Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saturday Chronicles: Dance of Dynasties - Rebellion, Defiance and Victory


"We come here with no peaceful intent, but ready for battle, determined to avenge our wrongs and set our country free."

Long before America experienced 9/11, another 9th of September etched its way into the annals of history.  That September of 1297 saw a massively overmatched Scottish force meet with, engage and destroy a superior English force.
The natural choke point of Sterling bridge negated the English advantages and forced them onto a slow, narrow front.  They confidently strode forward against a small contingent of Scots, the outcome all but written.

The cunning Scots lured the English into attacking at this disadvantageous spot, whereupon pikemen and archers caused the English advance to shudder to a halt.  The Scots launched themselves against the English when enough of the English force was over the bridge to make it worthwhile, and make reinforcement/retreat all but impossible for the hapless English across the narrow bridge. Unable to bring the preponderance of their forces to bear, the English suffered fatally at the hands skilled in butchery and hearts hardened by a long train of English abuses of Scot pride.

History is replete with examples of overconfident foes ignoring key terrain (Sterling was the main entry point to Northern Scotland) and assuming away capabilities until it was too late, save for the crows and stray animals to feast upon the fallen.  Thermopylae, Kasserine... many places drenched in the blood of the overconfident, the poorly led, the holders of poorly conceived assumptions.

Back to the battle at hand...

Outnumbered and out-armed, many felt that the Scottish attempt at defense against the far superior English forces was lost before it had even begun.

Instead, the Scottish defensive forces inflicted 70% losses on the English.  That battle, and the victory, was forever immortalized in the not-historically-accurate Hollywood movie, "Braveheart".

You can read a brief synopsis of the battle here:

The battle had a shocking social aspect to it that is not commonly understood.  Mounted knights were the pinnacle of European martial chivalry.  Yet, infantry in the form of coarse pikemen dealt this contemporary equivalent of the Abrams tank a deadly blow, not just physically and quite mortally, but to the sense of invincibility previously enjoyed by the elite.  Modern equivalent to this is the mujhadeen and the IED, or Donald Trump and his insurgent assault upon the tony recesses of the GOP establishment.  In many ways, this was a class war then, much as it is now.

In closing, take a moment to reflect on this suitable passage from the Bible.  Understand that William Wallace could not have succeeded surrounded by  a mob of naysayers and "nattering naboobs of negativity".  As a natural leader, his followers respected him for his prowess.  He owed his followers to lead by example with his own "skin in the game". Hugh De Cressingham had his actual skin in the game, it being made into a baldrick for Wallace's sword.  Many state that Wallace's victory at Stirling Bridge was "short-lived" because he met the English King Edward again on the battlefield 10 months later at Falkirk, where Wallace was defeated, but Edward's men were starving and exhausted, so in spite of winning, they were forced to retreat and were unable to hold their position.

1 Thessalonians 5:11Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

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