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» » Scotland and Wales in the 12th - 14th centuries
Scotland and Wales in the 12th - 14th centuries History of Britain (история Британии) 

Scotland keeps its Independence

After 1189, when William the Lion bought the independence of Scotland for a sum of 10,000 gold marks, there was peace with England for over a hundred years. William's successor Alexander II and his son Alexander III concentrated on opponents nearer home, like the Lords of Lorne and the Lords of the Isles, who recognized the king of Norway, not Scotland, as their overlord.

These efforts by the Scottish kings roused (рассердили) old King Haakon of Norway, and in 1263 a large Norwegian force appeared in the Clyde. Bad weather scattered (разметала) the ships, but the Norwegians managed to force their way ashore in Ayrshire. There Alexander met them and soundly beat them in the battle of Largs. As a result, Norway gave up the Hebrides to the king of Scots. However, the Lord of the Isles, caring little for overlords, whether Norwegian or Scots, continued to behave as an independent prince.

In 1286 Alexander III died after a fall from his horse. His sons had died before him, and the heir to the kingdom was a baby girl, Margaret, daughter of the king of Norway and Alexander's granddaughter. Scotland was left again without a strong head to wear the crown, at a time, unfortunately for the Scots, when the English crown was resting on a very strong head indeed, that of Edward I.

Edward suggested that the 'Maid of Norway' should marry his son. He sent a ship, with boxes of sweets, to fetch her, but she died on the way from Norway. Who was to reign now? Several nobles had claims of a kind, and the strongest candidates were Robert Bruce and John Balliol. Edward hastened to Scotland, declaring that he would help to judge who had the better claim. Under his menacing (грозный) eye, the Scottish nobles selected Balliol, Edward's choice.

Роберт Брюс
Роберт Брюс, 1274 - 1329

It was obvious that Edward's real aim was to gain control of Scotland himself. His chief reason for preferring Balliol to Bruce was that he believed Balliol would do what he was told. He knew both men, for both had fought with him in France and both held lands in England, which made them Edward's vassals.

Neither the Scots nor the English were yet a nation in our sense of the word. Edward I could count on support from the many Scottish nobles with English estates if he interfered in Scotland. When Balliol rebelled against his control, Edward invaded Scotland and defeated him with the aid of many Scots, including Bruce.

Balliol fled to France. Edward stormed through Scotland and forced the Scots to recognize him as king. When he returned to England, he left Scotland under English rule and carried away with him the Stone of Scone - the symbol of Scottish kingship brought from Ireland by the Scots of Dalriada 700 years earlier.

Trouble soon broke out. The leader of Scottish resistance was Sir William Wallace, who defeated an English army near Stirling (1297) by delaying his attack until the English were halfway across a bridge. This brought Edward, the 'Hammer of the Scots', to the scene once more. Wallace was defeated and, after seven years of guerilla fighting, captured and executed as a traitor in London.

A more powerful leader then arose. In 1307 Robert Bruce (son of Balliol's rival (соперник)) had himself crowned king of Scots at Scone. He was swiftly defeated by the English and had to flee to the Highlands for safely, but the flame of independence was not put out. Like the spider which, an old legend says, Bruce watched trying to climb its web while he was hiding in a cave, Bruce never gave up. The Black Douglas, his friend and ally, boldly drove the English out of his own castle. The ancestors of great clans like Campbell and Donald gave their support to Bruce. The English, in their captured fortresses, hung on grimly.

In 1307 Edward I, now old and failing, marched north yet again. But the Hammer of the Scots had struck his last blow. In Cumbria, his steps faltered, and at Burgh Sands, north of Carlisle, he died. His son, Edward II, who was no warrior, broke off the campaign.

One by one the English strongpoints in Scotland fell to Bruce and his men. By 1314, only Stirling was left. Pulling himself together, Edward II marched to the relief of Stirling castle. By the Bannock burn (stream), in sight of the castle, Bruce met him and routed (наголову разбил) him.

