian Lindsay, an heiress to extensive estates particularly in Clydesdale; he was presumably being asked to put his private castles and garrisons at the new captain’s disposal. The appointment of these Scots, Dunbar and Lindsay, to positions of authority within the English military establishment is an interesting development that perhaps indicates a growing pragmatism on Edward’s part, given the general lack of enthusiasm for Scottish office among his own nobility; equally the Scots themselves probably saw the benefits of serving Edward.

Table 4: Berwick

The recent campaign through the south-west had brought the area back under English control to some extent and garrisons were established in Dumfries and Lochmaben. This last castle had not been forfeited by its owner, Bruce of Annandale, and Edward thus technically had no right to occupy it, despite the rebellious behaviour of Bruce’s son, the earl of Carrick. However, Lochmaben was of major strategic importance to the English administration. Served by the wharf at Annan, it was easily reached from Carlisle and thus was ideal, from Edward’s point of view, for controlling the south-west. During this period it can thus be regarded as a royal castle though presumably Edward was forced to explain the exigencies of war to the deprived lord of Annandale.

Dumfries, which came under Sir Robert Clifford’s jurisdiction, was given a garrison of twenty-six crossbowmen and six footsoldiers, together with a total of ten miscellaneous carpenters, engineers, smiths and masons, implying that a degree of renovation was intended. This was a comparatively small force and, though we have no figures for the Lochmaben garrison at this point, the evidence for succeeding years suggests that it, not Dumfries, was the main English base in the south-west. Lochmaben’s new keeper was Sir Robert Cantilupe, who was also made warden of Annandale. Cantilupe was the only officer explicitly empowered to hold courts and pleas, with the assistance of the bishop of Carlisle and Master Richard Abingdon, the receiver, under him. It is possible that Clifford held overall administrative responsibility for the south-west but, given his obvious interest in military matters, it is more likely that Cantilupe, with his two associates, were key figures in any ‘normal’ government in the area.

The concern taken here to re-establish the rule of law through English officials might be construed as a recognition of the necessity to provide firm government, both as a laudable end in itself, and as a means of promoting acceptance of Edward’s regime. However, it should be noted that English control in the south-west after Falkirk was only likely to be effective in the areas immediately surrounding Dumfries and Lochmaben, including Nithsdale and Annandale at best. Even that control was by no means total since Caerlaverock castle, situated between the two garrisons, was still held by the Scots and certainly proved a thorn in the side of these English garrisons until its capture in 1300. In other words, the injunction to Cantilupe to hold courts by no means implies that he actually managed to do so and there is certainly no evidence for Edwardian judicial activity in the south-west before 1303. Equally, we must entertain the possibility that the Scots themselves maintained some kind of administrative control there, though there is again no way of ascertaining this from the precious few remaining documents from the Scottish side.

Far from reverting to the dejected submissiveness of 1296 after their defeat at Falkirk, the Scots continued to harass Edwardian positions in Scotland and also to take the war south of the border, or at least threaten to do so. This last point is illustrated by the excuse made by the sheriff of Cumberland, Sir William Mulcastre, for not turning up at the exchequer in York to render his accounts on 30 October 1298. Apparently, he claimed that

. . . during the present war between the king and the Scots, who lately invaded the said parts and caused much damage and put them in much danger . . . the county could not be without its sheriff, and so he could not come to render his account.

Obviously it was in the interests of the sheriff to try to gain a rebate on the issues which he was expected to pour into the Crown’s coffers and the above could, feasibly, refer to Scottish activities earlier in the year. However, Mulcastre’s excuse was accepted and he was ordered to come when he could. This he did on 16 November ‘. . . and returned to those parts to save them from damage or danger from the Scots’.39 The threat was certainly not believed to be over.

To combat this a number of appointments were made, putting the northern counties on the same war footing as the English-held areas of southern Scotland. Three captains, Sir Walter Huntercumbe, Sir Ralph FitzWilliam and Sir Thomas Furnivall, were appointed in Northumberland, Yorkshire, and Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire respectively, with Sir William Latimer over them as captain-general. Furnivall’s appointment indicates that Scottish activities were biting deep into the English Midlands; even if the raids themselves did not extend so far, these counties were still expected to act in the defence of the north.

These precautions were taken in order to provide a mobile force over the winter months. All the above captains were ordered to assemble the men-at-arms of northern England and the western marches of Scotland at Carlisle. Those owning land worth £30 were to provide one barded, or lightly-armoured, horse (and rider), those having £60 worth of land to provide two, and so on.40

However, although these English preparations look most impressive, the reality was rather less convincing. Once again the problem was provisioning. Huntercumbe, the captain of Northumberland, wrote desperately to the king around this time, seeking an allowance for the corn and cattle which he had been forced to take for his men ‘as Northumberland was in the greatest danger from the Scots, for his own means were exhausted and if he had left his ward, the county would have been ruined’. Huntercumbe could, of course, have been exaggerating the situation and Edward certainly had no sympathy for him, denying the petition.41 However, this incident would seem to illustrate once more that those intending to take up royal office required a significant private income if they were to have any chance of fulfilling their duties.

The threat to the northern counties may, in reality, have remained just that; it is not at all clear that the Scots actually crossed the border after the battle of Falkirk. However, the English in Scotland were certainly presented with the very real danger of enemy attack. On 25 November 1298, Sir Simon Fraser, at Selkirk, was ordered by the king, who was still at Newcastle, to join an expedition currently being organised by Sir John Kingston, the sheriff of Edinburgh. Edward was very keen that this raid should be a success and did not regard Kingston’s men as sufficient for the purpose. Five days later the remaining garrisons of the south-east were also ordered to join in and it emerged that the object of the expedition – and one which the English were presumably at pains to keep secret – was, in fact, Stirling castle, now seriously under threat from the Scots. At a meeting held at Berwick, Huntercumbe, Fraser, Sir Robert Hastangs and Sir Philip Vernay agreed to pass on to Kingston any information about Scottish activities so that he could decide by 14 December whether or not they should come to Edinburgh castle. One hundred and ninety horsemen were to be gathered from the garrisons of Jedburgh, Roxburgh, Berwick town, Edinburgh, Northumberland and even Norham castle, as well as quotas from Sir Simon Fraser, Sir Alexander Balliol of Cavers and, as a special request, the earl of March.42

This was not the end of the preparations, however. On 2 December 1298 a clerk, William Rue, was sent to Berwick to oversee the despatch of provisions to Edinburgh. It was hoped that Sir Philip Vernay, the keeper of Berwick town, could acquire them from his own area and pay any ‘small expenses’ from the Berwick issues, but, in the final resort, they would be sent from England. In addition, a ship was to be kept ready at all times to carry goods up to Edinburgh until the following Easter (9 April 1299). Vernay does seem to have had some success in procuring goods himself, suggesting that around Berwick, at least, the local population was prepared, willingly or otherwise, to co-operate with the new regime. At the same time, sixty quarters of wheat, sixty quarters of barley and sixty quarters of oats were set aside to be taken on to Stirling.43 This was almost eight months’ supplies for the 63-strong garrison.

