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Second War of Scottish Independence
|Second War of Scottish Independence
Anglo-Scottish War of Succession
|Part of the Wars of Scottish Independence and the Hundred Years' War|
|Commanders and leaders|
The Second War of Scottish Independence (1332–1357) was the second cluster of a series of military campaigns fought between the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England in the late 13th and the early 14th centuries.
The Second War arose from lingering issues from the First. The Treaty of Edinburgh–Northampton by which the First War had been settled had never been popularly accepted by the English, and it had created a new group of disenfranchised nobles, called the "disinherited", who felt that it unduly deprived them their rights to Scottish lands. One of the "disinherited" was Edward Balliol, the son of a former Scottish king. With the discreet backing of Edward III of England, Balliol demanded the return of his ancestral lands, and when they were not forthcoming, he invaded Scotland and he had himself crowned King of Scots, despite the young David II already holding the title. What followed became both a war of succession and a civil war, as some Scottish citizens rose to defend David II and others cast their lot with Edward Balliol, who was soon joined in his efforts by the English king. David II was forced to take shelter under the "Auld Alliance" with Philip VI of France until he reached his majority, while a series of guardians including future Scottish King Robert Stewart fought back-and-forth battles with Balliol and Edward III for territory in Scotland. Upon his majority, he returned, but was not long in Scotland before he was captured by the English, following which he served for the rest of the Second War as a bargaining point.
The politics of the situation were ever complex. The Scots faced discord in their own ranks, as various nobles jockeyed for position and power both before and after the majority of David II. Balliol's English allies grew distracted from his cause by their own growing preoccupation with France, with whom they were poised to enter the Hundred Years' War. The same conflict weakened the ability of the French to aid the Scots in their battles. Eventually, after several decades of repeated engagements, the Second War of Scottish Independence was settled with the signing of the Treaty of Berwick in 1357. Balliol had already relinquished his claim to the Scottish crown to Edward III, who dropped his direct claim to Scotland and released the then-captive David II in return for a pledge of 100,000 merks and the acknowledgment of English overlordship.
The First War of Scottish Independence between England and Scotland began in March 1296, when Edward I of England (r. 1272–1307) stormed and sacked the Scottish border town of Berwick as a prelude to his invasion of Scotland. The Scottish king, John I (r. 1292–1296), was captured by the English and forced to abdicate. Subsequently events went less well for the English and by 1323 Robert Bruce (r. 1306–1329) was securely on the Scottish throne and had carried out several major raids deep into England. In May a 13-year truce was agreed. Despite this, Scottish raids continued, as did English piracy against Scottish shipping.
After the newly crowned 14-year-old King Edward III was nearly captured by the Scots in the English disaster at Stanhope Park in 1327 his regents, Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer, were forced to the negotiating table. They agreed the Treaty of Northampton with Bruce in 1328, recognising him as king of an independent Scotland and ending the First Scottish War of Independence after 32 years. To further seal the peace, Robert's very young son and heir David married Joan, the likewise youthful sister of Edward.
The treaty was widely resented in England and commonly known as the turpis pax, "the shameful peace". Edward was forced into signing the treaty by his regents and was never reconciled to it. Some Scottish nobles, refusing to swear fealty to Bruce, were disinherited and left Scotland to join forces with Edward Balliol, the eldest son of King John. Robert Bruce died in 1329 and his heir was 5-year-old David II (r. 1329–1371). In 1330 Edward seized Mortimer and had him executed, confined his mother, and established his personal rule.
English invasion of Scotland, 1332
In 1331, under the leadership of Edward Balliol and Henry Beaumont, Earl of Buchan, the disinherited Scottish nobles gathered in Yorkshire and plotted an invasion of Scotland. Edward III was aware of the scheme and officially forbade it. The reality was different, as Edward was happy to cause trouble for his northern neighbour. He insisted Balliol not invade Scotland overland from England but ignored his forces sailing for Scotland from Yorkshire ports on 31 July 1332. The Scots were aware of the situation and were waiting for Balliol. David II's regent was an experienced old soldier, Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray. He had prepared for Balliol and Beaumont, but died ten days before they sailed.
