Agnes Randolph of Dunbar (c. 1312—1369 CE) was a Scottish noblewoman who resisted English forces during a siege and was a daughter of Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray and Isabel Stewart. She was nicknamed “Black Agnes” for her olive skin and black hair. The Siege of Dunbar was an attack led by William Montagu, the 1st Earl of Salisbury. He was considered to be an excellent commander, and proficient in his duties. Because Scotland and England were in a state of war, Lady Agnes’s husband had left her alone at the castle, and the Earl of Salisbury thought to attack there first, as Dunbar was a major Scottish stronghold. As we can see from this blog, many medieval women fortified and defended their husbands’ and fathers’ castles against enemy forces, so Lady Agnes was not alone in her actions. What was remarkable was that she was able to withstand a five month siege from a praised English commander. She berated English troops, and mocked their ineffective use of catapults. When the Earl of Salisbury tried to use a battering ram on the gates, Lady Agnes had a boulder dropped on his men. This game of cat and mouse lasted for five months, from the 13th of January, 1338 to June 10th of the same year. Salisbury was forced to withdraw his forces, and give the win to Lady Agnes.
Legacy: The story of Lady Agnes is retold in Scottish folk ballads.