Bold, quick-thinking and utterly committed, Edward was Robert Bruce’s only surviving younger brother and right-hand man.
A veteran fighter, Edward was a key figure in the desperate years of guerrilla combat before Bannockburn, besieging and capturing a number of castles in western Scotland. After the slaughter of his three brothers and humiliating capture of his mother and sisters by the English, the conflict had a keenly-felt personal edge.
It was Edward’s actions which triggered the battle of Bannockburn. In 1314 Edward held Stirling Castle under siege. He made a deal with the occupying commander, Philip Mowbray that unless the castle was relieved by the English by 24 June, then it would be handed back to the Scots. This spurred Edward II into action: the battle was on.
Edward commanded one of the three divisions of Bruce’s army. He led a tight-packed schiltron of spearmen who saw off the English vanguard on 23 June.
On 24 June his schiltron advanced relentlessly, driving back the disordered English cavalry and slaying the reckless Gloucester.
In 1315, Edward invaded Ireland, then under English rule, as part of Bruce’s campaign to defend all Scotland’s borders against repeat invasion from England.
He proclaimed himself high king of Ireland but was killed in battle three years later.