By the end of December preparations were in full swing. Sir Alexander Convers, the royal clerk responsible for provisioning the south-east as a whole, was sent instructions by the king, who was still taking a close interest in proceedings. Six hundred men-at-arms were now being sent to Edinburgh, and Convers was to accompany them with money from the wardrobe to pay their wages, ‘for it seems to us that the money can be best kept in Edinburgh castle as anywhere else in these parts’. The clerk was not allowed to return south until Stirling had been successfully relieved, ‘which expedition is to be done as hastily as you can but in such a good way and surely’.44

From the tone of these royal letters, it is easy to imagine the king at Newcastle, angry and frustrated at his inability to involve himself personally in English activities in Scotland because of the dissolution of his army, and worried that the effects of the 1298 campaign in general, and the battle of Falkirk in particular, would come to nothing. It had been an expensive year: most of the £76,549 4s. 6d. spent through the wardrobe had gone on the Scottish war.45

Despite the lack of evidence for the activities of the Scottish administration, we must nevertheless constantly remember that, in the years after Falkirk, English control did not extend much beyond the Forth in the south-east, and was limited to very particular (though increasing) areas of the south-west. In neither case was that control absolute, as illustrated by the Scottish attack on Stirling. Those areas on the border of English and Scottish control were probably not administered effectively by either side, and local communities were thus effectively left to get on with it. However, we can surely presume that the entire north-east acted as the heartland of a reasonably cohesive Anglo-Scottish administration, even if we know precious little about its day-to-day activities.

Certainly Wallace and his advisers realised the pressing need to reinstitute as full an administrative system as possible in the name of King John. The Scottish chancery was up and running again within a month of Stirling Bridge, issuing charters and restoring the diplomatic links vital to Scotland’s economic and political wellbeing.46 Balliol was indeed fortunate in having men of long administrative experience, such as the former guardian, Robert Wishart, bishop of Glasgow, active in his cause. Their activities were complementary to, and just as important as, the work of the military men, in the same way as Edward’s clerks were vital to the very survival of the English administration in Scotland. Equally importantly, the Scots, led by churchmen like Matthew Crambeth, bishop of Dunkeld, maintained a constant diplomatic pressure on both the king of France and the pope, Boniface VIII. Their first major achievement came in 1299 when their king, forcibly resident in London since 1296, was transferred into papal custody. Equally, Edward, intent on recovering control of Gascony, was more amenable to the requests of his new brother-in-law, Philip of France.47

Despite his persistently belligerent and overbearing attitude towards the Scots, Edward was no fool; he recognised that, notwithstanding the victory at Falkirk, the English position within Scotland remained most unsatisfactory. He was determined to return north as soon as possible but had to ensure that next year’s campaign would be properly resourced. His first priority was therefore to refill his coffers. On 27 December 1298 he sent an urgent message to his sheriffs requiring money from any possible source – arrears, issues – except that put by for the ‘purveyance recently made for Scotland [i.e. for the next campaign]’.48 However, Edward’s financial situation required the constant juggling of the Crown’s resources to keep ahead of his creditors: on 25 May 1299, for example, he granted the citizens of Bayonne all the customs on wool, hides and woolfells in England, Ireland and Scotland ‘after that land is in good peace’ to pay off his debts to them.49 The annual return from the customs between 1278 and 1287 has been estimated at an average of £8,800, increasing to about £13,000 for the last four years of the reign.50 Though Edward had little choice but to pay the Bayonne merchants, not least to ensure continued credit, the loss of this vital revenue even for one year must have had an important knock-on effect on his ability to prosecute the war in Scotland over the longer term.

Preparations for the 1299 campaign began almost immediately. The orders for purveyance sent to various English officials and also the sheriff of Berwick on 12 December 1298 included detailed instructions as to how grain should be stored properly so that it remained in a fit enough state not only to survive the long and difficult journey north, but also for a year or so thereafter.51 Lessons were being learned the hard way by Edward’s garrisons: they had been unable to rely on the regular replenishment of their stores over the previous eighteen months either because they were cut off from the supply line by the enemy, or because there just wasn’t enough available. Edward also seems to have given consideration to the organisation of his fleet after the non-appearance of ships bearing victuals almost brought disaster to his army before Falkirk. This led to more clear-cut definitions of what service was owed and by whom, though it did not take effect until 1300, since there turned out to be no campaign in 1299.52

Despite the considerable preparations made at the end of 1298 to preserve Stirling castle, the Scots were nevertheless able to upgrade their activities from attacks on Stirling’s supply line to a full-scale siege during the spring of 1299. Without proper siege equipment, this was more of an attempt to starve or bore the English garrison into submission, rather than a significant bombardment. Equally, the Scots were unlikely to have commanded sufficient manpower to cut the castle off completely for the necessary duration of the siege, and there is evidence for the conclusion of at least one truce made with the garrison in the early months of the siege. The usual period for unpaid military service in Scotland, as in England, was only forty days and thus large sums of money were surely necessary, as the siege dragged on, to pay those remaining with the besieging force. It is most unfortunate that no official records have survived to provide evidence for the Scottish war effort, not least to act as a comparison with English activities.

Nevertheless, we should be wary about presuming that the Scottish military effort at Stirling lacked commitment. Nor should we suppose that all members of the local community were desperately waiting to be rescued from the evil English garrison. One Eva of Stirling fell very foul of the besieging army when it was discovered that she had been supplying the English garrison with supplies purchased from the surrounding area. After a ten-week spell in prison, she was finally exiled from ‘the land of Scotland’ and had dared not return as late as 1305. In that year she was finally able to petition King Edward to be restored to the messuage53 and three acres of land she had held in the burgh, though it is not known if she was successful.

Sir Herbert Morham, an East Lothian man whose father, Sir Thomas, was in fact currently in Edward’s service in the Edinburgh garrison, seems to have had command of the Scottish army at Stirling initially.54 It is not clear whether he was acting in conjunction with the Scottish government which, since at least December 1298, had been in the hands of two guardians, Sir John Comyn of Badenoch, junior, and Robert Bruce, earl of Carrick.55 Presumably there was a degree of collaboration, or at least authorisation, but much of the impetus behind activities of this kind undoubtedly lay with individuals or groups acting on their own initiative.

