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Battles of the Anglo-Scottish Wars

Battles of the Anglo-Scottish Wars

Battles of the Anglo-Scottish Wars

This clickable map shows the battles of the many Anglo-Scottish Wars of the Middle Ages, from the post Conquest battle of Alnwick of 1093 to the battle of Flodden of 1513. Scottish victories are in blue, English (or allied) victories in red.

The Many Historical Facts The Movie ‘Braveheart’ Got Wrong… And One It Got Right

Mel Gibson’s film Braveheart is both one of the most celebrated and one of the most reviled pieces of historical filmmaking ever. A heart-stirring and carefully crafted piece of story-telling, it won five Oscars. Yet the wild liberties it took with history have led it to be repeatedly panned by historians and critics.

This is especially in true in Scotland, where it has become almost a byword for historical inaccuracy. In spite of this, it is still widely enjoyed by Scots, and it is appreciated for placing the story of a Scottish hero, William Wallace, firmly in the cultural mainstream.

So what does Braveheart get wrong about the Anglo-Scottish wars in which William Wallace fought, and what, if anything, does it get right?

List of battles between Scotland and England

The Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland fought dozens of battles with each other. They fought typically over land, particularly Berwick-Upon-Tweed, and the Anglo-Scottish border frequently changed as a result. Prior to the establishment of the two kingdoms, in the 10th and 9th centuries, their predecessors, the Northumbrians and the Picts or Dal Riatans, also fought a number of battles. Major conflicts between the two parties include the Wars of Scottish Independence (1296–1357), and the Rough Wooing (1544–1551), as well as numerous smaller campaigns and individual confrontations. In 1603, England and Scotland were joined in a "personal union" when King James VI of Scotland succeeded to the throne of England as King James I. War between the two states largely ceased, although the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in the 17th century, and the Jacobite Risings of the 18th century, are sometimes characterised as Anglo-Scottish conflicts, despite really being British civil wars.

Anglo-Scottish Wars

The Anglo-Scottish Wars comprise the various battles which continued to be fought between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland from the time of the Wars of Independence in the early 14th century through to the latter years of the 16th century.

Although the Wars of Independence, in which Scotland twice resisted attempted conquest by Plantagenet kings of England, formally ended in the treaties of 1328 and 1357 respectively, relations between the two countries remained uneasy. Incursions by English kings into Scotland continued under Richard II and Henry IV and informal cross-border conflict remained endemic. Formal flashpoints on the border included places remaining under English occupation, such as Roxburgh Castle or the port of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Roxburgh was recaptured by the Scots in 1460 under Mary of Guelders after the death of James II in the same campaign. Similarly, possession of Berwick changed hands a number of times, as one country attempted to take advantage of weakness or instability in the other, culminating in final capture for the English of the Scottish port by Richard, Duke of Gloucester in 1482.

England's preoccupation with civil war during the Wars of the Roses may have been a component in the period of relative recovery for her northern neighbour during the course of the 15th century, and by the first decade of the 16th century James IV of Scotland and Henry VII of England were making overtures for lasting peace. This broke down after the accession of the more overtly bellicose Henry VIII to the English throne and James IV's catastrophically misjudged incursion into Northumbria in 1513 ending in the Battle of Flodden. Three decades later, after the death of James V in 1542, the so-called 'rough wooing' at the hands of invading English armies under the Earl of Hertford brought manifest depredations to Scotland. The last pitched battle between Scotland and England as independent states was the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in September 1547. Periods of fighting and conflict nevertheless continued.

France also played a key role throughout the period of the Anglo-Scottish Wars. Scots and English soldiers on French soil during the Hundred Years War (1337–1453) generally fought on opposing sides, with the Scots standing for the French against the English under the Auld Alliance. France in later periods, in turn, often intervened on Scottish soil for the Scots. This French involvement had increasingly complex political consequences for all sides by the later 16th century.

The Anglo-Scottish Wars can formally be said to have ended with the Union of the Crowns in 1603, wherein England and Scotland entered a personal union under James VI and I, who inherited both crowns. Bloody conflict between the two states nevertheless continued to arise in different and more complex guise throughout the course of the 17th century.

The History of the Border Reivers

If your surname is Armstrong, Maxwell, Johnston, Graham, Bell, Scott, Nixon, Kerr, Crozier or Robson then your family history, just like the astronaut Neil Armstrong’s, may very well be intertwined with the Border Reivers. And, if you do share one of these surnames, you may be advised not to read on…

The story of the Reivers dates from the 14th century and continued through into the late 17th century. It concerns the border between the two sovereign countries of England and Scotland. In those days, this Border displayed all of the characteristics of a frontier, lacking law and order. Cattle rustling, feuding, murder, arson and pillaging were all common occurrences.

It was a time when people owed their tribal or clan loyalty to their blood relatives or families. And it was common for these families to straddle the Border.

The Reivers were the product of the constant English-Scottish wars that would often reduce the Border area to a wasteland. The continuing threat of renewed conflict offered little incentive to arable farming. Why bother planting crops if they may be burned before they could be harvested?

The reiving (raiding or plundering) of livestock was however a totally different matter, and so it became the principal business of the Border families.

The Reiver came from every social class from labourer to peer of the realm. He was a skilled horseman and fine guerrilla soldier, practised in the fine arts of arson, kidnapping and extortion. There was no social stigma attached to reiving, it was simply an accepted way of life.

Above: Border Reivers at Gilnockie Tower, Dumfries and Galloway

It is said that the wife of one famous Border Reiver demonstrated that her larder was empty by serving her husband his spurs on a plate instead of his dinner. The message was clear either mount up and go reiving, or go hungry.

Reiving was simply a way of earning a living. Scottish Reivers were just as likely to raid other Scots as to raid across the English Border. Scots and English would even join forces to raid on either side of the Border. The victims of reiving could be anyone from outside the immediate family.

Raids were planned like military operations and could involve gangs of armed men and last for days. More modest raids might involve no more than a short moonlit ride, a quick plunder from a small farm followed by a dash home for breakfast.