Five days after landing in Fife, against fierce Scottish opposition, Balliol's predominately English force of some 2,000 men met the Scottish army of 15,000–40,000 men The invaders crossed the river at night via an unguarded ford and took up a strong defensive position. In the morning the Scots raced to attack the English, disorganising their own formations. Unable to break the line of English men-at-arms, the Scots became trapped in a valley with fresh forces arriving from the rear pressing them forward and giving them no room to manoeuvre, or even to use their weapons. English longbowmen fired into both Scottish flanks. Many Scots died of suffocation or were trampled underfoot. Eventually they broke and the English men-at-arms mounted and pursued the fugitives until nightfall. Thousands of Scots died, including much of the nobility of the realm, and Perth fell. This marked the start of the Second War of Scottish Independence. Balliol was crowned king of Scotland at Scone – the traditional place of coronation for Scottish monarchs – on 24 September 1332. Almost immediately, Balliol granted Edward Scottish estates to a value of £2,000 (£1,700,000 in 2021 terms[note 1]), which included "the town, castle and county of Berwick". Balliol's support within Scotland was limited and he was subject to constant military challenge; for example on 7 October David's supporters recaptured Perth and destroyed its walls. On 16 December, less than three months after his coronation, Balliol was ambushed by supporters of David II at the Battle of Annan. Balliol fled to England half-dressed and riding bareback. He appealed to Edward for assistance. Edward dropped all pretence of neutrality, recognised Balliol as king of Scotland and made ready for war.
English invasion of Scotland, 1333
Although the idea of returning to war against Scotland did not have universal appeal, Edward III gave Balliol his backing. The Scots launched minor raids into Cumberland, which achieved little. Edward exploited the Cumberland raids to claim that his invasion was a response to them. Edward's chosen target was Berwick: a Scottish town on the Anglo-Scottish border, astride the main invasion and trade route in either direction. According to a contemporary chronicle, Berwick was "so populous and of such trade that it might justly be called another Alexandria, whose riches were the sea and the waters its walls". It was the most successful trading town in Scotland, and the duty on wool which passed through it was the Scottish Crown's largest single source of income. Edward hoped the possibility of losing it would draw the Scots into a set-piece battle, which he anticipated winning. During centuries of war between the two nations battles had been rare, as the Scots preferred guerrilla tactics and border raiding into England. Berwick was one of the few targets which might bring the Scots to battle as, in the words of the historian Clifford Rogers, "abandoning it was almost unthinkable".
Berwick was well-defended, well-garrisoned, and well-stocked with provisions and materiel. But the English pressed the siege hard and by the end of June attacks by land and sea had brought Berwick to a state of ruin and the garrison close to exhaustion.[note 2] A truce was agreed on 15 July, whereby the Scots promised to surrender if not relieved by sunset on 19 July. By this time the Scottish army under Sir Archibald Douglas had crossed the border and was devastating north-east England. Edward, however, ignored this. Douglas felt his only option was to engage the English in battle.
Douglas ordered an attack. To engage the English, the Scots had to advance downhill, cross a large area of marshy ground and then climb the northern slope of Halidon Hill. The Lanercost Chronicle reports:
. . . the Scots who marched in the front were so wounded in the face and blinded by the multitude of English arrows that they could not help themselves, and soon began to turn their faces away from the blows of the arrows and fall.
The Scots suffered many casualties and the lower reaches of the hill were littered with dead and wounded. The survivors continued upwards, through the arrows "as thick as motes in a sun beam", according to an unnamed contemporary quoted by Nicholson, and on to the waiting spears.The Scottish army broke, the camp followers made off with the horses and the fugitives were pursued by the mounted English knights. The Scottish casualties numbered in thousands, including Douglas and five earls dead on the field. Scots who surrendered were killed on Edward's orders and some drowned as they fled into the sea. English casualties were reported as fourteen; some chronicles give a lower figure of seven. About a hundred Scots who had been taken prisoner were beheaded the next morning, 20 July. This was the date that Berwick's truce expired, and it surrendered.
