Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bruce and Sir Henry de Bohun

This is a favorite story from the Battle of Bannockburn and has been immortalized in a lot of paintings of Robert the Bruce. This was a fight that happened just before the battle started on the first day, when Robert was getting his men ready. Sir Henry de Bohun (rhymes with bafoon) was an English knight who decided to try his hand at fighting the King of Scots. To dire consequences.

Robert the Bruce, King of Scots rode his small sturdy garron pony in front of his men, seeing that they were all in good order. He was not really expecting to fight that day, but keeping up appearances would show the English that the Scots were not just barbarians. That they could turn out in style.

It was not long before the English army began to come over the hill, banners flying gayly in the air. Robert looked at them and spoke to his general, Sir James Douglas.

"What think you of the day, Jamie?" he asked him.

"I think the English have only pomp on their side while we have the want of freedom," the young man replied and Bruce smiled at him.

"Let us pray it is enough then." He started again down the line of his men, talking to them, reassuring them of the fight to come.

On the English side, Sir Henry de Bohun watched the Scottish king ride in front of his men. His battle horse shifted eagerly under him, knowing action was close, but restless for it. de Bohun looked again at King Robert. He was not even paying attention. He could ride over to his quickly and be done with him before anyone cold stop him! He only seemed to be armed with a battle axe as well while Bohun had a lance. He smiled to himself. Aye, it would be easy. Before he could think against it, he urged his horse forward, charging toward the man who wore the gold circlet over his helmet.

Bruce heard him coming and swung his pony around, grasping his battle axe in the same movement. He did not hesitate to charge the oncoming horseman and spurred the garron into action. Douglas and his other commanders stared in horror as they saw him charge, but they could not get out to help him before he was already engaged.

De Bohun had lowered his lance at the king as soon as Bruce had begun to charge him and he smugly urged his horse forward even faster, eager to prove his valor and win single combat against the rebel king of Scots. But before he knew what was happening, Robert the Bruce jerked his garron to the other side of Bohun's horse and, standing in his stirrups, he swung his battle axe down with huge force onto the English knight's head. The blow was so powerful, that it split Bohun to the breastbone and shattered the axe haft in Bruce's hand.

Without another thought, Bruce swung his pony around and headed back to his lines, holding the shattered haft in his hand and looking at it grimly. As he got back, Douglas met him with a speachless, wide-eyed look. He finally gained his voice and choked out:

"What were you thinking? You could have been killed! That was a foolish thing to do, Robert!"

Bruce nodded. "I know. I broke my good axe."


And that was what he was actually reported to have said :) Good old Scottish humor!

So, Friday is Bannockburn and I promised you all a special treat! (I hope you'll think it is anyway ;-) so I'll be back then.

Slainte, Hazel


  1. Wow! You just have to love those larger than life heroes. And those fat, little maneuverable ponies.

  2. Yah, where have we heard that before ;);) And this really is a true story!

  3. with heroes like that of course the scots are a proud people.

  4. Fier comme Ecossais, as the French would say .