The Reiver rode a small sturdy pony known as a hobbler, which was noted for its ability to cover great distances over difficult ground at high speed. On his head the Reiver would typically wear a steel bonnet and a quilted jacket of stout leather sewn with plates of metal or horn to protect his body. Although the Reiver carried a variety of weapons including sword, dagger and axe, his preferred weapon was the ‘lang spear’ or Border lance.

The central governments of both England and Scotland attempted in vain to establish law and order across the Border, however a borderer would owe allegiance to England or Scotland only when it suited him or his family.

When England and Scotland were at war, it could become very much a Border affair with Reivers providing large numbers of cavalry. The battles of Otterburn (1388), Flodden Field (1513) and Solway Moss (1542) are all linked with the Reivers.

With the exception of the Scottish Highlands, the Borders were the last part of Britain to be brought under the rule of law.

It was only following the Union between England and Scotland in 1603 that a concerted effort was made by James I (VI of Scotland) to rid the Border of Reivers. However, between the death of Elizabeth I and the crowning of James I in March, several Scottish families launched massive raids into Cumbria, claiming to believe that when a monarch died the laws of the land were automatically suspended until the new king was proclaimed!

James I, who now ruled over a new kingdom called Great Britain, was furious with his Scottish subjects for relieving his new English subjects in Cumbria of some 1,280 cattle and 3,840 sheep and goats. James issued a proclamation against ‘all rebels and disorderly persons’.

James decreed that the Borders should be renamed ‘the Middle Shires’ and in 1605 he established a commission to bring law and order to the region. In the first year of the commission’s existence it executed 79 individuals and in the years which followed, scores more were hanged.

Other Reivers were encouraged to leave and serve as mercenaries in the armies of continental Europe. The Armstrongs and the Grahams were singled out for special treatment and were banished to Fermanagh in Ireland. Some continued as outlaws and became known as ‘Mosstroopers’.

By the early 1620’s peace had arrived in the Borders, possibly for the first time ever.

Some view the Border Reivers as loveable rogues, while others have compared them to the Mafia. Whatever your opinion their legacy remains in the fortified dwellings called pele towers, their ballads and their words now common in the English language such as “bereave” and “blackmail”: greenmail was the proper rent you paid, blackmail was “protection money”!

The rescue of Kinmont Willie Armstrong

Three of the most celebrated Reivers of all time were Kinmont Willie Armstrong, Wat Scott of Harden and Geordie Burn. The night before he was hanged in 1596, Geordie Burn admitted that ‘he had lain with above forty men’s wives… and that he had killed seven Englishmen with his own hand, cruelly murdering them that he had spent his whole time in whoring, drinking, stealing and taking deep revenge for slight offences’.’

Kinmont Willie prided himself on his large scale raids, targeting whole areas rather than individual farms or villages. He would ride at the head of some 300 Reivers, known as ‘Kinmont’s bairns’. One of the most famous incidents in Border history involves the rescue of Kinmont Willie from Carlisle Castle on 13 April 1596.

On 17 March 1596, a truce-day was held in the Borders, so that Scots and English could meet to negotiate deals and treaties. On the Scottish side was one William Armstrong of Kinmont or ‘Kinmont Willie’ – perhaps the most notorious of all the Border Reivers.

As Willie was riding home to his tower at Morton Rigg, just north of Carlisle, a band of Englishmen broke the truce and apprehended him. Kinmont Willie was escorted to Carlisle in chains.

Willie had been a prisoner of the English for almost a month when the Keeper of Liddesdale, Scott of Buccleuch, decided to launch a rescue attempt. ‘Bold Buccleugh’ and his party of about eighty men entered the castle on Sunday 13 April and rescued Willie from the English, who were under the command of Sir Thomas Scrope, 10th Lord Scrope of Bolton Knight of the Garter (pictured left). Buccleugh had bribed a member of the garrison to leave a door unbarred.

Together Buccleugh and Willie made good their escape with Scrope in hot pursuit. Scrope was so angered by the audacity of the rescue that he vented his anger by burning the towns of Annan and Dumfries to the ground, capturing two hundred prisoners whom he marched home ‘naked, chained together on leashes’. This caused a major diplomatic incident, Queen Elizabeth was furious with Scrope.

It was also said that north of the Border, James VI of Scotland was so terrified that Buccleugh had ruined his chances of succeeding Elizabeth on the throne of England that he ordered Buccleugh to hand himself over to the English.

And as for wiley Willie, he was never apprehended again and is said to have died of old age in his bed. The tale of his escape recorded forever in the Ballad of Kinmont Willie:

Ballad of Kinmont Willie

O hae ye no heard o’ the fause Sakelde?
O hae ye no heard o’ the keen Lord Scroope?
How they hae ta’en bauld Kinmont Willie,
On Haribee to hang him up?

Had Willie had but twenty men,
But twenty men as stout as he,
Fause Sakelde would never the Kinmont ta’en,
Wi’ eight score in his company.

They band his legs beneath the steed,
They tied his hands behind his back.
They guarded him, fivesome on either side,
And they led him through the Liddel-rack.

They led him through the Liddel-rack,
And also through the Carlisle sands
They took him tae Carlisle Castle,
To be at my Lord Scroope’s commands.

“My hands are tied, but my tongue is free,
And whae will dare this deed avow?
Or answer by the Border law?
Or answer tae the bauld Buccleuch?”

“Now haud thy tongue, thou rank reiver.
There’s never a Scot shall set thee free:
Before ye cross my castle gate,
I trow ye shall take farewell of me.”

Now word has gane tae the bauld keeper,
In Branksome Ha’, where that he lay,
That Lord Scroope has ta’en the Kinmont Willie,
Between the hours of night and day.

And here detained him, Kinmont Willie,
Against the truce of Border tide.
And forgotten that the bauld Buccleuch
Is keeper on the Scottish side?

“Had there been war between the lands,
As well I wot that there is nane,
I would slight Carlisle Castle high,
Though it were built of marble stane.”