Scottish resurgence, 1334
On 19 June 1334, Balliol did homage to Edward for Scotland, after formally ceding to England the eight counties of south-east Scotland. Balliol ruled a truncated Scottish state from Perth, from where he attempted to put down the remaining resistance. The invaders' common goal was seemingly attained, with David's partisans only holding five fortifications in all Scotland. Balliol's allies fell out among themselves, which in turn encouraged David's partisans. Balliol's allies, divided, proved easier targets and were captured, forced out of Scotland or switched sides. Balliol retreated to Berwick, where, he convinced Edward to spend the winter of 1334–1335 in Roxburgh, although more of his erstwhile supporters defected to the Bruce faction. And though Balliol and the English king both led excursions into the surrounding western lowlands, destroying the property of friend and foe alike, they found no evidence of Scottish troops.
Relations between France and England were already tense, with the English in control of the fief of Gascony and both sides struggling to impose their own interpretations of what precisely their relationship was. It had only been a few years, since 1331, that Philip VI and Edward III had begun to settle, after Edward had paid proper homage to Philip. France and Scotland had been joined in an "Auld Alliance" since Edward Balliol's father John had signed a treaty with Philip IV of France against Edward I of England in 1295, pledging mutual defence.
David II's new co-regents sent a plea for help to Philip VI, who in November 1334 advised Edward III that he was sending an ambassador to England to discuss the matter. Accordingly, when Edward III returned from Roxburgh in February 1335, it was to find the Bishop of Avranches waiting, demanding to know why Edward III was acting against David II and David's queen, Edward's own sister Joan. Edward III deferred his answer, but in the meantime agreed to allow the ambassadors to try to negotiate peace between England and Scotland. As serious as the French ambassadors may have been at their task, they were unable to make headway with the co-regents of David II, who were at this time divided by their own disagreements about governance. What they did do, unwitting as they may have been, was allow time for the English to restore their finances.
English invasion of Scotland, 1335–1336
In March 1335, Edward III began seriously mustering his forces, timing his invasion to the expiration of the French-engineered temporary truce. Aware of his plans, Scottish loyalists were also preparing for war, setting aside their personal differences and evacuating the lowlands in preparation for invasion. Edward III summoned an army of 13,000 men, the largest assemblage he had ever managed for an invasion of Scotland, and set off in July with a plan for a three-front invasion. With a naval force waiting near the Clyde, Edward III would lead part of this troop north from Carlisle while Balliol would take the rest west from Berwick. They encountered little resistance. After the armies met up at Glasgow, Edward III settled in the area of Perth.
In France, lacking an answer to his question or satisfactory settlement of his truce, Philip VI openly assembled an army of 6,000 soldiers to send to support the Scottish troops, to whom he had also been sending supplies since February of that year. Notice was sent to Edward III, informing him that if he did not submit the dispute to the arbitration of France and the Pope, the French soldiers would be deployed. Edward III flatly refused the demand.
Meanwhile, the situation among the Scottish loyalists had worsened, but only temporarily. England was regaining ground, and both Strathbogie and Robert Stewart surrendered to Edward III, Strathbogie so enthusiastically that he was later known for his tyranny against the loyalists. The remaining loyalists gathered at Dumbarton Castle, with the sole remaining regent, Sir Andrew Murray. To discuss terms, Murray and Edward III established a truce, which ultimately lasted from mid-October through Christmas, but the truce did not govern Balliol or Balliol's followers. When Strathbogie lay siege against Murray's wife at Kildrummy Castle, Murray went after him, and with the assistance of the recently ransomed William Douglas, Lord of Liddesdale, killed Strathbogie and routed Strathbogie's troops at the Battle of Culblean. It was the first of a number of victories against Balliol and his followers that gradually pushed Balliol to shelter in the shadow of the English king.
Edward III seems at this point to have been primarily interested in maintaining the eight counties which Balliol had given him, which he was restoring to military strength. In spite of his flat refusal to meet Philip VI's demands, he was concerned about the potential actions of the French, particularly against his inherited lands in that country. Through the winter, the treaty remained under discussion, promoting the idea that the middle-aged Edward Balliol might retain the throne and David II – who would relocate to England – be named his heir. Philip VI, David II's protector and adviser, had been persuaded by Pope Benedict XII to postpone his own military action, but in March 1336 he persuaded David II to reject the treaty, which evidently his regent had been prepared to accept. There were just weeks to go in the treaty, following which Edward III intended to press on with the war.
