A History of Scotland episode 2 – Hammers of the Scots: Neil Oliver charts the 13th century story of the two ruthless men who helped transform the Gaelic kingdom of Alba into the Scotland we recognise today.
While Alexander II forged Scotland in blood and violence, William Wallace’s resistance to the nation-breaking King Edward I of England hammered national consciousness into the Scots.
A History of Scotland episode 2 – Hammers of the Scots
Alexander II of Scotland
Alexander II was King of Scotland from 1214 until his death. He concluded the Treaty of York (1237) which defined the boundary between England and Scotland, virtually unchanged today.
In 1215, the year after his accession, the clans Meic Uilleim and MacHeths, inveterate enemies of the Scottish crown, broke into revolt; but loyalist forces speedily quelled the insurrection. In the same year Alexander joined the English barons in their struggle against John of England, and led an army into the Kingdom of England in support of their cause. This action led to the sacking of Berwick-upon-Tweed as John’s forces ravaged the north.
The Scottish forces reached the south coast of England at the port of Dover where in September 1216, Alexander paid homage to the pretender Prince Louis of France for his lands in England, chosen by the barons to replace King John. But King John having died, the Pope and the English aristocracy changed their allegiance to his nine-year-old son, Henry, forcing the French and the Scots armies to return home.
Peace between Henry III, Louis of France, and Alexander followed on 12 September 1217 with the Treaty of Kingston. Diplomacy further strengthened the reconciliation by the marriage of Alexander to Henry’s sister Joan of England on 18 June or 25 June 1221.
Sir William Wallace was a Scottish knight who became one of the main leaders during the First War of Scottish Independence.
Along with Andrew Moray, Wallace defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in September 1297. He was appointed Guardian of Scotland and served until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298. In August 1305, Wallace was captured in Robroyston, near Glasgow, and handed over to King Edward I of England, who had him hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason and crimes against English civilians.
Since his death, Wallace has obtained an iconic status far beyond his homeland. He is the protagonist of Blind Harry’s 15th-century epic poem The Wallace and the subject of literary works by Sir Walter Scott and Jane Porter, and of the Academy Award-winning film Braveheart.
He was first cousin to Roger de Kirkpatrick. Roger himself was a third cousin to Robert the Bruce.