3.1 Scottish Wars of Independence: Baliol and Bruce

After Margaret's untimely death Scotland edged closer to civil war. In a last ditch effort to avoid civil war, the Scottish nobility invited Edward I of England to select from among their number the next King of Scotland. Edward I agreed but insisted that the two contenders for the Scottish throne first had to recognize him as Lord Paramount of Scotland. After some initial resistance, the two contenders—John Balliol and Robert Bruce—recognized Edward I as Lord Paramount. The title of Lord Paramount was one rank above king in the feudal ladder.

bruce vs balliol

At a feudal court (1292 AD), John Balliol was declared Scotland's king. Scotland had their king but Edward I was up to no good. Shortly after Ballliol became king, Edward began directly interfering more and more in Scotland's affairs. King John Balliol couldn't make any important decisions without first getting Edward's permission. In fact England's King made so difficult for John to rule effectively that the Scottish king had no choice but to renounce his allegiance to Edward.

Edward I's army invaded Scotland because John Balliol refused to assist England in their war against France. Actually, King John had signed the Auld Alliance with the Kingdom of France. This treaty united Scotland and France against England.

John sent a letter to Edward while the English king was stationed at Berwick-upon-Tweed. The letter stated that John had renounced his allegiance to Edward. Edward is said to have stated in response, "Oh foolish knave! What folly he commits. If he will not come to us we will go to him." And go to John the English didthe English defeated the Scots in the subsequent Battle of Dunbar on April 27, 1296.

John cut his ties to Edward insisting upon Scotland's complete independence. Edward I responded by invading Scotland. Edward attacked a Scottish border town called Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1296. He slaughtered everyone. In April of the same year, the English army defeated the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar (1296) in Lothian and by July Edward forced Balliol to abdicate at Kincardine Castle.

With Scotland's armies defeated and its nobles divided, Edward forced the remaining Scottish nobles to swear allegiance directly to him. In so far as Edward was concerned there'd be no new Scottish king. Edward I had the Stone of Destiny removed to London so that no new "Scottish" king could be proclaimed.