Newly crowned Edward III was defeated by Robert the Bruce, king of the Scots, and forced to agree the humiliating Treaty of Northampton (1328). Smarting for revenge, upon Bruce’s death Edward proclaimed Bruce’s old enemy Edward Balliol king of Scotland and prepared for war, besieging Berwick. Sir Archibald Douglas, the guardian of the infant King David II, marched to confront the invaders. Edward had taken a group of Scots noblemen hostage at Berwick, guarantors of a truce; when the truce expired without capitulation, he began executing the hostages, two per day. This provoked Douglas to attack the English army, in disastrously disadvantageous circumstances. Astride Halidon Hill, protected by ‘a great downward slope, with some precipices’, English longbowmen devastated the advancing Scottish pikemen. When the Scottish line broke and fled, Edward’s mounted knights pursued and cut them down. Sir Archibald was slain with most of his army: Edward’s puppet Balliol assumed control of Scotland, but would soon be deposed.
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