However, Sir Herbert seems to have overestimated the potential for private enterprise in this war, proving unable to resist abducting Joan de Clare, widow of Duncan, earl of Fife, when she tried to leave the insecurity of Stirling castle for England, presumably during the truce. By 22 April 1299 Morham had himself been captured and imprisoned in Edinburgh castle (putting his father in an interesting position); meantime, command of the Scottish army at Stirling had devolved on someone else, most probably Morham’s kinsman, Sir Gilbert Malherbe of Slamannan and Livilands, who was named as sheriff of Stirling around this time and who received the eventual submission of the castle.56

The dependence on local interest groups to engage the enemy in their own areas may imply a lack of co-ordination in the Scottish war effort. However, since it did not require huge numbers of men to make life difficult for most of the English garrisons, such an approach may well have been the most effective; this was especially true in terms of cost, not least because the Scots could take advantage of that half of the year which was generally unpalatable, weatherwise, to English armies. Such a devolution of military authority may have been more usual in medieval warfare than the traditional concentration on large national enterprises, usually led by kings and princes with the intention of provoking battles or sieges, might lead us to believe.57

The resources available to the Scottish government were certainly risible compared to those flowing in even to Edward I’s depleted coffers.58 The outbreak of war, with the subsequent occupation of much of southern Scotland, hardly improved the situation. Nevertheless, the Scots seem to have been able to launch attacks on English garrisons even in the latter’s heartland of the south-east. On 28 January 1299, the sheriff of Northumberland was ordered to take a sum of money without delay to Berwick ‘safely and securely, taking heed of the danger’.59 At some point in the following month, the threat was considered so serious that an ordinance was made for the town’s security. All defences (Berwick was still surrounded by a timber, rather than a stone, wall60) were to be checked twice a week and any damage was to be repaired immediately. All military personnel were to be examined to ensure that they were ‘sufficient’ and the footsoldiers were to be quartered near their guard. If anything untoward was found, the king’s council at York was to be notified via the sheriff of Northumberland.61

Roxburgh castle was causing equal concern. Sir Robert Hastangs, the constable, had begun constructing walls there (presumably, like Berwick, not in stone) but he needed reinforcements to man them and also to defend the town. Provision was made for one hundred men to be sent from Berwick, but only if they were available and if an attack on Roxburgh was imminent.62 The danger to these castles, which had been the only two to survive the Scottish onslaught after Stirling Bridge, was clearly regarded as a very real one; equally, the borrowing of soldiers by one garrison from another indicates that there was insufficient manpower in the area to defend them all adequately. If this was the situation in the south-east, the isolated English garrisons of the south-west were undoubtedly even more vulnerable.

Lochmaben was also undergoing refurbishment, including the construction of a pele, or palisaded area. Although the presence of twenty-seven crossbowmen to protect the builders indicates the constant fear of Scottish attack, the most pressing problem early in 1299 was the lack of supplies. Sir Robert Clifford, captain of the south-western garrisons, wrote to Master Richard Abingdon, the receiver at Carlisle, requesting that the crossbowmen be paid fifteen days’ wages in advance, ostensibly because ‘at present no supplies can be got here’, but effectively because otherwise they would not stay.63

Dumfries proves something of a mystery in this period. Certainly a garrison was paid to stay there between 20 November 1298 and 30 June 1299.64 However, none of the purveyance which arrived at Carlisle from Ireland in May 1299 was sent to replenish their supplies and there is no direct mention of the castle at all. It is quite possible that Dumfries fell temporarily into Scottish hands – nearby Caerlaverock was already held by the enemy. This might also explain why Clifford found it impossible to find supplies: Lochmaben was surrounded by a hostile countryside and could only maintain its position via the road to Annan and the river-link with Carlisle.

The spring of 1299 witnessed yet another change of English military personnel: on 25 May the earl of March was replaced as captain of the eastern garrisons by Sir William Latimer, who brought one hundred men-at-arms to his new job.65 At the same time, Sir Robert FitzRoger seems to have volunteered to take on the keepership of the eastern march, a post that was kept separate from control of the garrisons, unlike the west. Both these men were extremely experienced, having served in similar positions in the northern counties of England; in both cases, also, a respite for distraint for their debts owed to the English exchequer was granted, perhaps indicating why they finally find it worthwhile serving in Scotland.

Clifford staggered on in his office throughout the summer, supported by Sir Simon Lindsay, captain of the Esk Valley, and, from 23 April onwards, by Sir Richard Siward, the great house builder, as warden of Nithsdale.66 Their job was becoming increasingly difficult, given not only the garrisons’ vulnerability to attack, but increasing problems with the supply line through enemy activity. By July the situation was pretty grim indeed: on the 31st of that month, Clifford again wrote to Abingdon at Carlisle requesting payment in either money or victuals for Richard le Bret, an Irish hobelar at Lochmaben employed to spy on the Scots ‘by night and day, who has been on duty for six weeks and three days, lest he takes himself off for lack of sustenance’.67 Admittedly the Irish serving in Edward’s armies (excluding nobles, of course) tended to be bottom of the list for payment but le Bret’s situation was far from untypical: only a few weeks later the entire Lochmaben garrison apparently threatened to leave if they did not receive their full wages.68 Unsurprisingly, Clifford was soon writing to the king asking to be relieved of his wardenship.

The Scots were ultimately responsible for this situation. At the beginning of July the south-eastern garrisons seem to have expected an attack. However, Latimer was soon busy organising a large expedition to Galloway, perhaps in response to the deteriorating situation in the south-west indicated in Clifford’s letters; a force of forty-three men-at-arms and three hundred and twenty-two footsoldiers had thus mustered at Carlisle by 18 July.69 Unfortunately, this is the last reference to payment for these troops and the expedition probably did not take place. The threat had not disappeared, however, and preparations were made at Lochmaben to repel an expected attack by the earl of Carrick (whose father’s castle it was) as late as 14 August.70

The fact that Latimer was in charge of this expedition is extremely revealing, since Clifford should certainly have been responsible for any English activity in Galloway. Though his letter to Abingdon of 31 July indicates that he was at Lochmaben on that date, Sir Robert was probably away for the rest of the month, perhaps having gone to petition the king personally. Unfortunately he could not be released from his duties immediately, because Edward wanted to wait until his own arrival in Scotland to make a new appointment. However, by 19 August Sir Ralph FitzWilliam, another stalwart of the defence of the north of England and a member of Latimer’s aborted expedition, had finally been given the job of lieutenant in the west.71

The military situation was perhaps also affected by the fact that on 18 July 1299 King John was released from the Tower of London, where he had been lodged since 1296, into papal custody. This was a very positive sign of favour towards the Scots. Indeed, it was construed as such a categorical change in Balliol’s fortunes that Robert Bruce of Annandale was constrained to send a letter to the pope via the bishop of Vicenza, who received the exiled king on Boniface VIII’s behalf; despite the fact that the earl of Carrick remained a guardian, the elder Bruce had certainly not given up his claim to the throne and took a pretty dim view of papal support for Balliol.72 So, of course, did Edward.