“I would set that castle in a lowe,
And sloken it wi’ English blood.
There’s never a man in Cumberland,
What kent where Carlisle castle stood.”

“But since nae war’s between the lands,
And here is peace, and peace should be
I will neither harm English lad or lass,
And yet the Kinmont shall be free.”

And as we crossed the Debatable land,
And tae the English side we held,
The first of men that we met wi’,
Whae should it be but fause Sakelde?

“Where ye be gaun, ye broken men?”
Quo’ fause Sakelde “Come tell to me?”
Now Dickie o’ Dryhope led that band,
And there never a word of lear has he.

And as we left the Staneshaw-bank,
The wind began full loud tae blaw
But ’twas wind and weet, and fire and sleet,
When we came beneath the castle wa’.

They thought King James and a’ his men
Had won the house wi’ bow and spear
It was but twenty Scots and ten,
That put a thousand in sic a steir!

And as we reached the lower prison,
Where Kinmont Willie he did lie,
“O sleep ye, wake ye, Kinmont Willie,
Upon the morn that thou’s to die?”

Then shoulder high, with shout and cry,
We bore him doon the ladder lang
At every stride Red Rowan made,
I wot the Kinmont’s airns play’d clang!

He turn’d him on the other side,
And at Lord Scroope his glove flung he.
“If ye na like my visit in merry England,
In fair Scotland come and visit me!”

All sair astonished stood Lord Scroope,
He stood as still as rock of stane
He scarcely dared tae trew his eyes,
When through the water they had gane.

“He is either himsel’ a devil frae hell,
Or else his mother a witch maun be
I wadna hae ridden that wan water,
For a’ the gowd in Christendie.”

Battle of Brandywine Creek

Place of the Battle of Brandywine Creek: Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia.

Combatants at the Battle of Brandywine Creek: British and Hessian troops against the American Continental Army and Militia.

Major-General Sir William Howe: British, British commander at the Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War

Generals at the Battle of Brandywine Creek: Major-General Sir William Howe and General George Washington.

Size of the armies at the Battle of Brandywine Creek: Around 6,000 British and Hessians against 8,000 Americans.

Uniforms, arms and equipment at the Battle of Brandywine Creek:

The British wore red coats, with bearskin caps for the grenadiers, tricorne hats for the battalion companies and caps for the light infantry. The Highland Scots troops wore the kilt and feather bonnet.

The two regiments of light dragoons serving in America, the 16th and 17th, wore red coats and crested leather helmets.

The Hessian infantry wore blue coats and retained the Prussian style grenadier mitre cap with brass front plate.

The Americans dressed as best they could. Increasingly as the war progressed infantry regiments of the Continental Army mostly took to wearing blue uniform coats. The American militia continued in rough clothing.

Soldier and Officer of the 27th Regiment of Foot: Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War

Both sides were armed with muskets. The British and German infantry carried bayonets, which were in short supply among the American troops. The Highland Scots troops carried broadswords. Many men in the Pennsylvania regiments carried rifled weapons, as did other backwoodsmen. Both sides were supported by artillery.

Winner of the Battle of Brandywine Creek: The British and Hessians were left occupying the battlefield, after driving the Americans from their position on Brandywine Creek.

British Regiments at the Battle of Brandywine Creek:
16th Light Dragoons
Two Composite battalions each of grenadiers, light infantry and Foot Guards (1st, 2nd and 3rd Guards)
4 th , 5 th , 10 th , 15 th , 17 th , 23 rd (Royal Welsh Fusiliers), 27 th , 28 th , 33 rd , 37 th , 40 th , 44 th , 46 th , 49 th , 55 th , 64 th Regiments of Foot and three battalions of Fraser’s Highlanders or 71 st Foot.

British Light Dragoon: Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War

American Units at the Battle of Brandywine Creek:
Wayne’s Pennsylvania Brigade, Weeden’s Virginia Brigade, Muhlenburg’s Virginia Brigade, Proctor’s Artillery, Delaware Regiment, Hazen’s Canadian Regiment, Maxwell’s Light Infantry, Colonel Bland’s 1st Dragoons, Pennsylvania Militia, De Borre’s Brigade, Stephen’s Division and Stirling’s Division

Background to the Battle of Brandywine Creek:
The British plan for 1777 was that Major-General Burgoyne would bring his army, comprising British, Hessian, Brunswick and Canadian troops with a strong contingent of Native Americans and Loyalist Americans, south by Lake Champlain and the Hudson River, while Major-General Sir William Howe made his way north up the Hudson River to meet him.

Howe and his senior officers decided that it would be a more effective use of the British New York based army to move it by sea to the Chesapeake Bay and capture the colonist’s capital, Philadelphia.

American battery firing on British Foot Guards as the British begin their attack on General Sullivan’s Division at the Birmingham Friends Meeting House: Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War: picture by Lord Cantelupe who was present at the battle as an officer of the Coldstream Guards

Howe wrote to Burgoyne informing him of this change of plan. Burgoyne’s army was left to fight its way south on its own, with disastrous consequences for the British cause.

American troops advancing at the Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War

Major-General Sir William Howe’s British and Hessian army was transported by the Royal Navy to Chesapeake Bay and began its march towards Philadelphia.

General George Washington marched his army of American Continental Regiments and Colonial Militia south to Wilmington and attempted to delay the capture of Philadelphia, falling back before the British and Hessian army.

Map of the Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War: map by John Fawkes

Account of the Battle of Brandywine Creek:
On 9th September 1777, Washington’s army took position along the east bank of the Brandywine Creek at Chad’s Ford (now Chadds Ford).

Chad’s Ford: Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War

Brandywine Creek flowed through undulating countryside and heavily wooded hills, with steep cliffs along its banks in places. Below Chad’s Ford, the creek became narrower and faster so as to be unfordable.

American 2nd Canadian Continental Regiment: Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War

The route to Philadelphia crossed Brandywine Creek at Chad’s Ford, the most southern of a series of fords. Above Chad’s Ford, other fords crossed the creek up to the point where it divided into east and west branches.

