Young, eager but inexperienced, Walter Stewart was from one of the great families of Scotland. The Stewarts had the honour of being ‘stewards’ to the king – traditionally, one of the great offices of state.
Although one source claims he commanded his own division at Bannockburn, the same account describes him as ‘beardless lad’ at the time of battle, so Stewart surely lacked the experience for this. Instead, he probably fought with Edward Bruce and his schiltron of spearmen from across Scotland.
Stewart was one of those knighted on the morning of 24 June in a morale-boosting ritual. That day the schiltron forced back the disordered English cavalry and slew the reckless Gloucester.
Within a year or so of the battle, Stewart married Bruce’s only daughter, Marjorie and became son-in-law to the king. He served as a close councillor to King Robert but died relatively young in 1327.
Bruce’s son, David, died childless, so it was Walter Stewart’s son, Robert, who became king of Scotland. He was the first of the Stewart monarchs who would rule Scotland, and later the United Kingdom, for over 300 years.