England had long sought to control the entire island of Britain. In 1276 AD, the English subjigated Wales. Then they turned their attention north to Scotland in 1286 following the death of Scotland's king, Alexander III. The Scots were anxious to remain independent.

For four decades the English directly meddled and interfered in the affairs of Scotland. In the end the Scots achieved full independence in 1328; however, the path to independence was hardly a smooth one.

The fundamental problem affecting Scotland was that its nobility was divided in its loyalty. If the Scottish leadership had united against the English they may well have achieved independence from England much sooner; but it was not to be.

Too many Scottish nobles were selfish. Many nobles believed that the Scottish people existed to give the nobility its position in the feudal hierarchy. But there were minor nobles (like William Wallace) who believed the nobles had an obligation to see that the Scottish people were free.