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March 15th 1312

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Robert the Bruce rescues Perth

After the defeat of Wallace at the battle of Falkirk in 1298, Edward 1st of England, though unable to completely subjugate the country, had control of most of the large towns in Scotland.

The town of Perth was occupied, fortified and garrisoned with a large force of English soldiers. It was an important centre, important enough to be the residence of Edward’s son for several years. But by 1307, Edward 1st had died and Robert the Bruce had started the long reconquest of Scotland which was to be crowned with the ultimate victory at Bannockburn in 1314.

In 1311, Bruce and his followers besieged the town of Perth but were unable to breach the defences. In the spring of the following year another attempt was made.

“Bruce would not desist from his purpose, or suffer this single walled town for ever to baffle his efforts. Providing himself with scaling ladders, and such other instruments that he could find, he speedily renewed the siege, at a time when those within the town were pleasing themselves with the persuasion that they were enclosed within impregnable walls and had no future siege to fear. He chose a dark night and, in its silence taking a chosen band, conducted them himself in person, partly wading, partly swimming across a ditch deep broad and full of water that surrounded the walls. The rest were animated on this, as on many other occasions, by the example of the daring valour with which the King exposed himself the foremost to danger. The contest among them was who should first cross the ditch, and, by the scaling ladders which they had carried with them, mount the walls. This gallant and perilous enterprise succeeded. The King himself was second to enter the town. The garrison and townspeople were easily overpowered. In the castle, and in the stores of the merchants, a considerable booty was found of those things which the captors wanted the most for the relief of their own necessities. The slaughter of the vanquished was humanely stayed as soon as the resistance ceased. The houses were burned and the walls and fortifications levelled with the ground. By this happy achievement all Perthshire and Strathearn was freed from servitude to the English and reduced under the authority of King Robert.” 

Soon afterwards the castles of Roxburgh, Dumfries and Edinburgh fell to the Scottish forces.

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