The English government continued to take the situation north of the border very seriously, calling a meeting to be held at York on 1 August 1299 between the bishop of Durham, Sir Henry Percy, and the earl of Lincoln, as Edward’s representatives, and those most immediately involved in Scottish affairs on both sides of the border. Yet again, however, events overtook these plans and the meeting was almost certainly cancelled; those on the ‘front line’ doubtless had no time for discussions in York as they were constantly required at their posts. Sir John Kingston, constable of Edinburgh castle, indicated in a letter of 9 August to the English treasurer at York, Walter Langton, that he was unable to come to him: the Scots, including John Comyn, earl of Buchan and cousin of the guardian, William Lamberton, bishop of St. Andrews, ‘and other earls and great lords’ who had been north of the Forth, had reached Glasgow on that same day [9 August], ‘and they intend to go towards the border, as is reported among them and their people who are in the Forest [Selkirk]’.

Kingston also had a warning for Langton about the keeper of Selkirk Forest, Sir Simon Fraser. This Scotsman had been captured at Dunbar but had redeemed himself in Edward’s eyes by exemplary service on the 1297 campaign in Flanders. On his return to Scotland, Fraser had been restored to his lands and appointed to the above office, traditionally held by his family.73 He was apparently now on his way to York with news of the enemy’s approach, an unnecessary dereliction of duty, according to Kingston, since the south-eastern garrisons could certainly prevent any incursions if they had sufficient warning. However, ‘it was reported that there was a treaty between [the Scots] and Sir Simon’; it was further implied that Fraser had attempted to draw men away from the Edinburgh garrison, whereupon the Scots had surprised the castle, capturing one of its knights. With classic understatement, Kingston remarked: ‘Wherefore I fear that he is not of such good faith as he ought to be’.74

Fraser certainly felt the need to procure a letter dated 31 July 1299 from an official at Berwick, vouching for his diligence and loyalty in the discharge of his duties.75 It is impossible to know exactly what game he was playing – perhaps he was a double agent, or merely uncomfortable in Edward’s administration, particularly if the English grip on the south-east was looking vulnerable. Kingston certainly noted ‘rebel’ activity as near to his castle as Penicuik, only eight miles away. The support of the local populace was vital to the English garrisons. However, this support would have been largely dependent on the latter’s effectiveness in persuading the Scots within their jurisdiction that they were both willing and able to allow them to live their lives as normally as possible.

Kingston’s letter to Langton probably provoked the latter to write to English officials along both sides of the border on 19 August. No-one really knew exactly where the Scots would attack, but it was known that they were targeting unharvested crops, prompting the Treasurer to order the immediate collection of all unreaped grain for safe keeping. The threat was apparently so dire that ‘our people cannot resist since they have nothing to eat’.76 Of course, the Scottish inhabitants of these areas were equally affected by this scorched-earth policy though it is harder to tell who they would ultimately blame – King John’s men for inflicting it or King Edward’s men for failing to prevent it.

A letter from Sir Robert Hastangs at Roxburgh on 20 August 1299 finally provided a clearer picture of the enemy’s movements. On 13 August77 Sir Ingram d’Umfraville and others harried Fraser in Selkirk Forest. They then awaited the arrival of ‘the great lords of Scotland’, namely Lamberton, the earl of Carrick, the earls of Buchan, Atholl and Menteith, Sir John Comyn, ‘the son’, and James the Steward.78 Conflicting rumours continued to circulate, however, since the Lochmaben garrison expected a raid by Carrick around this same time.

There was some cheer for the English garrisons, though. The Scottish leaders, gathered in apparent safety in Selkirk Forest, had intended to launch an attack on Roxburgh. However, on discovering the strength of the town’s defences, they decided ‘that they could make no exploit without great loss of their troops’. The safety measures instituted by the ordinance of 11 June were sufficient. The Scots then ‘kept quiet’ until the following Wednesday (19 August), when they held a meeting at Peebles, by which time Hastangs had a spy among them. His news was most uplifting because that meeting revealed clearly the deep rifts within the Scottish political community. Though the ostensible reason for the fracas that broke out was Wallace’s intended trip to the continent without the guardians’ permission, this was really an eruption of the Bruce/Comyn feud which the appointment of a representative from each family to lead the Scottish government had not diminished.

As is so often the case, it took an external threat to bring these militant factions to heel. News arrived that Sir Alexander Comyn, brother of the earl of Buchan, who, for reasons that will probably remain forever unclear, fought for King Edward, and Lachlan MacRuari were busy devastating the north of Scotland. It was quickly agreed that the bishop of St. Andrews should become chief guardian, with control of Scottish castles, while Comyn and Carrick remained uneasily in office with him. However, while the problems caused by this political divide are certainly significant, it is important not to overstate its effects. The Peebles council ultimately displayed a degree of confidence which contrasts markedly with the despondency prevalent among Edward’s officials. The Scots were bold enough to appoint Sir Ingram d’Umfraville as sheriff of Roxburgh and Sir Robert Keith as warden of Selkirk Forest, offices currently held for Edward by Sir Robert Hastangs and Sir Simon Fraser respectively. Keith and Umfraville were reportedly to have command of a force numbering one hundred men-at-arms and fifteen hundred footsoldiers – a huge force by Scottish standards – excluding the men of the Forest, to cause havoc along the border. Hastangs assured the king that this was no idle threat ‘because each great lord has left a part of his troops [gentz] in the company of the said Sir Ingram’.79 Roxburgh castle may have provided sufficient protection for the English garrison but this intelligence seriously calls into question the sheriff’s ability to function with any degree of confidence beyond its walls.

Meanwhile, Sir Simon Fraser found it politic to remain in the English camp. Sir Robert Keith was certainly no mere token keeper of Selkirk Forest, given that Fraser spent from 4 September 1299 until 12 June 1300 in a Scottish prison, though the circumstances of his capture are unknown. Of course, this could have been an attempt by the Scots to avert suspicion in order to maintain their man in Selkirk Forest; however, such a conspiracy theory is rendered less likely by the fact that Keith’s brother, Edward, claimed to be heritable sheriff of Selkirk through his wife, Isabella Sinton, challenging Sir Simon’s own position in the area.

