On this day in history : 23rd June 1314 – The death of English knight Sir Henry de Bohun – who was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn by Robert the Bruce….

The earliest known depiction of the Battle of Bannockburn, from a 1440s manuscript – Public domain

Bohun was the grandson of the Earl of Hereford – he was young and keen to make a name for himself…. There was probably no better way to do so than on the battlefield….

On the 23rd of June 1314 he proudly rode at the front of King Edward II’s army as it approached the Scottish troops led by Robert the Bruce…. The Scottish King had been crowned in 1306, after killing his rival for the throne, John Comyn…. For the next 8 years Bruce was to simultaneously fight a bloody civil war against his own opponents and a guerrilla war against the occupying English forces….

The killing of Comyn in Greyfriars Church, Dumfries – as imagined by 19th century illustrator Felix Phillippoteaux – Public domain

In 1314 Bruce’s brother, Edward, made a deal with Philip Mowbray, keeper of Stirling Castle…. This was to lead to direct confrontation with the army of King Edward II….

Bruce knew his army was no match for the English when it came to fighting on open land – they would have a far better chance if they planned an ambush…. As Edward II’s troops marched towards them Bruce’s spear men, who had been waiting in the woods, emerged and lined up to confront them…. Mounted on a horse among them was Robert the Bruce – and all he was holding was an axe….

Bohun saw his chance of fame and glory…. He lowered his lance and charged at Bruce – who saw him coming and took up the challenge by charging in return at Bohun…. At the last second Bruce swerved to the side and brought his axe crashing down on Bohun’s helmet – splitting it in two – along with his head….

Robert the Bruce killing de Bohun in the Battle of Bannockburn – Public domain

Spurred on by their King’s victory over Bohun, Bruce’s men surged forwards – killing Bohun’s squire, who was standing over his master’s body…. Confusion followed and the English fled….

Bruce was not entirely convinced that they should risk another day’s fighting – even after their victory…. However, word was received that morale was low in the English camp and so Bruce decided to chance it…. The next day he led his men to a triumphant victory over the English….

Finally in 1328 the English recognised Bruce as the King of the Scots….

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