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The battle of Falkirk on the 22nd of July 1298 was fought between the forces of King Edward I. of England and those of the Scottish national party under Sir William Wallace. The latter, after long baffling the king’s attempts to bring him to battle, had taken up a strong position south of the town behind a morass. They were formed in four deep and close masses (“ schiltrons “) of pikemen, the light troops screening the front and flanks and a body of men-at-arms standing in reserve. It was perhaps hoped that the English cavalry would plunge into the morass, for no serious precautions were taken as to the flanks, but in any case Wallace desired no more than to receive an attack at the halt, trusting wholly to his massed pikes.

The English right wing first appeared, tried the morass in vain, and then set out to turn it by a long detour; the main battle under the king halted in front of it, while the left wing under Antony Bee, Dishop of Durham, was able to reach the head of the marsh without much delay. Once on the enemy’s side of the obstacle the bishop halted to wait for Edward, who was now following him, but his undisciplined barons, shouting ”‘Tis not for thee, bishop, to teach us war. Go say mass.“ drove off the Scottish archers and men-at-arms and charged the nearest square of pikes, which repulsed them with heavy losses. On the other flank the right wing, its flank march completed, charged with the same result. But Edward, who had now joined the bishop with the :entre or “main battle,” peremptorily ordered the cavalry to stand fast, and, taught by his experience in the Welsh wars, Brought up his archers. The longbow here scored its first victory In a pitched battle. Before long gaps appeared in the close ranks of pike heads, and after sufficient preparation Edward again launched his men-at-arms to the charge. The shaken masses then gave way one after the other, and the Scots fled in all directions.

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