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Battle of Falkirk (1298)

History -- Military History -- List of battles

Table of contents
1 Prelude
2 Battle
3 Aftermath


Battle of Falkirk
ConflictWars of Scottish Independence
DateJuly 21, 1298
PlaceFalkirk, Scotland
ResultEnglish victory
Edward IWilliam Wallace
20,000 troops8,000 - 10,000 troops

William Wallace had secured control of Scotland with his victory against the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. Edward Longshanks had been distracted with his wars on the Continent, and did not return to retake Scotland until six months after the English defeat.


Edward and his reluctant army forced Wallace's Scots into a pitched battle at Falkirk. Wallace placed his men on higher ground overlooking a small creek (Westquarter Burn) with the Callender Wood to his rear. The ground opposite his centre was boggy. He deployed his men in four schiltrons, with archers and light troops between them, while his Noble cavalry were held in reserve.

Longshank's army entered the field in column led by three bodies of knights. The centre unit became mired in the marshy ground but disengaged itself to circle left while the second unit circled right to hit the Scottish left and right flanks respectively. The Scottish schiltrons held, but many archers and light troops were cut down by the English Knights. At this point, Wallace's noble cavalry, treacherously, left the field.

Unable to make headway against the leveled pikes of the Scots schiltrons with his Knights, Longshanks moved forward his archers and Irish mercenaries. Several historical sources record that Longshank's subject Welsh longbow units refused to participate. The English and Irish mercenaries were able, however, to inflict casualties and create confusion in the schiltrons, which the English Knights were eventually able to exploit. Finally, the schiltrons broke and the remnants of Wallace's army fled.


Wallace survived, and Edward was not able to follow up on his victory: lack of supplies forced him to return to England. Wallace's rebellion, however, was broken by the defeat at Falkirk.

See Also: History -- Military history -- List of battles -- History of Scotland