After, the winding-up of the Peebles meeting, the Scottish nobility departed for their own estates, though Lamberton remained at his episcopal house at Stobo near Peebles, again underlining the limited nature of English control even in the south-east. The danger from the Scots was certainly far from over. On 21 August 1299, John Sampson, constable of Stirling castle, lost a horse ‘when William Wallace came to take away our supplies’. Admittedly, Sampson was not sure of the year, describing it as taking place on ‘a St. Bartholomew’s day [21 August]’. However, it is unlikely to have been 21 August 1298 since Stirling castle had been victualled only a couple of weeks earlier, and Wallace was abroad by the end of 1299.80

Meanwhile, Sir Ralph FitzWilliam was en route to relieve Sir Robert Clifford, arriving at Carlisle on 30 August with his contingent of two knights and ten esquires, a clerk and nine footsoldiers.81 However, FitzWilliam had even less stamina for the office than the previous incumbents. Despite organising another expedition into Galloway during September (which, again, probably didn’t happen), the orders for his recall had been issued by 12 November.82 Though there is no evidence that FitzWilliam followed the time-honoured tradition of begging to be relieved of his office, it is likely that he simply could not afford to fulfill his duties properly. He certainly had an impressive record of service, mostly in northern England, both before and after his brief stint as lieutenant. Unfortunately for the stability of the English position in the south-west, no replacement was appointed until 5 January 1300.

At a time when there was no governor of Scotland as a whole, the two lieutenants of the eastern and western marches, the former based at Berwick and the latter at Carlisle or Lochmaben, in conjunction with the receivers, Amersham and Abingdon, formed the basis of the English administration of Scotland. Sir Robert Clifford, despite his continuing commitment to Scottish affairs, obviously did not relish this responsibility. However, his resignation in July/August 1299, and the uncertainty which this caused at a time when the Scots were intensifying their activities, was unfortunate. This was certainly not helped by the fact that FitzWilliam lasted just over a record-breaking two months in the job. It is also significant that both expeditions planned for Galloway seem to have failed to take place, suggesting that the area was still an English no-go zone.

The Scottish garrison at Caerlaverock remained a constant threat despite the death of its constable, the Steward’s nephew, Robert Cunningham, during an attack on Lochmaben; accounts indicate that the English garrison there lost one hundred and sixty-two footsoldiers during the period from 28 September to 19 October; a further hundred then ‘disappeared’ between 20 October and 19 November. This left only forty men, excluding the men-at-arms. Certainly the Scots can’t be given all the credit – lack of resources must surely also have contributed to the decrease. However, by the time that FitzWilliam departed, Lochmaben was little more than an impotent English outpost. Its constable, Sir Robert Felton, despite his claim to have the Scots under control, and the cheering news of Cunningham’s death, was finally forced to admit the need for an English army to subdue the area, begging the king ‘to turn his face to Scotland and they will be discomfited’.83 What was also desperately needed was a man with the taste, ability and resources for both administration and warfare to be warden of the south-west. It was another year before Edward finally got one.

An English campaign was still on the cards, despite the lateness of the season. However, the garrisons couldn’t wait much longer to take further precautions. To this end, the construction of three new siege engines, perhaps intended for use against Caerlaverock, was begun at Carlisle in September.84 On 15 November Sir Richard Siward was ordered to investigate what needed to be done to further strengthen the new pele at Lochmaben after Christmas; the receiver, Master Richard Abingdon, was to go with him so that he could oversee the work once Siward had gone to join the king on campaign.85

The more high-profile activities of Edward’s military officials should not obscure the fact that the two receivers, Sir Walter Amersham, still ostensibly the chancellor of Scotland, and Abingdon, were at least as busy supporting those activities. Indeed, Amersham was so overworked that he soon required the services of an associate, Sir John Weston, as receiver. The ‘chancellor’, who received and accounted for all the money coming to Berwick from the exchequer at York, might thus be better described as treasurer of Scotland. Weston, on the other hand, was in charge of the disbursement and delivery of money and goods within Scotland, primarily in support of the eastern garrisons, together with Sir Robert Heron, the comptroller. Another royal clerk, Sir Richard Bremesgrave, had charge of the store at Berwick.86

The flow of money trundling north was alarmingly regular from the English exchequer’s point-of-view. On 2 May 1299 £400 for the Berwick garrisons (town and castle), £150 for the Roxburgh garrison and £36 13s. 4d. for the Jedburgh garrison was handed over to the sheriff of York. This money was then transported to Newcastle, where it was delivered to the various constables. It is not clear whether the latter then travelled by sea or overland, though all but the Berwick constables would have had to make part of their journey by road. A further £400 for the Berwick garrisons made the same journey two weeks later.87 The task of transporting large amounts of coin across the border was undoubtedly both dangerous and time-consuming; it is not difficult to envisage the potential for long delays between wage payments and the muttering in the ranks as a result. As ever with government records, pages of statistics should not obscure the fact that the fates of real men88 are concealed within them. The one bright spot was the comparative plenty in the Berwick store, which had been supplied by purveyance collected from English counties. Unfortunately this was something of an accident since it had been intended for Edward’s planned expedition. More worryingly, it was noted that, despite the careful instructions for its safe keeping, all the wheat was either putrefied or desiccated.89

The Carlisle store was similarly flush, again due to purveyance but this time from Ireland. As usual the total actually brought in fell short of that demanded by the king; nevertheless, it was still a substantial amount, including over 10,000 quarters of grain (wheat and oats) and 551 barrels of wine. This revictualling took place just in time, given some of the paltry amounts remaining in the store.90 Even once some of the provisions had been passed on to English officials in south-west Scotland, the store was comparatively well-supplied at the end of this year’s account. The ultimate postponement of Edward’s campaign until 1300 therefore effectively reversed the situation of 1298 when the English army and garrisons had the military capacity to maintain lines of supply, but insufficient victuals to feed such large numbers. In 1299 the garrisons were well provided for, since there was no army to feed, but without a large-scale military presence it was difficult to disperse victuals safely.

As at Berwick, there were a number of officials, in addition to Abingdon himself, employed in and around Carlisle specifically to maintain the supply line. The two other fulltimers were Richard Mistone, based at Carlisle priory to supply flour made from wheat brought from the stores in Carlisle, and Robert Fikeis who had charge of the wine. Nevertheless, despite the construction of a new store in and around the Carlisle castle bailey, the accounts suggest that, once the shipments had come in, Abingdon and his staff had to use all available space in the area, including granaries belonging to local citizens.

