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Blind Harry's Wallace: Synopsis

The Life and Heroick Actions of the Renoun'd Sir William Wallace,
General and Governour of Scotland
by William Hamilton of Gilbertfield

Book VIII, Chapter I
How WALLACE put Corspatrick out of Scotland

After five months of peace a convening of the lords and barons is called in St. Johnstoun (Perth) to settle internal matters and debates. All assemble there, save Corspatrick. Wallace, addressing the Parliament, asks the consent of the lords to forgive Corspatrick's past deeds, providing he would admit fault and swear loyalty to the Scottish crown. They agree, and a letter is sent to Corspatrick, asking his compliance and offering his share of the government.

Corspatrick's reply is one of disdain toward not only the Parliament, but also of Wallace who he mocks as "That King of Kyle." He goes on to state that he's not obliged to answer Scotland's call; he's free to do as he pleases, and states that he also has great estates in England.

Wallace, angered by the reply - particularly by being called "King of Kyle" - tells the assembled lords that there can only be one King to reign over Scotland, and he is not that person; he is a loyal subject. He then vows to kill Corspatrick.

Wallace leaves with two hundred men, heading toward Kinghorn; the next day they cross the Firth of Forth. In Musselburgh Wallace meets with Robert Lauder, who hates Edward "as he hated Hell," and is more than willing to seek out Corspatrick with Wallace. Their numbers increase to four hundred with the addition of Chrystal Seatoun and his men, and twenty more with Squire Lyle, whom they meet at Linton.

Linton reports that Corspatrick's army is marching from Cockburnspath to Dunbar. Lauder spurs them on to the fight, but Wallace says they should not just rush in, that Corspatrick is a tough opponent.

They march by East Dunbar, but are noticed by Corspatrick who engages them in battle in a field by Innerweik. Corspatrick's force numbers nine hundred; Wallace commands four hundred. The battle was "both terrible and strong" with many casualties before Corspatrick leaves the field with the few men he has left, heading toward Cockburnspath.

Wallace then leads his men toward Dunbar, but is told that there are no provisions nor men of worth in the castle to defend it. He takes the castle easily, gives command of it to Chrystal Seaton, and continues on to Cockburnspath with his three hundred men, still pursuing Cospatrick.

Corspatrick and his men are fleeing before Wallace, from Cockburnspath to Buncle (Bonkill) Wood, then to Norham. Wallace, pleased with Corspatrick's retreat, rides to Coldstream and takes rest by the River Tweed. He then turns his force toward the west, seeking out more men.

Cospatrick continues on to England where he seeks out new supplies. He makes complaint to Bishop Bek about Wallace chasing him from Scotland. Bek can understand this – he too has been chased from Scotland by Wallace. To Cospatrick's surprise Bek rallies all of Northumberland to rise up in anticipation of engaging Wallace in battle once more. Bek also orders Bruce to go to Scotland, "to win his own," concocting a story that Wallace has set himself up as King.

Thirty thousand English troops cross over into Scotland, as ships are sent up from London and anchored offshore at Dunbar to ensure that no supplies come in. Cospatrick, leading twenty thousand, besieges Dunbar, while Bek and Bruce wait back at Norham with ten thousand. Wallace heads toward Dunbar with five thousand to rescue Seaton, who he left in command there.

At Yester, Wallace is joined by Hay and his force of fifty. Hay tells Wallace he should fight, saying that if defeated Corspatrick could not rise again. Bek, in the meantime, has received a message from Corspatrick that Wallace is heading toward Dunbar. Bek rides through the Lammermuir Hills and sets up an ambush at Spotmoor.

Corspatrick in the meantime has reversed course and heads toward Wallace. The Scots realize they are vastly out-numbered and Jop rides off to rally more men. Wallace, though, says that time is too short; the English army is too close; as long as they're not outnumbered by more than four-to-one he'll not retreat. He rallies the army to prepare for battle.

Read Book VIII, Chapter I in its original dialect.

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