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Inspirational Reads

Independence Day

June 24, 2009

Ready for a history lesson? Sure you are. Swill down some more coffee and hop into the Way Back Machine with me. I cleaned up the mess from where Mr. Peabody peabodied all over the back corner. Febreze works wonders!

On this day in 1314, Scotland won back its independence from the usurpers to the south, sometimes known as England. Why should you care? Because, one of the greatest movies ever made that doesn't involve Indiana High School Basketball ended with this exact scene. In case that doesn't jar your memory, try this:

"In the year of our Lord 1314, patriots of Scotland, starving and outnumbered, charged the fields at Bannockburn. They fought like warrior poets. They fought like Scotsmen. And they won their freedom."

The Battle of Bannockburn took place today 695 years ago. Unlike in the movie, however, Robert the Bruce's army was actually there to fight Edward II (who had not died, but was rather quite alive and full on 100% arrogant). Robert's brother, Edward the Bruce, had been laying siege to Stirling Castle and had worked out a deal for the surrender of the castle to the besieging forces...so long as no reinforcements arrived. However, Edward II was bringing reinforcements...lots of them, so in order to stave off having his brother's forces summarily wiped out, Robert the Bruce headed out to slow down Edward II's advance and thus stop the reinforcements from arriving. They met at Bannockburn (after some clever maneuvering about the Scottish countryside by Robert's forces). The battle itself raged for two days and is considered the decisive battle in the war for Scottish Independence, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the beginning of Scotland's freedom.

While it is true that the Scotsmen were outnumbered that day (some 7000 for the Scots and probably 16,000 English), the size of the English army actually worked against it. It was difficult getting the soldiers into the desired positions to defend the ground, largely because there were so many of them, and also largely because Robert the Bruce had done such a fantastic job of funneling the English forces into a very narrow, almost indefensible position between the Stirling and Bannockburn rivers. Not only that, but good old Edward Longshanks decided to not heed one of his commander's advice about holding back, and instead called the man a coward. Pissed, the Earl of Gloucester stormed headlong into the Scottish ranks, dying upon the "forest of spears" that projected forth from the front of the Scottish lines.

You remember the spears, right? The scene, right before Stephen shows up, and Wallace looks to the trees for inspiration.

Wallace: "We'll make spears. Hundreds of them. Long spears. Twice as long as a man."

Hamish: "That long?"

Wallace: "Ay."

Hamish: "Some men are longer than others."

Campbell: "Your mother's been telling stories about me again, eh?"

Anyway, with Gloucester dead and the English army pinned and in disarray, shouts went up from the Scottish lines. This caused the camp followers (you know, cooks, farriers, whores) to pick up whatever weapon they could find and join in the fight. The English lines broke and tried to flee across the Bannockburn. Fortunately, there were enough men in the army that, after the first waves fell into the water and drowned, the remainders could cross the river on their backs. Edward fled with his personal bodyguard and the rest of the English army had to try and find their way back to the border--across ninety miles of very hostile territory. Most of them didn't make it, as they were either run down by the Scottish forces or killed outright when they crossed unfriendly lands. Of the 16,000 men Edward II brought north to face the Scotsmen, 11,000 were killed, along with 700 knights and 500 more were captured and ransomed back to their homes.

One of the more amusing parts (which I am going to steal for my magnum opus) is that, prior to the battle, Robert the Bruce paused on his march and the entire Scottish army knelt in prayer. Seeing this, Edward II loudly pronounced "They pray for mercy."

One of his men then responded with "Mercy, yes, but from God, not you. These men will conquer...or die." I imagine that old Edward shit himself with fury after that statement.

So if your birthday is today, you share your birthday with Scotland...sort of. Also, you share your birthday with yet another of Derek Jeter's conquests, Minka Kelly. Rowr.

18 comments:

Kimizzy said...

First, bitches! Yay!

Minka is yummy, and you made me laugh.

Great way to start the day.

Moooooog35 said...

Minka Minka
Play with my Dinka

red said...

Gah! Layla Garrity is always popping up to ruin my day!

Thankfully, my people (the English) have been able to keep those pesky Scots under our thumb in the almost 700 years since!

And finally, today is also Pistols at Dawn's birthday. Let's all pour some out for our fallen homie.

Noel said...

I enjoy your history lessons. You would have made world history more fun than the guilt-ridden hate fest my high school class was.

And you know, there's something strangely sexy about a woman wearing men's undergarments, or like his long sleeve dress shirt and just socks on underneath.

Eric said...

I just forgot everything about Scotland you said with that last picture. Now I have to read it again...

Nej said...

Great lesson (as usual). You'll do a double take and stop reading my blog when I tell you I've never seen the movie. :-) My best friend in college named her Scottish Terrier puppy Sir William Wallace.

Soda and Candy said...

Ah, knee high socks.

Um... and Scotland hurrah!

*great save, Soda*

Mr. Condescending said...

Minnnnka

Kimizzy said...

Red, um... Pistols is a fallen homie? Wha? Did something happen? (Yes, I'm out of the loop)

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Kimizzy: Yeah, Minka is a great way to start the day. Part of a healthy breakfast. Unless Jeter gave her his herpes.

@ Moooooog35: You gotta stand in line, pal.

@ red: I hadn't heard of her until the boys at Rumors and Rants introduced me to her body...of work. You can blame them.

Also, I'm pouring a little beer out on the ground in honor of Pistols.

@ Noel: Thank you, sir. And, yeah, my high school history class was guilt-ridden, too. At least the American History one.

@ Eric: Come for the history lesson, stay for the boobs.

@ Nej: You've never seen Hoosiers? Dear God, woman, get thee to a Target and buy a copy for $4.99.

Oh, wait, Braveheart. Right. Carry on.

@ Soda&Candy: Those who wear kilts also wear knee-high socks. See the tie-in?

@ Mr. C: Two words: Fuck and Yes.

@ Kimizzy: Pistols switched his blog to private a few weeks ago. And the blogosphere has been a less sesquipedalian place ever since.

Kimizzy said...

Well that whore. I have been way too out of it lately. So you weren't invited either? Man.. that sucks.

Jidai said...

Also Wallace was two years or so dead when that French Princess was born. Oh historically inaccurate movies, you and your silliness.

A lot of Scotts were angry over that whole, Robert the Bruce portrayed as mean thing.

red said...

Oh, I blame them for many things far worse than that.

Soda and Candy said...

Please, like there's ever a need to justify knee-high socks.

; )

TishTash said...

Oh, is that why they don't speak English?

Lisa-tastrophies said...

Mjenks! I love that you know this stuff. And I love it even more that you know it about my one of my family homelands! If Wizardcat wasn't already my secret crush, you would be!!

Here's a glass of Aberlour to you my Duncan family & to the land we hold so dear:

Disce pati

I'll let you find the translation. Scots have been doing this for years.

snowelf said...

That Hamish picture is awesome.

I am totally changing my name to Minka.

--snow

(Wait, I'm doing that breaking my sweet and innocent image thing with you again, aren't I? Sorry, sorry...)

Fancy Schmancy said...

I was hoping for a picture of Mel Gibson's ass, you disappoint me.