A great deal of part-time employment was also created when the provisions arrived from Ireland from May onwards; at least sixty-one men were paid to ensure that these supplies ended up safely stored either in and around Carlisle or at Lochmaben.91 The possibility of increased employment opportunities, even if only on a part-time basis, is an aspect of this war, as with all wars, that should not be overlooked; while the expense of maintaining the English position in Scotland generally made the conflict unpopular, there were some compensations.

This picture does somewhat contradict the desperate state-of-affairs described by Sir Robert Clifford in July; however, the arrival of ships off Carlisle was by no means the same as the arrival of victuals at Lochmaben. That required more time, luck (with the weather), and good management (in avoiding the Scots). The men-at-arms at Lochmaben, via the two constables (Sir Robert Cantilupe was replaced by Sir Robert Felton during this year), were eventually well-supplied. Payment for the healthy amounts of grain, meat, wine and fish sent to them was presumably deducted from the constables’ certa without the need for any money to change hands. The same happened with Bruce of Annandale’s92 men (Sir Humphrey Gardinis, Sir Hugh Mauleverer, Sir Hugh Heriz, Sir Thomas Torthorald and their fifteen esquires), who continued to defend Lochmaben for their master, even, if necessary, against his own son. Others, including Clifford himself, Sir Richard Siward and the energetic John Halton, bishop of Carlisle, were granted gifts of victuals, presumably as a reward for their services on the Scottish border.

On the other hand, the footsoldiers hired to defend the new pele seem to have paid cash for their food, which made it imperative not only to maintain sufficient supplies, but also a money supply to pay their wages. Time and again the social mores of the age seem to have ensured that the expendable unmounted soldier was left effectively to his own devices for his survival or at best at the end of a very long queue in which horses came higher; that such treatment might prove counterproductive in terms of overall military strategy does not seem to have been considered.

The financial situation presided over by Abingdon was also comparatively healthy in this year. In total his receipts amounted to £1287, coming from the sale of victuals, a grant from the wardrobe, and issues from Cumberland, Westmorland and Carlisle; his expenditure was only £1122, which left him in credit by (but owing to the exchequer) £165.93 However, on 23 September Abingdon was promoted to be a baron of the exchequer at York; though he continued officially as receiver, Master James Dalilegh began to take on more responsibility at Carlisle.94

Immediately after Edward’s marriage to Margaret of France in September 1299, summonses were issued for a winter campaign in Scotland, a clear sign of the king’s impatience to cross the border. The muster was again to be in the east, with the intention of relieving Stirling castle. Sixteen thousand footsoldiers were ordered to assemble at Newcastle by 24 November; those men-at-arms receiving personal summonses were to be at York by the same date.95

Rather unsurprisingly, Edward found it difficult to transmit his enthusiasm for spending the winter in Scotland to his army and the muster date was duly postponed to 13 December at Berwick. The new summonses contained the revealing addition that any reasonable form of financial bribery should be used to persuade footsoldiers to serve;96 equally only the northern counties of Northumberland, Yorkshire, Westmorland, Cumberland, Derbyshire, Durham, Shropshire and Staffordshire were considered worth asking for men. Shropshire and Staffordshire still refused to send any at all, though as the two counties furthest from the border, this is perhaps not surprising.97 High-ranking government officials, including Sir John Droxford, the keeper of the wardrobe, and the treasurer and justiciar of Ireland, met at York to co-ordinate arrangements for the provision of further supplies.98

Edward finally arrived back in Scotland on 13 December. However, despite all the hard work, a mere two thousand five hundred footsoldiers turned up and the only cavalry appears to have been a force of less than forty men serving for a grand total of nine days under Sir John de St. John. A number of esquires did come to Berwick from Yorkshire, having gathered knights and other freeholders at the king’s request for the keeping of the Scottish march. They remained there under the command of Sir William Latimer, still captain of the eastern garrisons, from 20 November to 24 December 1299.99 Any thoughts of an expedition were now completely out of the question and it was abandoned.

The failure to marshal an army, caused partly by continuing attempts by the English nobility to try to limit the king’s demands, and partly by the obvious unpopularity of a winter campaign, must have been a bitter pill for the king to swallow. Much work clearly needed to be done; nevertheless, circumstances very similar to those he had experienced in September 1298 prevented not only progress being made, but also, far more importantly, the relief of Stirling castle, which was in imminent danger of falling to the Scots. The king re-crossed the border on 1 January 1300, doubtless a most unhappy man.100

Despite the abandonment of the military expedition, a number of key royal officials, including Droxford, Sir Walter Beauchamp, steward of the household, Sir John Benstede, the wardrobe comptroller, and Sir Ralph Manton, the cofferer, remained behind at Berwick; their brief was to ‘organise fully the garrisons on the Scottish march and Edinburgh castle’ and to arrange for ships to carry victuals hastily to Edinburgh, from where they would also be distributed to the garrisons at Roxburgh and Jedburgh.101 From 8 to 20 January 1300 they travelled between the various castles, hearing the accounts of their commanders and assessing the state of the victuals in their stores. This gives us some indication, as shown in Tables 1 and 4, of the numbers maintained at Edinburgh, Jedburgh, Roxburgh and Berwick.

As with 1298, a large force, comprising sixty-five men-at-arms, one thousand four hundred and seventeen archers, twenty-one mercenaries, six serjeants-at-arms and one hundred and five crossbowmen, was maintained in Berwick town. Its role was still presumably to reinforce the other south-eastern garrisons when necessary and to fend off attack from the Scots.102 Unusually, Dirleton castle, apparently held privately by Sir Robert Maudley since its capture in 1298, was also given provisions from the royal store, probably as compensation for the three months spent by Maudley and his men in the garrison of Berwick town over the summer of 1299.103

Having finished their tour of inspection, Droxford and company returned south. Sir Alexander Convers and Sir William Rue, who were responsible for supplying the garrisons of Edinburgh, Dirleton and Stirling, went with them to York to present this year’s accounts at the exchequer. War or no war, proper procedure had to be followed. Nevertheless, this veneer of normality coming through official documentation undoubtedly obscures the continuing vulnerability of the English position outwith a very restricted area.

