BiographyAs Earl of Carrick, the young Robert Bruce was a waverer in the Scottish independence struggle. However, virtually forced to declare himself king after murdering a rival, Robert became leader of resistance to the English.
At first a fugitive with a handful of followers, he began an increasingly ambitious guerrilla war, ambushing patrols, destroying isolated fortresses, raiding northern England, and laying waste the lands of his Scots enemies. A victory over a small English army at Loudoun Hill in 1307 showed the potential of his spearmen, fighting in the close formation known as a schiltron. Confronted by the English king, Edward II, at Bannockburn in 1314, Robert opened the fighting by killing an English knight in personal combat. He chose boggy ground for the battle to disadvantage the English mounted knights and - deploying his spearmen aggressively in a mass push - drove the enemy from the field with heavy losses. Bannockburn established Scottish independence, recognized by the English in 1328.