Matthew almost dropped the pancakes on his fork onto his lap at such a statement; Bruce murdered his own rival?
“Yes, those were the times that we lived in. However I have gotten a bit ahead of myself,” Arthur said as he took some of the pancakes to eat.
The Canadian always wondered why Arthur never really ate to the same extent as America, for a short time they had been brothers, however they didn’t really seem like it. He did have part of France in him, the obvious French speaking – although this has been tweaked by his own people to make the language their own rather than borrowed from another country, a country that later abandoned them. Yet you could still tell that he and France had some history together, with England and America, aside from the war of Independence, there wasn’t much there.
“Aren’t you hungry?” He dared ask, feeling like a child as he asked, being so timid again compared to the greater nation.
Arthur blinked in surprise at the question, he looked at his lone pancake on the plate and then at Matthew’s small tower and smiled; “I just prefer eating one thing at a time is all,”
“Oh,” He should have remembered that, he made pancakes for Arthur long ago when he visited Canada and it was the same answer.
“They are lovely though,” He complimented him; “Is something wrong?”
He shook his head and smiled slightly; “No, no, I just… Forgot,”
The older nation laughed; “Well that is fair I think,”
“So, what happened next?”
“Well, Edward sent out forces to fight Wallace at Falkirk in 1298….”
We of course went with them, I was not about to let my brother think me as a coward. I probably should have told you this sooner Matthew, back then it wasn’t just soldiers who fought with us.
Edward gathered an impressive force, with over two thousand men-at-arm; which are those who fought hand to hand with swords; and twelve thousand infantry; who were part of the charge; all of them were paid for the services they provided for the Crown of England. There was more though, back then men served without pay as a statement of personal independence – however there wasn’t many of them – others were for forgiveness of debts to the Crown – the King always forgave those who fought in the battles even if the debt was large, if they died it wouldn’t matter, the pardon would be given to the families, it was the same for criminal charges, that of course was dependant on the charge itself. Some men just came for the adventure, usually son, who were second in-line to the family titles and who had nothing to lose, there was a large force of Welshmen who came armed with the longbow who also wanted a piece of the battle.
As we advanced into Scotland we learned that Wallace’s own army was shadowing us, trying to avoid a battle until our armies shortage of supplies and money would force us to withdraw, when that happened the Scots would charge.
Had the Scots, or at least my brother, notice our supply fleet was delayed due to the bad weather; our force was tired and hungry as we reached central Scotland.
“My King…” I looked at the man who I had worked with, god my heart hated to see him look so old, the lack of food stemmed to him as well, a King might eat well at court, but on the war front, he was nearly the same as the rest of his soldiers.
“Don’t worry Arthur,” He told me, a hand went up to stop me for talking; “I know. The Welsh are demoralised…”
“Badly, my King,”
We didn’t realise how badly, when we camped near Edinburgh, the Welsh suddenly had a drunken riot that had to be broken up by the English soldiers who in turn killed eighty Welshmen.
Wales wasn’t pleased on learning that, but neither he nor I could have done anything to stop it.
“My King, we might have to retreat,” One of the Generals said to him, though he would have faced the wraith of Edward, he would have lived through it.
“Yes, yes I know,” Edward said and nodded slowly; “We shall slowly fall back…”
A solider interrupted us; “Sir, a runner has come with some news,”
“Show him in,” The King said gruffly, taking a sip of his wine, bracing himself for more bad news.
The man, a teenager I should say, fell to his knees in front of the King, so tired was he from his running to ensure the King got the message.
Edward looked at me and I nodded, taking a spare cup and filling it with wine to give to the boy.
“You have news?”
“Y… Y… Yessss Sire,” The boy gasped out and the General rolled his eyes.
“Well, speak, you are in the presence of the King of England!” He snapped.
“S… Sorry Ssssire,” The boy said, shaking slightly as I crouched down and gave him some wine to drink; “Thank you Sir,”
He quickly downed the cup and bowed once more, more respectfully than his collapsing to the knees when he first arrived.
