|Maurice, Father Abbot of Inchaffray, before the Battle of Bannockburn (1314).|
Maurice also brought to the battlefield the relic of the arm of Saint Fillan
The army was stationed in a field called the New Park, in some parts low and marshy, and others dry, and rising with a gentle declivity. The small stream of Bannockburn issuing from the northwest, pursues a winding course towards the southeast, along the right sides and the front of this encampment. The banks of this stream were so rocky and steep, as to form a kind of natural entrenchment against the attack of the English cavalry.
The king [Robert the Bruce] also ordered all these parts of the plain, where it was probable that the English cavalry would advance, either upon his centre or flank, to be filled with deep pits, covered over with turf, so that they might not be perceived. On the highest part of the field was erected the royal tent, where a stone, perforated to receive the royal standard, is still shewn to strangers by the common people in that neighbourhood. The rear division, consisting of the men of Argyle, Hebudse, and Carrick, was commanded by the king himself. Douglas and Walter Stewart commanded the centre. Randolph, now Earl of Moray, commanded the left wing, and Edward Bruce the right. In this posture, the intrepid and brave Scots waited the attack of that mighty army, with which the English monarch [Edward II] had invaded his dominions.
Nor did King Robert neglect to animate his men by the solemnities of religion.
The day previous to the battle, his men were employed in confession, according to the popish system, which then prevailed [indeed...], in order to prepare them to receive the sacrament the day following, and he himself continued all night in prayer. Early on the morning of that eventful day, which was to decide the fate of Scotland and England, the abbot of Inchaffray said mass on the top of a hill, and administered the sacrament to the king and his principal officers, which the other clergy did to the army.
Then the abbot advanced before the first ranks, with a crucifix in his hand, the whole following in procession; and when they had arrived at a proper place, they all kneeled down, to implore the protection of him who was represented on the cross, and to receive the benediction of the priest.
The enemy, who was near, beholding this kneeling, when they should have been preparing to fight, concluded that the vast superiority of their numbers, and their glittering weapons, had struck such a terror into the Scots, that they were begging for mercy. But they were soon assured of the contrary; for the Scots, rising from their devotion, presented undaunted countenances, and were impatient to engage in close combat.
[From an anonymous 1810 biography, "Robert I King of Scotland" - this post is dedicated to one of the best friends of this blog.]