War on the Horizon All images taken from The Scottish and Welsh Wars 1250 –1400, Christopher Rothero, Osprey Military, 1984
Types of soldiers in the middle ages – foot soldiers Foot soldiers are sometimes referred to as infantry or men-at-arms. They made up the majority of medieval armies. It was their job to secure battlefields and capture towns. English foot soldiers tended to be better armed and have better armour than their Scottish counterparts.
Types of soldiers in the Middle Ages – archers Archers tended to have little or no armour as that would just get in the way of shooting the enemy – most archers were common peasants. English archers carried longbows. These were very powerful and could pierce most types of armour. Later, in the Middle Ages, archers become more important than any other type of soldier.
Types of soldiers in the Middle Ages – knights Knights wore the heaviest type of armour. It meant that they were almost invulnerable. Warhorses were trained to run into battle: they could kill with their hooves. Before the Scottish wars, most battles were won by knights. The army that had the most knights usually won. Later the knights become less important.
Castles and sieges Castles played an important role in the Wars of Independence. Many of Scotlands castles changed hands several times throughout the conflict. Castles were built to control and defend the surrounding area. They were also often built as symbols of status and wealth.
Attacking a castle Siege: Attackers would simply surround the castle and wait. They would try to starve the defenders into submission. Battering ram: A wooden log would be rammed against the castle door or wall to make a hole in the defences and get into the castle. Siege tower: Built of wood, the siege tower was rolled on its wheels to the castle wall. Attackers would use it to climb over the castle walls. Trebuchet (catapult): These were used to throw large boulders at the castle walls in an attempt to knock them down. Mining: Attackers would dig under the castle walls. Bribery/negotiations: Attackers would bribe someone inside the castle to let them in.
Defending a castle Castles in important areas tended to be built from stone by the late 13th century. The main entrance would be protected by a portcullis and drawbridge. Castles were often surrounded by moats. Arrow slits in walls allowed archers to defend the castle. Machiolation holes in the walls allowed hot oil or sand to be poured onto the enemy.
In any war with Scotland, England would have many advantages 1.England was a rich country: it could afford more soldiers, and better weapons and armour. 2.The English had far more knights than the Scots. 3.English archers had longbows, which were much more powerful and had a longer range than Scottish bows. 4.The English troops had recent experience at war. Edward had been fighting the Welsh and the French, and so the English were what was called seasoned campaigners. 5.The Scots had not fought a battle since Largs in 1263. They were out of practice. 6.Many powerful Scottish nobles would not fight against England in case they lost the lands they had there.