Bannockburn June 1314

Bruce’s address to his captains before The Battle of

Original written by John Barbour c. 1375
And certis me think well that ye
Forout abasing aucht to be
Worthy and of gret vasselagis
For we haff thre gret avantagis
The fyrst is that we haf the rycht
And for the rycht ay God will fycht.
The tother is that thai cummyn ar
For lyppynyng off thar gret powar
To sek us in our awne land,
And has brocht her rycht till our hand
Ryches into sa gret quantit´e
That the pourest of you sall be
Bath rych and mychty tharwithall
Giff that we wyne, as weill may fall.
The thrid is that we for our lyvis
And for our childer and for our wyyis
And for our fredome and for our land
Ar strenyeit in bataill for to stand,
And thai for thar mycht anerly
And for thai let of us heychtly
And for thai wad distroy us all
Mais thaim to fycht, bot yeit may fall
That thai sall rew thar barganyng.
And certis I warne you off a thing
That happyn thaim, as God forbed,
Till fynd fantis intill our deid
That thai wyn us opynly
Thai sall off us haf na mercy,
And sen we knaw thar felone will
Me think it suld accord to skill
To set stoutnes agayne felony
And mak sa-gat a juperty.
Quharfor I you requer and pray
That with all your mycht that ye may
That ye pres you at the begynnyng
But cowardys or abaysing
To mete thaim at sall fyrst assemble
Sa stoutly that the henmaist trymble
And menys of your gret manheid
Your worschip and your douchti deid
And off the joy that we abid
Giff that us fall, as well may tid,
Hap to vencus this gret bataill.
In your handys without faile
Ye ber honour price and riches
Fredome welsh and blythnes
Giff you contene you manlely,
And the contrar all halily
Sall fall giff ye lat cowardys
And wykytnes your hertis suppris.
Ye mycht have lyvyt into threldome,
Bot for ye yarnyt till have fredome
Ye ar assemblyt her with me,
Tharfor is nedfull that ye be
Worthy and wycht but abaysing …
… Giff ye will wyrk apon this wis
Ye sall haff victour sekyrly.

Modern English version
I think indeed that you
Ought to be without timidity,
Worthy, and of great prowess;
For in three ways we have the edge:
The first is, that right is on our side
And God will always fight for the right.
The second is, they have come here
Trusting in their great power
To seek us in our own land;
And have brought here, right to our hands
Riches in such great plenty
That the poorest of you shall be
Both rich and powertul as well,
If we win, as well may happen.
The third is that for our lives
And for our children and our wives
And for our freedom and for our land
We are bound to stand in battle.
And they for their power only,
And because they think scornfully of us
And because they would destroy us all,
Makes them fight; but it may yet happen
That they will rue confronting us.
And indeed, I warn you of one thing
That if it happens that they (God forbid)
Find us fainthearted in our acts
So that they beat us openly
They will have no mercy on us.
And since we know their wicked will
I think it would suit our skill
To set bravery against cruelty
And make our fighting stand in that way.
Therefore I ask and beseech you
That with all the strength that you can muster
At the beginning you get ready
Without cowardice or holding back
To meet those that reach you first
So stoutly that the hindmost tremble.
And think of your great valour
Your courage, and your doughty deeds
And of the joy that waits for us
If it befalls, as well may be,
That we happen to defeat this great host.
In your hands, without fail,
You bear honour, reputation and riches
Freedom, wealth and happiness,
If you carry yourselves like men;
And exactly the opposite
Will befall if you let cowardice
And wickedness take over your hearts.
You could have lived in serfdom,
But, because you yearned to have freedom
You are gathered here with me;
So it is needful that you be
Strong and bold and without fear …
… If you will behave in this way
You win surely have victory.