Washington expected Howe’s army to march from Kennett Square, in the West, up to Chad’s Ford and carry out a frontal assault.

Pennsylvania Militia were posted to the left of the Chad’s Ford position, where little threat was perceived. Washington positioned Wayne’s Pennsylvania Continentals, with Weedon’s and Mulenburg’s brigades, in the centre opposite Chad’s Ford, under the command of Major-General Nathaniel Greene.

Major-General John Sullivan commanded on the right of the American army, posting forces under Colonel Moses Hazen at the distant Wistar’s and Buffington’s Fords. Light infantry and piquets were posted to the West of Brandywine Creek, to give warning of the British advance.

During the morning of 11 th September 1777, Major-General Howe’s army arrived at Kennett Meeting House to the West of Chad’s Ford. There his army divided. The Hessian, Lieutenant-General Knyphausen, led a powerful force on down the road towards Chad’s Ford.

Jeffrey’s Ford: Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War

At around noon on 11th September, Knyphausen’s force reached the Brandywine Creek at Chad’s Ford. His troops comprised Major Patrick Ferguson’s Riflemen and the Queen’s Rangers, followed by two British brigades (4th, 5th, 23rd, 49th, 10th, 27th, 28th, 40th Foot and three battalions of Fraser’s 71st Highlanders) and a Hessian brigade, also a squadron of 16th Light Dragoons and guns.

Knyphausen’s battalions took positions along the hills on the west bank and he began to cannonade the Americans across the river.

In the meantime, the second British column, under Major-General Howe and Major General Lord Cornwallis, marched north from the Kennett Meeting House, to cross the Brandywine Creek some miles upstream of the Chad’s Ford position.

Howe and Cornwallis continued north, until they reached a crossing point that the Americans were not occupying. This proved to be a ford on the West Branch of Brandywine Creek and Jeffrey’s Ford on the East Branch. After crossing both branches of the Brandywine Creek, the British turned south, marched through Sconneltown and reached the Birmingham Meeting House, behind Hazen’s troops and threatening the right rear of Washington’s main army.

British Foot Guards resting during the advance to outflank General Washington’s American Army at the Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War

The final stage of Howe’s and Cornwallis’ advance would be to pass Washington’s right flank and cut his army off from Philadelphia.

Birmingham Meeting House: Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War

Washington appears to have been advised of the British encircling movement by Hazen’s distant troops, but to have discounted the warning for some hours. Washington and his staff were convinced that the main attack was to be a frontal assault over Chad’s Ford. It was not until early afternoon that he was finally persuaded that the main British movement was to his right rear. During that time, he began an assault across the ford, but withdrew it.

On the alarm being given, Sullivan marched his right wing of the American army to the North-East and, joining the retreating Hazen, formed his troops on a hill at the Birmingham Meeting House. Howe’s regiments formed three columns and attacked the Americans.

British 46th Foot attacking at the Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War

Finally convinced of his mistake by the sound of heavy firing, Washington dispatched Greene with the American reserve to support Sullivan. By that time the British attack had driven Sullivan’s troops off the hill and Greene and Sullivan were retreating from the field.

At Chad’s Ford, Knyphausen launched an assault across the river, led by the 4th and 5th Foot. A contingent of British Foot Guards and grenadiers from Howe’s force emerged from the forest, where it had been temporarily lost, and attacked the right flank of Washington’s troops at the ford. The Americans were driven from their positions.

American troops at the Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War: picture by Frederick Coffay Yohn

The battle ended with the American army withdrawing up the road to Philadelphia in considerable confusion. Nightfall saved the Americans from greater loss.

The British encamped on the battlefield.

Camp of the 16th Light Dragoons the night after the Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War: picture by Lord Cantelupe, present at the battle as an officer of the Coldstream Guards

Casualties at the Battle of Brandywine Creek:

The British suffered casualties of 550 killed and wounded.

The Americans suffered casualties of around 1,000 killed, wounded and captured and lost 11 guns, 2 of which had been taken at the Battle of Trenton.

Follow-up to the Battle of Brandywine Creek: Brandywine hastened the loss of Philadelphia to the British. Washington was intending only to delay the British advance rather than halt it.

Brandywine is not considered a decisive battle, particularly in the light of the disaster about to engulf Burgoyne’s British and German Army on the Hudson River.

Wounding of the Marquis de Lafayette at the Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War: picture by Charles Henry Jeans

Anecdotes from the Battle of Brandywine Creek:

Light Company Man 4th King’s Own Royal Regiment of Foot: Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War

  • During the course of the Battle of Brandywine, the British officer, Major Patrick Ferguson, was lying in undergrowth with his company of light infantrymen, armed with Ferguson breech loading rifles, when two mounted American officers came into sight. Ferguson’s men asked if they should shoot them. Ferguson took the view, widely held in the British and other European armies, that to ‘snipe’ individual officers amounted to murder and ordered his men not to fire on the two officers. After the battle, Ferguson learnt that the two American officers were probably General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette.
  • The Battle of Brandywine is a striking example of outmanoeuvring a river position by the expedient of marching an outflanking force along the river, until it finds an undefended crossing point, crossing the river there, and marching back behind the position under attack, while the opposition is ‘fixed’ by a demonstrating force, sufficiently large and vigorous to deceive the defending general into believing that it is the main attack.
  • During the Battle of Brandywine, the British 15 th Regiment of Foot ran out of ball ammunition. The soldiers continued fighting by ‘snapping’ their muskets, or firing with a charge of black powder, to give the impression they were still able to shoot, while more ball was brought up. The regiment took the nickname of ‘the Snappers’. The standard issue for British troops armed with the ‘Brown Bess’ musket was 24 rounds. These rounds were quickly fired in heavy fighting. Systems for re-supplying infantry were haphazard and many regiments, both British and American, found themselves without ammunition during the course of a battle.
  • Spring up’ was the command for the British Light Infantry to stand up from the prone firing position. The 10 th Regiment of Foot acquired the nickname ‘the Springers’ from this command.

