Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/132

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Robert the Bruce.

[1296 A.D.

slain. Walsingham puts them at the absurd figure of 60,000, probably three times more than Wallace's entire army. Hemingburgh says 56,000, and Buchanan, writing long afterwards from a Scottish stand-point, 10,000. Of the losses on the English side, some certain information is conveyed by the compensation paid by King Edward for 111 horses, killed in this action, the property of his knights and esquires.[1] The Scottish chroniclers attempt to explain this great defeat by reason of dissensions between Wallace, Sir John of Bonkill, and Comyn; and the last named knight, who is believed to have commanded the cavalry, has been accused of treachery because his squadron fled. There is not the slightest ground for such a charge. Nothing is known of any disagreement between the Scottish leaders; the subsequent disfavour which fell upon the Comyns would be enough to prompt patriotic historians to repeat any slander about one of that house; but in fact the excellence and numbers of the English cavalry, supported by their famous archers, are quite enough to account for the defeat of the weaker army.

What, it may be asked, was the Earl of Carrick about all this time? Hailes asserts that he joined the national army as soon as Edward crossed the Border. This is founded on the authority of Hemingburgh, who states that, when Edward marched west from Stirling after the battle of Falkirk, Carrick burnt the castle of Ayr, which he held, and retired. But a very different light is thrown upon the attitude of the future King of Scotland while

  1. Bain, ii., 257, 259.