Convers, well aware of his responsibility to keep the Stirling garrison fed and watered, duly hired John FitzWalter, master of the Godale of Beverlay, and his crew of six, to take victuals from Newcastle to Berwick, and from there to the castle. The Scots were far from being in retreat, however: on 13 November a letter was sent by the guardians and the community of the realm to King Edward from the Torwood, between Stirling and Falkirk. In it, they offered a truce, to be concluded through the mediation of King Philip of France, an offer which the English king was not yet inclined to take up, not least because he was still planning his campaign.104

Some time in December 1299, Ralph Kirby, a clerk at Stirling castle, came to York with three valets ‘to reassure him [Edward] of the state of the garrison’. The fact that Edward was still at Berwick (though about to return south) suggests that those at Stirling were effectively cut off from the rest of English-held Scotland. The valets, but not the clerk, remained at York throughout January before returning to the castle. Kirby had meantime gone to Berwick to catch up with the victuals carried there in the Godale.Intriguingly, these supplies included large quantities of fish, luxuries such as cheeses and spices, and military hardware, but no wheat, oats and malt; this may mean that the garrison was well-stocked with these basic supplies, or that they were able to procure them from elsewhere, or even that someone somewhere was extremely incompetent.105

Kirby was back in York in January 1300, this time to inform the king of the surrender of the castle. It seems strange that it should have surrendered so soon after being resupplied, suggesting that the garrison was not, in fact, starved into submission. However, Kirby and the Godale could easily have arrived too late or been unable to get through. In any event, the constable, John Sampson, handed the castle over to Gilbert Malherbe, the Scottish sheriff of Stirling in return for safe passage for himself and his men, and had reached Berwick by 18 January. They numbered sixty-three, the majority of whom seem to have been men-at-arms.106 1299 had indeed been a most unsatisfactory year with no campaign, threats to almost all the English-held garrisons and, to crown it all, the loss of that most strategic of castles, the gateway to the north, Stirling.

Since 1297, Edward’s administration in Scotland had faced a variety of problems, revolving primarily around the logistics of conducting a successful campaign, and also, and perhaps more importantly, sustaining permanent forces in those areas brought back under English control. When Edward appointed his sheriffs and garrison commanders in 1296, he had envisaged the role of the Scottish castle as that of the backbone of his administrative system, fulfilling the needs of both the crown and the local community in such areas as justice and defence, as well as symbolising the change of authority. That system had collapsed, through a combination of English highhandedness and Scottish recalcitrance, and even the victory at Falkirk failed to restore it.

The English garrisons in south-east Scotland and parts of the south-west, with the exception of Berwick, sat gingerly on the edge of the communities which they were supposed to administer, isolated from the food supplies of their hinterland and eminently vulnerable to attack. It has been claimed that ‘Control of the Firth of Forth lay with the possessor of Edinburgh; control of the Clyde lay at Dumbarton; control of the neck of Scotland itself lay at Stirling. With control of all three and with reasonable vigilance, Edward could hold Scotland’.107 By these criteria, he clearly did not hold Scotland between 1297 and 1304.

The Scots were aware of the weaknesses of these military outposts, even in the comparatively well-held south-east; they thus sought on every possible occasion to sever the umbilical cord which tied them to England and supplies. Thus, the effects of even a hugely impressive and successive military campaign could be negated in the winter months by guerrilla activities. Nor did the Scots forget the efficacy of terror tactics and, even if they did not actually cross the border in the second half of 1298 and throughout 1299 (and this is not proven either way), it would appear that the communities of the northern counties lived in constant fear of invasion.

This was the basic situation under which both the English and the Scots operated in the following years. It was not entirely a stalemate – Edward was utterly determined to win this war and it cannot be denied that he made steady, if uninspired, progress in extending English control throughout the south-west, in the following years. It should not be forgotten either that intense diplomatic initiatives were engaged upon by both sides and that these had a profound effect on the progress of the war in the field. Nevertheless, the confidence exhibited by the Scots, in such sharp contrast to the timidity of 1296–7, should remind us that they certainly did not believe English victory was inevitable. Equally, it must be recognised that, while Edward could not conceive of any outcome other than success, he faced considerable difficulty in persuading the English nation in general, and potential royal officials in particular, of the desirability of throwing any more time, money and resources at ‘the Scottish problem’. This was not a situation likely to improve as the years went by.


1 E101/6/30, m. 1; Itin., p. 119; CCR, 1296–1302, p. 201.

2 Parl. Writs, i, pp. 312–6.

3 E101/12/17; C47/2/20; Prestwich, Edward I, p. 429.

4 Parl. Writs, i, pp. 309–312; Gough, Scotland in 1298, pp. 124–5.

5 CPR, 1292–1301, p. 335.

6 E101/6/33, m.5.

7 E101/552/2.

8 J. Lydon, ‘The Years of Crisis, 1254–1315’, in A New History of Ireland: Medieval Ireland, 1169–1534, ed. A. Cosgrave (Oxford, 1987), p. 199.

9 Gough, Scotland in 1298, p. 124.

10 Ibid., pp. 125–6; E159/71, m.46.

11 C47/2/117.

12 Guisborough, p. 326; Gough, Scotland in 1298, p. 25.

13 See above, p. 54.

14 Stevenson, Documents, ii, p. 334.

15 Gough, Scotland in 1298, pp. 102, 107.

16 Parl. Writs, i, pp. 310–1.

17 Guisborough, p. 323; Itin., p. 123.

18 Rishanger, p. 186.

19 Guisborough, p. 326.

20 E101/12/17; E101/7/9; C47/2/17; E101/597/3; Gough, Scotland in 1298, pp. 98–9.

21 Ibid., p. 129.

22 See Guisborough, pp. 325–7 and Lanercost, p. 191 for contemporary descriptions of the battle.

23 Ibid., p. 192.

24 E101/12/17; C47/2/20.

25 Stevenson, Documents, ii, pp. 301–4; Itin., p. 125.

26 Rishanger, p. 188; Guisborough, pp. 328–9; Lib. Quot., p. 101; Itin., p. 126; CDS, ii, no. 1005; CDS, iv., Appendix 1, no. 7.

27 Guisborough calls him Sir Thomas but no such person appears in the records for this period while Sir Hugh Bisset was certainly active in Edward’s service.

28 Guisborough, p. 329.

29 Prestwich, ‘Colonial Scotland: The English in Scotland under Edward I’, in R. Mason (ed.), Scotland and England, 1286–1815 (Edinburgh, 1987), p. 8; Prestwich, Edward I, P. 483; CDS, ii, no. 1009; Barrow, Bruce, p. 104.

30 Gough, Scotland in 1298, p. 173.

31 Stevenson, Documents, ii, pp. 313–4; E101/554/8/23.

32 Stevenson, Documents, ii, p. 332; E101/7/1, m.6.

33 R.R. Davies, The Revolt of Owain Glyn D[i_ŵ]r (Oxford, 1995), pp. 251–2.

34 Wyntoun, p. 348.

35 The figures for these graphs came from a variety of sources They do not include other members of the garrisons, such as masons, carpenters, bakers etc.. It has also not been considered worthwhile to present graphs of those garrisons, such as Lochmaben and Dumfires, for which information is insufficiently full. They should be used, therefore, only to give a rough comparison of the numbers in each and the variations over time.

