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  • Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester

    Doomed commander

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Who was he?

High-ranking, ambitious and splendid, the 23-year-old Gloucester was one of three earls fighting for Edward I. He was related to both kings, as Edward’s nephew and Bruce’s brother-in-law.

At Bannockburn

At Bannockburn Gloucester shared command of the prestigious vanguard with Hereford. On 23 June, he was thrown from his horse in the violence and confusion which followed Bruce’s killing of de Bohun. He was dragged to safety as his cavalry struggled against the bristling schiltron.

That night Gloucester tried to persuade Edward to delay confronting the Scottish army again while they rested and regrouped – but in vain. Eager to shake off accusations of cowardice, the next day Gloucester charged boldly at the head of his cavalry division. He was brought down at once by Scottish spearmen and killed, his body pierced by many spear wounds. He was the first English earl to be killed in action since 1265.

After Bannockburn

Gloucester was the most significant of all the English casualties – and would have been a valuable source of ransom income had he been captured alive. He was buried in Tewkesbury Abbey.

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