Marquis de Lafayette wounded at the Battle of Brandywine Creek on 11th September 1777 in the American Revolutionary War

References for the Battle of Brandywine Creek:

History of the British Army by Sir John Fortescue

The War of the Revolution by Christopher Ward

The American Revolution by Brendan Morrissey

The Philadelphia Campaign Volume I Brandywine and the Fall of Philadelphia by Thomas J. McGuire

The previous battle of the American Revolutionary War is the Battle of Bennington

The next battle of the American Revolutionary War is the Battle of Freeman’s Farm

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Flodden 1513: the biggest ever Anglo-Scottish battle

Just over five hundred years ago, a Scottish army invaded England in an attempt to thwart Henry VIII's challenge to their independence. George Goodwin describes what happened when the two sides clashed at Flodden Field

This competition is now closed

Published: September 1, 2013 at 5:53 pm

In 1542 King Henry VIII published a declaration asserting “the true and right title that the king’s most royal majesty has to the sovereignty of Scotland”. As evidence, he cited ‘history’ and the ancient division of Britain together with documentary ‘proof’ that the kings of Scotland had paid homage to their English superiors no fewer than 17 times from the 10th century onwards.

Although this was an act of the mature and tyrannical Henry, it exactly matched his behaviour 30 years before, when in 1512 he had parliament describe his brother-in-law James IV, King of Scots, as “the very homager and obediencer of right to your Highness”. In 1512, this was a means of indicating that the young Henry was now an active king, no longer passively accepting the peace policies of his father, Henry VII, but one preparing to emulate the actions of his hero Henry V by invading France. But for James IV, it was an extraordinarily hostile act, threatening this gifted monarch’s achievements over two decades and, in particular, that of having finally gained England’s apparent recognition of Scotland’s independence.

In his attempt to deter Scotland from its Auld Alliance with France – an alliance that implied the possibility of mutual military support should either be attacked by England – Henry VIII’s belligerence was unnecessary and counter-productive. It was to be the fundamental cause of the greatest ever Scottish invasion of England and the biggest Anglo-Scottish battle – at Flodden, in Northumberland 500 years ago, on 9 September 1513.

Henry VIII’s assertion in early 1512 was all the more noteworthy because, just a decade before, Henry VII and James IV had negotiated the countries’ first permanent peace agreement since 1328. Its purpose was made clear in its name: the Treaty of Perpetual Peace.

Anglo-Scottish peace

The new amity had been marked by the proxy betrothal of James IV with Henry VII’s eldest daughter, Margaret, then 12. The marriage took place in Edinburgh in 1503, after Margaret made a journey of six weeks from her father’s new Renaissance palace of Richmond. But to call it a mere journey is to undervalue it completely. Organised by the lord treasurer, Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, Margaret’s royal ‘progress’ was display on a magnificent scale, and that was its point. It was designed to show that Henry VII’s Tudor dynasty was secure and permanent. Henry had ascended the throne in 1485 with a very dubious claim to it. He was in a vulnerable position – one that the continental powers and, closer to home, Scotland, could exploit to their own advantage.

The Channel may have geographically separated the island of Britain from the continent, but in no way did it do so culturally and diplomatically. Henry VII wanted to increase the prestige and recognition of his dynasty through the marriage of his eldest son, Arthur, to a daughter of the great new nation of Spain. Its rulers, Ferdinand and Isabella, would only give their consent provided there was peace and stability both inside England and with Scotland.

James IV knew this and following border warfare in 1496 and 1497 he had offered peace, but at a price. It was paid through the eventual marriage of the ‘Thistle and the Rose’ and the terms of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace – but also because the treaty was negotiated between two sovereign kings. For Henry VII, who had spent 14 long years of exile in Brittany and France and who contemporaries said “preferred peace to war”, this was a price worth paying.

James IV may have been described as now ‘filial’ to Henry VII, but he was by no means subservient to him. On the contrary, he acted with complete self-determination, taking full advantage of the opportunities offered to him as a Renaissance king in a period of extraordinary change. This was a time of great invention, of printing, effective artillery and seaworthy ships of broad-beamed stability. James brought the last two together in a way that was revolutionary, building ships as gun platforms that blasted the bases of the Lords of the Isles and brought their lands under his domination.

For the first time in history, this King of Scots effectively ruled what we now know as Scotland and brought nobles from all over the country into his councils. Royal printers were licensed to produce a great number of works, among them the Scotichronicon, an epic history of the Scots, one that stressed the separate independent identity of Scotland and its people with such authority that it was with justification that Walter Bower, its 15th-century co-author, wrote that “Christ, he is not a Scot who is not pleased with this book”.

James did not just claim independence of action within Europe. He gave naval support to his uncle King Hans of Denmark and commissioned the largest and most powerful ship in Europe, the Great Michael, and offered it to Pope Julius II for use in a crusade against the Turks. Julius had more pressing concerns in Italy, but in 1507 James was awarded the papal prize of the Blessed Sword and Hat – the first King of Scots in more than three centuries to receive it.

James competed with other rulers in the magnificence of his display, in court ceremonial, tournaments and in palace architecture. At a time when many courts sought the services of Erasmus, the influential scholar from the Netherlands, it was James who secured them as tutor to his illegitimate son Alexander for a lengthy stay in Italy. All this magnificence came at a cost, but James’s competent ministers extended royal administration and taxation on an unprecedented scale and he was able, just, to balance the books. The English “homager and obedience” declaration of 1512 upset everything.

A new king flexes his muscles

There had been no immediate change when the 17-year-old Henry VIII came to the throne in 1509. The Treaty of Perpetual Peace was not in doubt and in 1510 his ministers even negotiated a treaty with the French.

But by 1512, with the aid of Thomas Wolsey, Henry had learned to assert himself, entering into an anti-French alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian and the papacy, and demanding Scottish obedience. This James could not ignore, but though he did renew the Auld Alliance with France, he made attempts to avoid war on British soil. There were many months of Scottish ambassadorial shuttle diplomacy, seeking to solve the main dispute between the papacy and France. James also attempted to limit his support of France to naval warfare, which, surprisingly, did not breach the terms of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace.