 битва при Бэннокберне
Битва при Бэннокберне, 1314 год

The battle of Bannockburn was the greatest victory the Scots ever won against the English. Although it marked the beginning, not the end, of a long war, it ensured the independence of Scotland from the English for 400 years.

Wales and the English Conquest

From Saxon times the English kings had tried to make Wales part of their kingdom. Some had been more successful than others, and the power struggle between England and Wales had swung to and fro like a seesaw: for a time Wales would be subdued, then a new outbreak would drive the English out, then a new English campaign would restore the balance.

In 1196 the Lord Rhys, justiciar of South Wales under Henry II and organizer of the greatest eisteddfod ever seen, died. After him, the royal house of Gwynedd, North Wales, provided the chief leaders of the Welsh. Llewelyn ap Iorwerth, 'the Great', who reigned for nearly half a century, almost succeeded in establishing a single united kingdom. He acknowledged the king of England as his personal overlord, but ruled most of Wales entirely in his own right.

Llewelyn was succeeded by his son David II, who died in 1246 without a direct heir. His brother Gruffydd, who had been killed by the English, left three sons, Owen, Llewelyn and David, to divide the inheritance between them.

The most famous of the three is Llewelyn ap Gruffydd. He is a great Welsh hero for his resistance to the English. Yet in the end Llewelyn, because he refused to give up, ensured that Wales would be brought permanently under the direct rule of the English government.

Лливелин ап Грифид, памятник в Лландовери
Лливелин ап Грифид, последний независимый правитель Уэльса. Памятник в городе Лландовери

For about ten years Llewelyn ap Gruffydd ruled nearly all Wales without serious opposition. But he failed to pay agreed taxes to England, he avoided making his oath of loyalty to the English king, and he plotted with the French, and with rebellious English barons, against the king. These were risky tactics, even if Llewelyn's position in Wales were secure. It was not: he had quarrelled with his brother David, and in 1274 David fled to England.

Three years later Llewelyn's power suddenly crumbled. As the English armies advanced on Wales, his support withered away in Powys and South Wales. Within a few months he found himself no more than Prince of Gwynedd and humble vassal of Edward I.

In those days there were great differences between the Welsh and the English. They were different races with different customs and, more important, different laws. Having subdued the Welsh, Edward said they should keep their old customs, though whether he was sincere or not, arguments over laws and language broke out frequently between Welsh and English.

In 1282 the Welsh rose in revolt. This time Llewelyn was in alliance with his brother David and the princes of the south. It was almost the first, and the last, truly national revolt.

The powerful forces of Edward I approached - knights from Gascony, mercenaries from Flanders, the great Marcher lords, and fighting men from all over England. There could be only one result. Llewelyn ap Gruffydd was killed while attacking an English castle. Edward had his head stuck on a spike at Conway Castle, with a wreath of ivy as a crown: an old Welsh story said that a Welsh prince would one day be crowned by the English. David, after being driven across North Wales, was betrayed to the English, who executed him as a traitor. All resistance ceased.

Welsh independence was lost for ever. Edward built great new castles at Conway, Caernarvon, Harlech and other places to guard against a revival in North Wales. The government was reorganized on the English pattern: the country was divided into shires with a sheriff ('shire reeve (смотритель)') for each shire (these shires disappeared in 1974 under a new local government act). The towns, inhabited mostly by Englishmen and pro-English Welsh, were strengthened and given charters of rights and liberties. But not even Edward I cared to challenge the Marcher lords: they remained supreme.

Замок Харлек (Harlech Castle) построен Эдуардом I для усиления английского влияния в Уэльсе

While Edward was at Caernarvon in 1284 his eldest son was born, and the king declared that, since Llewelyn's line was extinct, he would present the Welsh with a new prince who 'could not speak a word of English'. It was a conqueror's joke.

But not only a joke. Seven years later, the young prince was created Prince of Wales and the eldest son of the English monarch has been given that title ever since.

History of Britain (История Британии)

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