In May 1336, Edward III sent Henry of Lancaster to enter Scotland, where the Scottish leaders were involved in sieges at Lochindorb and Cupar. Lancaster paused for reinforcements at Perth, sending Sir Thomas Rosslyn ahead to fortify the ruined castle of Dunnottar. Edward III was receiving grave and probably inflated intelligence of the amassing forces of Philip VI, which were intending to land in Scotland and invade England from the north, and he determined to thwart the plan by eliminating the most likely port for their arrival: Aberdeen.
In June, Edward III arrived in Scotland via Newcastle with a force of 400 men, picking up an additional 400 from Lancaster's troops with which to march on Lochindorb, ending that siege, and thence to the Moray Firth. He destroyed everything he encountered from there through Aberdeen, which he burned to the ground. Later that same month, Carrick Clydesdale were likewise devastated by an attack of several thousand men under the command of John of Eltham, Earl of Cornwall.
France joins the fight
Meanwhile, an English embassy empowered by the Great Council of June 1336 had been attempting to negotiate with Philip VI and David II. In August, Philip VI gave the English ambassadors his final answer, that he intended to invade England and Scotland immediately with the fleet and army he had gathered. The ambassadors sent urgent word to the Council of England, but two days before the messenger's arrival, on 22 August, four French privateers attacked the English town of Orford. Soon after the messenger arrived and was dispatched to call Edward back to England, French privateers captured several royal ships and loaded merchantmen anchored at the Isle of Wight.
It was the middle of September before Edward III received that word and returned to England, abandoning his immediate plans to attack Douglas of Liddesdale in light of the greater threat. Too late to strike at the French ships, Edward III aggressively raised funds and returned to Scotland, beginning a series of wins and losses of castles before settling to winter at the fortress in Clyde. Douglas of Liddesdale kept up a campaign of harassment against the king, while Murray destroyed Dunnottar, Kinneff and Lauriston in order to prevent Edward III using them to his own advantage. Famine and disease exacted harsh tolls throughout Scotland. In England, though French naval attacks were dying down, French political and legal pressures were increasing. Edward III again returned to England in December 1336 and began to plan a force to enter Gascony in the spring.
Scottish resurgence, 1336–1346
The Scottish loyalists pressed the advantage of Edward III's distraction. Murray and Douglas of Liddesdale made incursions into the English strongholds of Perth and Fife and met no real resistance. Shortly thereafter, they negotiated terms with the troops garrisoned at Bothwell Castle, immediately afterward destroying the English fortifications. This was only the start. By the end of March, the Scottish troops had reclaimed most of Scotland north of the Forth and done serious damage to the lands of Edward Balliol.
Edward III continued to focus on France, though he made clear his intentions of addressing Scotland when time permitted. But at the same time that Edward III was considering how best to deal with the French, the French were continuing to pour supplies into Scotland, and as the year progressed the Scottish forces began to encroach even into northern England, laying waste to Cumberland. Such actions forced Edward III to take the Scottish threat seriously, and in October he sent William Montagu, 1st Earl of Salisbury, to Scotland to see what he could do to contain the situation.
Salisbury proved able to do little. He took his forces to Dunbar, launching an attack in January 1338 against its Countess, "Black Agnes" Randolph, the daughter of the former regent Thomas Randolph and the wife of one Patrick de Dunbar, 9th Earl of March. With the aid of Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie, she withstood, and Salisbury withdrew on Edward III's command after six months of effort in June. Salisbury would, however, feature in the Second War again in 1341 when, as a prisoner of the French, his return to the English would be a bargaining point for the release of the Scottish John Randolph.
While not to say that Scottish victory was imminently on the horizon, the early winter and spring of 1338 were a turning point for the Scottish campaign. Murray in particular was ruthless, and while suffering his own defeats left such destruction in his wake that thousands of Scottish civilians were left without food to sustain themselves, much less to fuel Balliol's cause. However, it was his dying blow. Early in the year, Murray died of an illness, but not before he had, in the words of Michael Brown, "ended the possibility of Edward III establishing stable lordship over southern Scotland."
Meanwhile, William Douglas had settled in the area of Liddesdale, from which position he harassed the allies of the English. In the spring of 1339, Stewart – sole Guardian after Murray's death – brought a large force against the shrinking region under Balliol's control around Perth and Cupar. English reinforcements were held back by Scottish and French ships, and Stewart won the day in August, when his enemies surrendered.