In the late summer of 1512, Baron Dacre, Henry’s warden-general of the Marches (the English and Scottish Marches were buffer zones on each side of the Anglo-Scottish border), wrote to Henry that he thought a little diplomacy and four to five thousand angels (or around £1,500) would settle the Scots. And as late as the early summer of 1513, some of Henry’s ministers were anticipating a limited naval war with Scotland. But, by then, the die was cast.

James’s policy of peace with England may have been sensible, but, following centuries of Anglo-Scottish hostility, it was not popular. It was respected because of James’s outstanding personal authority. Yet Henry’s belligerent approach not only threatened the peace, but also that authority. James could not be seen to bend the knee and instead had to face the likely consequences of a land war with England. He could not contemplate doing that in isolation. But, by the summer of 1513, a France about to be invaded jointly by Henry and Maximilian was prepared to pay a good price in money and weaponry for Scottish support. Thus on 22 August, when Henry VIII, the bulk of his nobility and his first-rate soldiery were fighting in France, James crossed the river Tweed, the historical boundary between Scotland and England.

His initial successes were outstanding. He took the border fortress of Norham within six days, together with the subsidiary one of Wark. The castles of Etal and Ford followed. By the end of the month, James was in control of the entire English East March. He had time to prepare an impregnable position on Flodden Hill and wait for the arrival of Henry’s secondary army, equipped with antiquated weaponry and commanded by the 70-year-old and arthritic Earl of Surrey, a man whom James had got to know and like 10 years before, after Margaret’s grand progress had reached Scotland.

On 5 September, Surrey was close enough to the Scottish army to send Thomas Hawley, Rouge Croix Pursuivant (a heraldic appointment with diplomatic and ceremonial duties), with an offer of battle on the 9th. Hawley was met some distance from James’s camp and detained to prevent him reporting the Scottish position. The next day, James sent his own Islay Herald back to Surrey, full of compliments and with the news that he accepted the challenge. With work done, Islay then went off for a major drinking session with the English York Herald, indicating that there was honour among heralds at least. Soon after, the released and returned Rouge Croix revealed the strength of James’s position: the English would be advancing into a crossfire of emplaced modern artillery and their disordered columns would then be wiped off the field by the all-conquering military manoeuvre of the day – the pike charge.

That James believed that the time and place had been agreed would explain his volcanic reaction when Rouge Croix returned to the Scottish camp on the 7th with a letter from Surrey stating that it had been agreed they would fight on the flat ground of Milfield Plain, and asking why James was showing no sign of moving from his fortress on Flodden Hill. James’s reply was given by a servant who communicated his fury with the words, “that it was not fitting for an earl to seek to command a king. His grace will take and hold his ground at his own pleasure and not at the direction of the Earl of Surrey.”

That was the entire nub of the matter, and a response to Henry as much as Surrey. James was not some sort of British lord under the sway of the English king, but a sovereign in his own right and a chivalric one at that. How dare Surrey doubt his word. The matter was settled. Thus it may have been of little surprise to James that, next day, Surrey’s force was seen to be marching north-eastwards, surely towards security within the English fortress of Berwick. When they halted that evening they were far closer to Berwick than to the Scottish position on Flodden Hill. James may not have gained the great victory he wanted, but by holding his ground, he had won the ‘honour’ of the day.

Perhaps James could not be expected to have appreciated one crucial point. Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and his eldest son, Thomas the Lord Admiral, were desperate men. They had both expected to be close to their king on his glorious campaign in France, but they had angered Henry VIII and been sent, ingloriously, to command his second army. ‘Honour’ to the Howards was a more minor consideration. The Howards needed a battle because they needed a victory. Anything else and they were finished.

Thus as the English army began to move at 5am on 9 September, it was no longer heading to the north east, but moving to the west and then, having crossed the river Till, heading south. The Howards aimed to cut off James’s return route of just a few miles to the border by taking Branxton Hill, slightly to the north-west of the Scots’ position. They were ready to give battle at 4pm – but from a position a few hundreds yards away, below the hill, as the Scottish army had got there first. James was to have his battle after all.

What was to become known as the battle of Flodden was both the last medieval and first modern British battle. The ‘last medieval’, because the longbow played an active part for the final time the ‘first modern’, because it began with an exchange of artillery fire.

The English guns were more effective, but this was a mere prelude to the Scottish pike charge. James had equipped the Scots with the weapon which, when employed en masse, had proven itself on the battlefields of Europe. The Scots, in four columns, around a hundred yards apart, began to advance at intervals in the standard echelon formation (with units arranged diagonally behind one another). The first group under Lords Hume and Huntly smashed into the troops of Surrey’s younger son, Edmund Howard, with such success that many of them broke ranks and ran – and Surrey was forced to send in his reserve, Dacre’s cavalry, to hold the line.

The second group, facing the Lord Admiral, were not so successful, losing momentum as they hit boggy ground at the bottom of their part of the hill. This was disastrous: the success of a pike charge lay in its momentum. That lost, the disordered individual pikes became a hindrance and were dropped in favour of swords and other side arms. Equipped with an eight-foot bill, an agricultural tool for scything, the English common soldier now had the advantage over a four-and-a-half foot sword.

The third group, led by James himself, faced Surrey. In spite of the difficulties of the ground and the discarding of the pikes, the Scots pushed Surrey’s troops back. If James had killed Surrey, the day should have been his. He got within a spear’s length – but no further. With the Admiral’s section crunching through their opponents, James’s group was now being attacked in the flank. The Scots were extraordinarily brave in the face of this onslaught they did not break, but fought on.

The fourth part of the Scottish echelon, lightly armoured Highlanders, had hardly advanced when they started falling under a hail of arrows from Sir Edward Stanley’s flanking attack. Stanley’s men could then shoot volley after volley of arrows into the rear of James’s forces. The Scots could only fight on, hoping that nightfall would save them. For many it did. But not James, the last British king to be killed in battle, nor his brilliant son Alexander, nor 21 peers, not to mention the sons of peers, the gentry and the common soldiery. The Battlefields Trust estimates that when the battle commenced the Scots had between 35,000 and 40,000 men and the English 26,000. At its close the Scots had lost 10,000 and the English 4,000.

