Lessons from England’s 16th Century ‘Rough Wooing’ of Scotland

The time period “Tough Wooing,” attributed to Scottish nobleman George Gordon, describes a brutal sixteenth century spiritual and dynastic warfare between England and Scotland. For a lot of the 1540s English forces pillaged or occupied areas of Scotland, ravaging Edinburgh and different cities. Regardless of its victories, the Crown wasted cash and lives. King Henry VIII’s main objective—to make sure the wedding of the kid Mary, Queen of Scots, to Henry’s younger inheritor, Edward—in the end failed.

Born in April 1512, James V, Catholic king of the Scots, inherited his crown in infancy after his father was killed in 1513. In 1528 the teenager assumed full energy. Six years later the Protestant Reformation prompted his uncle Henry to separate the Church of England from Rome and seize Catholic properties. Their ensuing spiritual rift led to warfare in 1542. A Scottish victory in August at Haddon Rig was overturned in November at Solway Moss by a smaller English power that routed James’ poorly led military and captured some 1,200 males. An ailing James died three weeks later, leaving his 6-day-old daughter, Mary, as successor.

Decided to impose union between Scotland and England, Henry insisted on a wedding between Mary and Edward in a July 1543 treaty. Scottish loyalties cut up between English-backed Protestants and Catholics. Scottish regent James Hamilton signed the treaty however then switched to the Catholic place. The Scottish Parliament renounced Henry VIII’s treaty in December 1543, prompting a fierce response. An invading English military commanded by Edward Seymour attacked Edinburgh in Could 1544, burning the town on the king’s orders.

In February 1545 at Ancrum Moor the Scots routed an English power that had been raiding the borders. An uneasy truce adopted. Then Henry died, in January 1547, leaving 9-year-old Edward VI as king. The boy’s uncle Seymour, Duke of Somerset, served as regent.

After additionally failing to power a wedding alliance, Somerset resumed hostilities in September, arriving outdoors Edinburgh with some 18,000 troops plus a fleet armed with trendy artillery. The 22,000 Scots who met them September 10 at Pinkie Cleugh used outdated pike techniques. Revolutionary English use of “mixed operations”—integrating infantry, cavalry, and land-based and naval artillery —decimated about 6,000 Scots in what the Scots recall as “Black Saturday.”

The Scots continued to withstand, hiding 4-year-old Queen Mary on Inchmahome Island. Although Somerset garrisoned troops throughout jap Scotland, he couldn’t full his victory. Elevated prices and home turmoil weakened English resolve. In August 1548 Scots spirited their younger queen to France, and the English deserted their Haddington base in 1549. Negotiations in March 1550 ended hostilities, and the nations signed a proper peace a 12 months later.


Speak first—combat in the event you should. Henry VIII ought to have tried the carrot (guile and diplomacy) method to the Scots earlier than turning to the stick; the latter resulted in enormous losses of lives and treasure however not within the hoped-for dynastic union between Mary and Edward.

Higher tech often wins. Although the Scots outnumbered the English at Pinkie Cleugh, they shortly realized that well-equipped, versatile armies can constantly defeat bigger, much less progressive forces.

Battle is a nationwide effort. Whether or not England in Scotland in 1548 or america in Vietnam in 1968, unity on the house entrance is significant to profitable army expeditions overseas.


This text appeared within the July 2021 subject of Navy Historical past journal. For extra tales, subscribe right here and go to us on Fb:


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