36 CPR, 1292–1301, p. 351; Stevenson, Documents, ii, pp. 329–30.

37 CPR, 1292–1301, p. 387; Stevenson, Documents, ii, pp. 336.

38 Ibid., p. 331; CDS, ii, no. 1026.

39 E159/72, m. 12.

40 CPR, 1292–1301, p. 387.

41 CDS, iv, no. 1773, p. 361.

42 Stevenson, Documents, ii, p. 339.

43 Ibid., pp. 343–9.

44 E101/7/9.

45 E372/144.

46 Facsimiles of the National Manuscripts of Scotland, ed. W. Gibson-Clark (London, 1867–71), part 1, p. xiv; Highland Papers, ed. J.R.N. Macphail (SHS, 1914–34), ii, p. 131; Stevenson, Wallace Docs., no. xv.

47 Barrow, Bruce, p. 95; Favier, Philippe le Bel, pp. 227–31.

48 E101/362/18/64.

49 CPR, 1292–1301, p. 418.

50 F.M. Powicke, The Thirteenth Century, 1216–1307, p. 630.

51 Stevenson, Documents, ii, pp. 350–355.

52 Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas, A History of the Royal Navy from the earliest time to the wars of the French Revolution (London, 1847), i, pp. 294–5.

53 A portion of land comprising a dwelling-house and its associated buildings.

54 E101/7/24.

55 Highland Papers, ii, p. 131.

56 Barrow, Bruce, p. 105; CPR, 1292–1301, p. 466; CDS, ii, nos. 1066, 1108; CDS, ii, no. 1949. 22 April, when Patrick, earl of Dunbar, Edward I’s captain of the south-eastern garrisons, and Sir John Kingston, constable of Edinburgh castle, were ordered to investigate Sir Herbert’s activities, presumably soon after his capture, is one of the few dates we have to give some kind of timescale for the Scottish siege of Stirling and the truce, which Morham organised.

57 This is not a theme explored in, for example, Professor Contamine’s seminal work, War in the Middle Ages, compared with Professor Rhys Davies’s The Revolt of Owen Glyn Dwr, where the situation in Wales clearly provides parallels with Scotland.

58 See above, n. 37.

59 E152/72, m. 8.

60 R.A. Brown, H.M. Colvin & A.J. Taylor (eds.), The History of the King’s Works in Scotland, volume i The Middle Ages (1963), p. 563; Guisborough, p. 294.

61 E152/72, m. 21.

62 Stevenson, Documents, ii, pp. 375–6.

63 CDS, ii, no. 1057.

64 Stevenson, Documents, ii. pp. 333–5.

65 Ibid., ii. pp. 329–30; CPR, 1292–1301, p. 387.

66 Stevenson, Documents, ii, p. 331; CDS, ii. no. 1026; CPR, 1292–1301, p. 409.

67 CDS, ii, no. 1064. A hobelar was so-called because of the small sturdy pony, known as a hobby horse, on which he rode. Edward I had been impressed by their use on the rough terrain which was injurious to the finely-bred warhorses on which the English cavalry generally rode: see Prestwich, Edward I, pp. 513–4.

68 E101/7/23/19.

69 E101/7/20, m. 8; m. 3.

70 E101/7/23, m. 19.

71 E101/7/23/19; CDS, ii, no. 1088; E159/72, m. 102; CPR, 1292–1301, p. 387.

72 Barrow, Bruce, p. 95; The Gascon Calendar of 1322, ed. G.P. Cuttino, Camden Third Series, vol. 1xv, (London, 1949), no. 131.

73 Barrow, Bruce, p. 106; SP, vii, pp. 420–2.

74 Stevenson, Documents, ii, pp. 301–3.

75 Ibid., ii, p. 302, footnote 1.

76 E159/72, m. 102.

77 The document, which is faded in several parts, reads ‘on Thursday next . . . past’, which has to be ‘on Thursday next before the assumption of our Lady past’, that is, 13 August, otherwise the events which Hastangs goes on to describe would have taken place after his letter was written.

78 Despite fading in the manuscript the remaining letters ‘le’ make it clear that Atholl was the name obscured: see Barrow, Bruce, 106, n.99. Comyn is described as ‘the son,’ though there is no reference to his father after 1298, implying he was dead.

79 Facsimile of the National Manuscripts of Scotland, ii, no. viii.

80 CDS, ii, no. 1949.

81 E101/7/20, m. 3.

82 CPR, 1292–1301, p. 484.

83 E101/7/20, mm. 3–4; CDS, ii, no. 1101.

84 E101/7/20, m. 1.

85 CDS ii, no. 1005; CPR, 1293–1301, p. 455; CCR, 1296–1302, p. 288.

86 See, for example, Stevenson, Documents, ii, pp. 375–6.

87 Ibid., ii, pp. 365–6.

88 References to women are, unsurprisingly, rather scarce.

89 Lib. Quot., pp. 117–119.

90 CPR, 1292–1301, p. 389; E101/7/20, m. 4.

91 E101/7/20, mm. 3–4; E101/7/20, m. 8.

92 This is Robert Bruce (VI), son of the Competitor and father of the earl of Carrick.

93 E159/72, mm. 16, 78, 82.

94 CPR, 1292–1301, p. 438.

95 Parl. Writs, i, pp. 323–5; CDS, ii, no. 1092.

96 CCR, 1292–1302, pp. 372–4.

97 Lib. Quot., p. 208.

98 Ibid., p. 55.

99 Prestwich, Edward I, pp. 183–4; Lib. Quot., p. 114.

100 Prestwich, Edward I, pp. 483–4; Guisborough, p. 324; Itin., p. 149.

101 This is a rather curious arrangement since it rendered three south-eastern castles dependent on the unreliable shipment of victuals up the Forth, not to mention the fact that Roxburgh and Jedburgh were a considerable land journey away from Edinburgh. In practice, however, the evidence suggests that both garrisons continued to be supplied direct from Berwick.

102 Lib. Quot., pp. 145–8.

103 Stevenson, Documents, ii, pp. 401–2.

104 APS, i, p. 454; CDS, ii, no. 1109.

105 Lib. Quot., pp. 143–4.

106 Ibid., p. 147; Prestwich, Edward I, p. 502; CDS, ii, no. 1949; Barrow, Bruce, p. 105.

107 A.Z. Freeman, ‘Wall-breakers and river-bridgers; military engineers in the Scottish Wars of Edward I’, Journal of British Studies, 10 (Chicago, 1971), pp. 3–4, quoted in M.A. Haskell, ‘The Scottish Campaign of Edward I, 1303–4’, M.A. thesis, University of Durham (Durham, 1991), p. 13.

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