Flodden was an appalling Scottish defeat. Yet, in spite of the loss of their king and so many lords, and in spite of the extraordinary faction fighting during the minority of James V (just 17 months old when he became king after Flodden), the basic administration and very entity of Scotland held together. That was a tribute to the two decades of brilliant rule by James IV – as also was the ability of James V, in spite of his weaker position, to provoke Henry VIII into his 1542 declaration of sovereignty over Scotland.

The Anglo-Scottish War of 1513 was not of James IV’s making, but such was the seriousness of Henry VIII’s challenge that he had to respond. At Flodden, James had failed to realise the desperation of the Howards and the existence of the groundwater at the foot of Branxton Hill. Without one of these factors, the day would have ended very differently. Flodden has been allowed to obscure King James IV’s achievements. These were great and long lasting, including the creation of Scotland itself. Perhaps with Flodden’s 500th commemoration this year, it might be time to give him his due.

7 key moments in the battle

Opening salvos

The lighter English field guns are more effective than the heavier Scottish siege guns, which have a much slower rate of fire.

Scots pikemen attack

The first part of the pike attack under Lords Hume and Huntly smashes into the English right under Surrey’s son Edmund Howard. His line begins to break.

Dacre rescues

Surrey throws in his reserve – Lord Dacre’s cavalry. Edmund is rescued by John ‘the Bastard’ Heron and Dacre shores up the position. After bitter fighting both sides stand off. Meanwhile the second group of Scots pikemen advance against the Lord Admiral’s position.

In the mire

King enters battle

James IV attacks Surrey’s English centre and, despite poor ground, has some success, getting to within a spear’s length of Surrey himself.

Highlanders routed

Stanley ambushes lightly armed Highlanders with his archers. They are slain or forced to flee.

English arrowstorm

Stanley’s archers send volleys of arrows into James’s men from the rear. The Scots are attacked on three sides and the king is killed in fierce fighting.

Topics similar to or like Anglo-Scottish Wars

The Anglo-Scottish Wars comprise the various battles which continued to be fought between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland from the time of the Wars of Independence in the early 14th century through to the latter years of the 16th century. Wikipedia

Scotland in the Late Middle Ages, between the deaths of Alexander III in 1286 and James IV in 1513, established its independence from England under figures including William Wallace in the late 13th century and Robert Bruce in the 14th century. In the 15th century under the Stewart Dynasty, despite a turbulent political history, the Crown gained greater political control at the expense of independent lords and regained most of its lost territory to approximately the modern borders of the country. Wikipedia

Constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom, its dependencies and its overseas territories. Queen Elizabeth II, who ascended the throne in 1952. Wikipedia