In 1341, David II reached the age of 18. He returned to Scotland on 2 June of that year with his wife, Edward III's sister, Joan. While the battles with the English had cooled in recent years, infighting amongst the Scottish loyalists had once again become an issue, and David II was eager to establish his own authority and surround himself with his own people. These urges caused David II to make some questionable decisions that probably had the opposite effect of what he had intended. David knew that Douglas had an interest in Liddesdale, but he bestowed it instead on Stewart in 1342. Stewart – more interested in Atholl, which had already been bestowed on Douglas – was willing to swap, an act which not only increased the powers of Douglas and Stewart but also suggested little respect for David II's authority. Perhaps in response, David II rewarded Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie for retaking Roxburgh Castle from the English by appointing him sheriff. This act enraged Douglas, who had tried to retake Roxburgh himself several times and who had by some reports already been given the position. He imprisoned Ramsay and took brutal revenge, starving him to death in Hermitage Castle. Although himself dismayed by the death of Ramsay, Stewart intervened between Douglas of Liddesdale and the king, and Douglas was pardoned. Fighting with the English also continued and David II conducted several raids into England.
Scottish invasion of England, 1346
The Auld Alliance between France and Scotland had been renewed in 1326 and was intended to deter England from attacking either country by the threat that the other would invade English territory. In July 1346 Edward III landed in Normandy with an army of 15,000. Philip pleaded with David to invade England: "I beg you, I implore you ... Do for me what I would willingly do for you in such a crisis and do it as quickly ... as you are able." As the English had also committed troops to Gascony, Brittany and Flanders, Philip described northern England as "a defenceless void". David II felt certain that few English troops would be left to defend the rich northern English cities, but when the Scots probed into northern England they were sharply rebuffed by the local defenders. David agreed a truce, to last until 29 September, in order to fully mobilise the Scottish army.
On 7 October the Scots invaded England with approximately 12,000 men. Many had modern weapons and armour supplied by France. A small number of French knights marched alongside the Scots. It was described by both Scottish and English chroniclers of the time, and by modern historians, as the strongest and best equipped Scottish expedition for many years. The invasion had been expected by the English for some time and when raising his army to invade France Edward had exempted the counties north of the River Humber. Once the Scots invaded, an army was quickly mobilised, commanded by William de la Zouche, the Archbishop of York, who was Lord Warden of the Marches, and Lord Ralph Neville, numbering about 6,000–7,000 men. The Scots were surprised by the appearance of the English and took up a position close to Durham.
A stalemate lasted until the afternoon, when the English sent longbowmen forward to harass the Scottish lines. The Earl of Menteith attempted to clear away the English archers with a cavalry charge, but this failed and he was taken prisoner. The archers then succeeded in provoking the main Scottish force into attacking. By the time the first of the three Scottish divisions came to hand-to-hand combat it had been disorganised by the broken terrain and the fire of the English archers and was easily dealt with. Seeing their first attack repulsed, and also being harassed by the English archers, the third and largest Scottish division, on the Scottish left under the Earl of March and Robert Stewart,[note 4] broke and fled. The English stood off from the remaining Scots under David II and poured in arrows. The English men-at-arms then attacked and after fighting described as "ferocious", the Scots attempted unsuccessfully to retreat and were routed. David, badly wounded, was captured after he fled the field, while the rest of the Scottish army was pursued by the English long into the night. More than 50 Scottish barons were killed or captured; Scotland lost almost all its military leadership.
Captivity of David II
David II would remain captive to the English until 1357, during much of which time he resided in the Tower of London. Among the combatants at Neville's Cross, Edward Balliol set about recruiting forces to join him on an excursion back into Scotland, while Henry Percy and John Neville swiftly pressed the English advantage in the borders. But though Balliol's subsequent campaign did restore some of the Southern communities to Edward III, on the whole he made little headway. Edward III was far more interested in the situation in France, and the Scottish locals were far less willing to submit to Balliol's demands.
