“Braveheart” Defeated the English Because Their Commander Slept In Late

The Battle of Stirling Bridge — The English Commander Slept in Late

William Wallace Memorial

On a hill overlooking the plains of southern Scotland is a 220-foot castle tower museum dedicated to William Wallace, “Braveheart,” “the Guardian of Scotland.”  

In the 1200’s, the English had captured the strategic Stirling Castle. On an early morning in 1297, the English troops marched out of the castle to further invade Scotland.   

The English troops had to cross the River Forth on the wooden Stirling Bridge. The bridge was weak and narrow and only a few horsemen could cross at a time. 

The bridge became a bottleneck for the English soldiers, equipment, and horse cavalry. It took hours to move the large army across.  

Painting of Earl of Surrey Sleeping in Late

As they neared completion someone noticed that the Earl of Surrey, the commander, was absent. He had slept in. Thus, the officers ordered the troops to return back across the bridge to Sterling Castle until the Earl of Surrey prepared for battle. 

By this time, the English lost the element of surprise. William Wallace was alerted. The Scots prepared themselves for battle by hiding in the woods on the opposite of the river.  

The Scots Attacked and Stirling Bridge Collapsed

The English were on the move again. Wallace waited until half of the English army crossed the bridge. Then the outnumbered Scots attacked.

Drawing of the Collapse of the Stirling Bridge During Battle

The bridge collapsed, stranding half of the English army on the castle side of the river. The Scots defeated the stranded half of the English army. The other half retreated, and the Scots recaptured Stirling Castle.

Victory at Stirling Bridge led to the collapse of the English occupation. Wallace went on to attack northern England, burning over 700 villages.   

Defeating the Invincible English Heavy Horse Calvary

Scottish Long Poles vs. English Horse Cavalry

Until this battle, the English heavy cavalry with its armored horses and knights, were invincible. But Wallace (like the movie: “Braveheart”) had his men prepare long sharpened poles, which, when braced in the ground, knocked the English horses and knights to the ground. The Battle of Stirling Bridge was the first battle where a common army defeated a royal army.  The Battle of Stirling Bridge also destroyed the myth of English invincibility.

All this because the English commander slept in!

Waking Early is a Key to Success

The Old Testament describes the “good guys,” with the phrase, “and he arose early.” 

The Doctrine and Covenants affirms: “retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated” (D&C 88:124).

Ben Franklin advised, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

Roman Emperor Philosopher Marcus Aurelius, recommended, “At day’s first light have in readiness, against disinclination to leave your bed, the thought that, ‘I am rising for the work of man. Must I grumble at setting out to do what I was born for, and for the sake of which I have been brought into the world?  Is this my purpose of my creation, to lie here under the blankets and keep myself warm?” (Meditations, p 77)

 As we prepare to face the daily battles of life, we must “Awake and Arise!” 

Stirling Castle

 (See: William Wallace Memorial Docent, Personal Tour; “Battle of Stirling Bridge, 1297,” Scotland’s History, bbc.com; “Battle of Stirling Bridge,” Wikipedia.)


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