Edward of England's invasion of Scotland in 1296 left the country leaderless.
King John Baliol of Scotland was imprisoned and the nobility were split
by rival factions. In May 1297 William Wallace killed the English Sheriff
of Lanark in retaliation for the death of his wife, Marion, and thereafter
made his name by leading a series of lightning raids against key English
Joining forces with Sir Andrew Moray he faced an English army at Stirling
Bridge on September 11th, 1297. A sudden Scots charge trapped and routed
the English force.
Wallace followed this victory with an invasion of northern England. Soon
after their victory at Stirling Bridge, Moray and Wallace were acting
as Generals of the army and Guardians of the Kingdom of Scotland.
Moray died of his wounds later in 1297 and by the spring of 1298 the
Community of the Realm recognised Wallace as sole Guardian.
At a second major battle, at Falkirk, the Scots army was defeated and
Wallace resigned the Guardianship, but continued to serve as field commander
and as a diplomat in France and Italy.
When the Scots resistance collapsed in 1304 he fought on until his betrayal,
capture, and trial and execution in London in 1305.
Robert the Bruce continued the struggle against the English and at Bannockburn
in 1314 achieved victory, paving the way for Scotland's return to independence.