In the absence of the king, the Scottish forces rallied again behind Robert Stewart, supported by de Dunbar and Uilleam Ross, among others. Stewart could be depended upon to defend Scotland from Edward III and Edward Balliol, but otherwise was more interested in securing his own power than looking after that of his king. As Stewart looked after himself, voids left by Neville's Cross were being filled as well in other parts of Scotland. Notably, to fill the gap left by William Douglas, Lord of Liddesdale, came his namesake and ward, the son of Sir Archibald Douglas, to assume the lordship of Douglas, from which position he became a powerful leader for the Scottish in the war.
With David II in his custody, Edward III had a good opportunity to try to reach terms, though Edward Balliol's interests were a sticking point. He had evidently prepared to overlook them by the time he made his first offer, in 1348, which seems to have been that David II would hold Scotland as a fief for England, naming Edward III or one of his sons as his successor, should he die without children. This had altered somewhat by 1350 when Edward III sent Douglas of Liddesdale, also in custody in the Tower of London, to see if the Scots would be willing to take different terms: to ransom David II for a fee of £40,000, the restoration of the disinherited lords, and the naming of Edward III's young son John of Gaunt as David's successor, should he die without children. David himself is credited with removing Edward III's name from the line of succession in Scotland, and the Scots seem to have been willing to entertain the idea as they sent Douglas of Liddesdale back for further negotiation and David II was himself permitted to briefly return to Scotland in early 1352 to try to seal the deal. Stewart would obviously be disinclined to support terms that removed him from succession, but he seems ultimately not to have been alone. The Parliament convened in March 1352 did not find the prospect of submitting to the English a fair trade for the freedom of their king. David II was sent back.
Still preoccupied with the war in France, Edward III tried again in 1354 with a simple demand of ransom, without settlement of the claim of England to superiority, but the Scots rejected this as well, perhaps because Robert Stewart was contemplating instead a stronger alliance with France.
English invasion of Scotland, 1356
Tensions on the Anglo-Scottish border led to a military build up by both sides in 1355. In September a nine-month truce was agreed, and most of the English forces left for northern France to take part in a campaign of the concurrent Hundred Years' War. A few days after agreeing the truce, the Scots, encouraged and subsidised by the French, broke it, invading and devastating Northumberland. In late December the Scots escaladed and captured the important English-held border town of Berwick-on-Tweed and laid siege to its castle. The English army redeployed from France to Newcastle in northern England.
The English advanced to Berwick, retaking the town, and moved to Roxburgh in southern Scotland by mid-January 1356. On 20 January Balliol surrendered his nominal position as king of Scotland in favour of Edward, his overlord, in exchange for a generous pension. From there they advanced on Edinburgh, leaving a trail of devastation 50–60 miles (80–100 km) wide behind them. The Scots practised a scorched earth policy, refusing battle and removing or destroying all food in their own territory. The English reached and burnt Edinburgh and were resupplied by sea at Haddington. Edward intended to march on Perth, perhaps to be crowned King of Scotland at nearby Scone – the traditional place of coronation for Scottish monarchs. But contrary winds prevented the movement of the fleet he would need to supply his army. While waiting for a better wind, the English thoroughly despoiled Lothian. A winter storm drove the English fleet away and scattered it, and the English were forced to withdraw. They did so via Melrose, still widely devastating Scottish territory, but this time harassed by Scottish forces. The English army was disbanded in Carlisle in late February, and the Scots went on to take two English-held castles. A truce was re-established in April.
Treaty of Berwick, 1357
The episode demonstrated to both Scotland and England the fruitlessness of their struggles. Thereafter, with France's fortunes falling and England's rising, the terms came to seem more favourable to the Scots, and in 1357 they were accepted after all, formalized in the Treaty of Berwick, under the terms of which Scotland would pay England 100,000 merks over a ten-year period.
With the signing of the Treaty of Berwick, the Second War of Scottish Independence was effectively over. Even before the signing of the treaty, in January 1356, Edward Balliol – weary and ill – had relinquished his claim in the kingdom of Scotland to Edward III in exchange for an annuity of £2000. He retired to live the rest of his life in the area of Yorkshire. David II returned to Scotland, to try again to deal with the rivalries of his lords as well as now among his ladies, as his wife Joan evidently objected to the English mistress he had taken during his 11 years in captivity. The treaty did impose a financial hardship on Scotland, but David II stopped paying after only 20,000 merks of the debt had been met, following which renegotiation led ultimately to a reduction in the debt and a 14-year truce.
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