Battle of Methven

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The Battle of Methven was part of the First War of Scottish Independence, fought on 19th June 1306 at Methven, west of Perth.

In Scotland, Robert the Bruce was already engaged in a full-scale civil war with the family and friends of John Comyn. The coronation in March had given him some legitimacy; but overall the position was very uncertain. His wife, Elizabeth de Burgh, the daughter of the Earl of Ulster, and now queen of Scots, is reported to have said 'It seems to me we are but a summer king and queen whom children crown in their sport'.

Aymer de Valence, the English general acting for Edward I, moved quickly, and by the middle of summer he had made his base at Perth, where he was joined by many of the supporters of John Comyn. King Robert came from the west, ready to meet his foe in battle. He was prepared to observe on this occasion the gentlemanly conventions of feudal warfare, while the English adopted less orthodox tactics. Valence was invited to leave the walls of Perth and join Bruce in battle, but he declined.

The Scottish forces were under the direct command of Robert the Bruce and are generally numbered around 4,500 strong although this figure is probably over-inflated. Bruce's deputy at Methven was Christopher Seton with other notable commanders including Gilbert Hay and James Douglas.

The king, perhaps believing that Valence's refusal to accept his challenge was a sign of weakness, retired only a few miles to nearby Methven, where he made camp for the night. Before dawn on 19 June, his little army was taken by surprise and almost destroyed, because Bruce had accepted Valence at his word and failed to take the precaution of placing pickets around the camp. His entire army was routed.

Bishops William de Lamberton of St Andrews and Robert Wishart of Glasgow were quickly seized and taken south, and incarcerated in an English dungeon, saved only from execution by their clerical orders.

Bruce barely escaped and fled with a few followers to the Scottish Highlands.



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    Last modified: Wednesday, 18 July 2018