“My King, the Scottish army has taken up position in the wood of Callendar,”
Edward look at his General who spoke; “It’s only thirteen miles away,”
“T… They are planning to pursue your army as you retreat,” He bowed his head and Edward laughed.
“As God lives… They need not pursue me, for I will meet them this day!” Edward looked at the boy; “You shall be well rewarded for your duty to me, and for turning the tide of this war,”
The boy just looked at his King in awe, not knowing what he meant, but he got to his knees and bowed once more; “I am at your service my King,”
“Rest up; you have done enough running for us, now it is time for us to fight,”
I heard the battle plans, there was to be groups of four, with the three Lords taking high command and the King would be in the Centre with his own army. The plan worked, Wallace kept to his safe strategy, which usually worked, but not this time, the English knights wanted blood on Lord Bek’s side, to such an extent that they all overruled him in his wanting to keep to where they were so the King would get into position without a threat. The Knights just went and charged at the Scots, an attack that they didn’t believe would happen; after all we English had a code that we followed, one of honour. Of course given time, given hunger and lack of sleep and anyone would go mad on a battle field.
Men from both sides screamed, as a battle call, in pain it didn’t matter, when Edward got to his position, with me being next to him we saw the battle ground and he restored the discipline that had been lacking in his absence.
“Order the knights to withdraw,” Edward told me, I was surprised at the order but rode off to get the flag waved for the knights to return back; “Lord Norfolk, get the archers in place,”
As I rode back to my position I saw the archers were in place and overcame rather quickly the smaller force of Scottish archers. The rest of their targets were easy, some had no defence and so nowhere to hide, being unable to retreat or even attack – give that it was suicide – the battle was lost for the Scots as soon as the arrows began to fall.
I felt pride once more for my King, being able to so soundly defeat the Scots again after such a hard beginning.
The cavalry waited, observing the King’s command, as he was waiting for the Scottish ranks to be thin enough for them to charge and finish the job.
“Lord Kirkland I do believe it is time for us to retreat,” The King said with a nod and I followed him as the soldiers gathered themselves and looked for any survivors or wounded.
“We did well in that battle,” I told him and he nodded.
“We shall need to go to Carlisle, the army is hungry, and I don’t mean for battle. We are in no position to carry out anything further,”
It wasn’t just hunger that affected then army, but disease as well, infection from most of the wounds was always happening and not much could be done about it either, aside from making sure the wound was clean.
Edward had hoped that he could hold the army together and gain more men for a new campaign, but many deserted, although he did try to prevent further desertions by the prospect of gaining Scottish lands to those who remained, although this led to more disputes.
My King had no choice by to dismiss the greater part of the army, although we remained on the border until the end of the year, when we returned south, both of us convince that the disloyal Barons had robbed us of the greater fruits of Falkirk.
“My King, we have Stirling Castle,” I told him one night at the border, he nodded.
“Yes, the jewel in the Scottish crown,” Edward stroked his beard thoughtfully; “I’ve heard word that Robert the Bruce was also there… Supporting Wallace,”
I looked at him, his eyes were darker, oh the Bruce shouldn’t have supported Wallace. He had sworn fealty to Edward back in 1296 when he inherited the title as Earle of Carrick.
Now that we have learned of this news, Edward is within his rights to seek out revenge.
I never learned of what happened until we were back in London, Bruce’s lands had been laid to waste, although he did make peace with Edward and later he was made one of the four Regents of Scotland.
Matthew looked at him in awe; “Y… You saw it all?”
“Yes, the battle itself, but I didn’t see my brother. Which was unusual, since he was normally there for all the other battles, Wales was always there. I haven’t learned why he missed this battle,” Arthur told him; “Wallace was good and a hero to many Scots, but it was Robert the Bruce who should really be looked up to,”
“Wh… Why’s that?”
“Wallace never truly fought; as I have said Matthew he would avoid an all-out battle at all costs unless he had to,” Arthur poured out some more tea.
“So, why do the Scots look up to him?”
“I blame Mel Gibson,” Arthur said seriously, but Canada saw the spark in his eyes to show that he was teasing and he laughed.