In 1287 Edward I exploited Scotland’s succession crisis, following the death of King Alexander III, to impose his suzerainty; when the Scots demurred, Edward’s riposte was ruthless. Marching north in 1296, he brutally sacked Berwick, routed the Scots at Dunbar and returned to England with the Stone of Scone, the coronation imprimatur of Scottish monarchy. Then the Scottish knight William Wallace emerged as a rebel leader, routing an army sent by Edward at Stirling Bridge in 1297. This stirred Edward to personally command a punitive expedition, and in 1298, the Scots were defeated at Falkirk. When Edward ended the war by capturing Stirling Castle (1304) he sent the defenders back in to try out his new toy, ‘Warwolf’ a giant trebuchet: they re-surrendered. In August 1305, William Wallace, the bane of Edward I’s ambition to subdue Scotland, was betrayed and hung, drawn and quartered at Smithfield. Victory for the ‘Hammer of the Scots’ seemed complete.
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