Battles of the Anglo-Scottish Wars - History

A comprehensive listing of Scottish battles

84 Mons Graupius , Aberdeenshire (Romans invasion of Scotland) - Agricola beats Calgacus
125 Hadrian's Wall built
184 circa Ulpius Marcellus defeats some tribes from Central Scotland along the Wall
306 Constantius I campaign against the Picts and Scots
333 Romans begin pulling troops from Britain and abandon work on Hadrian's Wall
342 Picts attack the protected territories north of Hadrian's Wall
360 Picts and Scots (Irish) cross Hadrian's Wall and attack Roman Forces in Britain
542 Glen Water, Ayrshire - King Arthur victorious
560 Dalriada , Lorn - King Brude regains control of the area
573 Lora, Kintyre - Duncan MacCongail defeated
578 Isle of Jura , Argyllshire - Scots v Britons?
590 Leithreid , Sutherland - Aidan victorious
596 Ratho near Edinburgh - Aidan victorious
596 Ardsendoin - Aidan victorious
600 near Chirchind - Aidan defeated by the Picts
600 near Corinnie , Aberdeenshire - Aidan defeated by the Picts
600 Catraeth ( Catterick ?) - 300 Edinburgh horsemen killed by English
603-85 Battles of Northumbria
603 Degsastan or Daegestan ( Dawston in Liddesdale ?), Roxburgh
621 Cindelgthen , Argyllshire - clan war
627 Ardacorain , Kintyre - clan war
629 Faedhaeoin , Scotland - Conadh Kerr beaten by Rigullan
634 Calathros , Stirlingshire
635 Seguise , Perthshire - Nectan family beaten by Garnait
638 Glenmarreston , near Edinburgh, Merioneth (Angles beat the Scots)
642 December Strathcarron , Stirlingshire
685 20th May Dunnichen Moss nr Forfar
710 Carron River - Picts beaten
711 Loch Arklet , Stirlingshire - Scots victorious over Britons
717 Minvircc , Perthshire - Scots beat the Britons
719 Finglen , Dunbartonshire
727 Irroisfoichnae , Argyllshire
727-9 Monacrib , Perthshire - long running local clan war
728 Caislen Crathi - clan war
729-30 Montcarno , Moray - clan war
730 12th August Dromaderg Blathmig , Angus - Picts beaten
734 Unrecorded battle - Talorgan beat Brudi
736 Cnuicc Coipri - local clans
737 Unidentified clan battle
739 Dalriada - clan warfare
739 Twini Onirbre - clan warfare
742 Dunadd , Caithness - Scots beaten by MacFergus
743 Droma Cathvaoil - clan warfare
744 Mugdock , Dunbartonshire - Angus beats the Britons
746 Catho - Welsh beat the Picts
752 Sreith , Kincardineshire - quarrel between the Picts
756 Alcluith , Dumbarton - Britons defeated
763 Fortren - site unidentified
786 First Viking Raids
788 Unrecorded site - Constantine I beats MacTeige
836 Ayr , Ayrshire - Kenneth I beaten by the Britons
839 Unrecorded site (Danish Invasion) - Danes beat Eogan
875 Dollar (Danish Invasion of Scotland)
877 Crail , Fife (Danish Invasion) - Danes beat the Scots
900 Forres
902 Holme (or The Holm) (Danish Invasion) - Danes victorious
903 Dunkeld , Perthshire (Danish Invasion) - Danes victorious over Scottish King
904 Forteviot , Perthshire (Danish Invasion) - Scottish King beats Danes
904 circa Scone, Perthshire (Danish Invasion) - Scottish King beats Danes
913-6? Corbridge , Northumberland Constantine III of Scotland beats Ragnall
921 Tynemoore , Northumberland (Danish Invasion) - Danes beaten by Scottish king
941 Tyninghame , East Lothian (Danish Invasion) - Danes beaten by the Saxons
942 Unidentified site - Saxons victorious
953 "Bloody Pots" ( Gamrie ), Banffshire (Danish Invasion) - Danes beaten
954 Fetteresso , Kincardineshire - local battle
961 The Bands (Danish Invasion of Scotland)
961 Cullen, Moray (Danish Invasion of Scotland) - Danes beaten
965 Drumcrob , Perthshire - local battle
967 Forres , Moray - local battle
973 Luncarty , Perthshire (Danish Invasion of Scotland) - King Kenneth II defeats the Danes
977 Skida Moor, Caithness - local battle
997 Rathinveramon , Perthshire - local battle
100*? Skidhamyrr , Caithness - Norsemen attack Scots
1004/5 Monnivaird (or Monzievaird ), Perthshire - local battle
1006 Durham - Malcolm, King of Scotland victorious
1008 Forres , Moray - local battle
1009-12 Danish Invasion
1009 Kinloss (Danish invasion of Scotland)
1009 Nairn (Danish Invasion of Scotland)
1010 Mortlach , Aberdeenshire (Danish Invasion) - King Malcolm II defeats the Danes
1010 St Bride, Lanarkshire (Danish Invasion) - King Malcolm II defeats the Danes
1010 Camuston , Moray (Danish Invasion) - King Malcolm II defeats the Danes
1010 Buchan, Moray (Danish Invasion) - Scots defeats the Danes
1010 Slains Castle, Aberdeenshire (Danish Invasion) - Scots defeats the Danes
1010 Brechin , Fifeshire (Danish Invasion) - Scots defeats the Danes
1016 Coldstream , Berwickshire - local battle
1016 Carham on River Tweed, Northumberland (Scottish National War)
1026 Holy River (?)
1031 King Cnut the Dane invades the North East in order to protect it from the Scots
1040 Elgin, Moray - Macbeth beats Duncan
1040 Thurso , Caithness - local clan battle
1054 Dunsinane Hill, Perthshire (Anglo-Saxons v Macbeth)
1057 15th August Lumphanan , Aberdeenshire (Malcolm kills MacBeth )
1058 Essie , Aberdeenshire - Malcolm Canmore defeats Lulach
1092 13th November Alnwick I ( Alnwic ) (Anglo-Scottish War)
1094 Unknown - Donald III deposed
1097 Unknown - Donald II beaten by Malcolm
1130 Inchbare , Angus _ King david of Scotland beats the Earl of Moray
1136 Newcastle (Anglo-Scottish War)
1136 Carlisle, Cumberland (Anglo-Scottish War)
1138 22nd August Northallerton (The Battle of the Standards), Yorkshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1156 6th January Isle of Islay , Argyll - Danes defeated by Lord of the Isles
1160 Galloway - Fergus defeated by Malcolm IV of Scotland
1164 Renfrew (also called The Knock or Bloody Mire) (Anglo-Scottish War)
1173 Bowes Castle in Teesdale attacked by King William the Lion of Scotland
1174 13th June Alnwick II, Northumberland (Anglo-Scottish War) - English victory - Treaty of Falaise
1185 1st January Galloway - Roland beat Gilpatrick
1185 30th September Galloway - Roland beat Gilcolm
1187 31st July Mamgarvia Moor, Moray - MacWilliam beaten by William I of Scotland
1190 Battle of the Sheaves (or Corrnaigmore ), Isle of Tiree , Argyll - locals beaten by the Danes
1196 River Oykell , Ross - William I of Scotland defeats Earl Harold
1196 Thurso , Caithness - William I of Scotland takes the castle
1215 Moray area - clan warfare
1235 Galloway area Thomas of Galloway defeated by Alexander I of Scotland
1249 Isle of Kerrera , Argyll
1261 Hebrides area - Norse invasion repelled by Earl of Ross
1262 Caithness , Isle of Skye and Isle of Lewis - King of Norway defeats locals
1263 Lorn invaded by Haco , King of the Norsemen, (Norse Invasion of Scotland)
1263 2nd October Largs , Ayrshire (Norse Invasion of Scotland)
1296 Loudon Hill, Ayrshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1296 28th May Berwick-on-Tweed, Northumberland (Anglo-Scottish War)
1296 23rd April Spottismuir , East Lothian (Anglo-Scottish War)
1296 27th April Dunbar I (Anglo-Scottish War)
1297 Sanquhar , Dunfries (Anglo-Scottish War)
1297 Dalswinton , Dumfries (Anglo-Scottish War)
1297 10th August Lochmaben , Dumfries (Anglo-Scottish War)
1297 11th September Stirling Bridge, Stirlingshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1298 22nd July Falkirk I, Stirlingshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1300 Cree, Wigtownshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1303 24th February Roslin , Edinburgh (Anglo-Scottish War)
1303 May Stirling , Stirlingshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1304 February Happrew , Midlothian (Anglo-Scottish War)
1306 19th June Methuen (or Methven Park) (Anglo-Scottish War)
1306 13th July Dalry , Ayrshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1306 early September Kildrummy Castle (Anglo-Scottish War)
1307 Turnberry , Ayrshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1307 9th February Loch Ryan, Wigtownshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1307 March Glentrool , Wigtownshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1307 8th May Sanquhar (Anglo-Scottish War)
1307 10th May Loudon Hill, Ayrshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1307 13th May Ayr , Ayrshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1307 Fail, Ayrshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1307 14th September Paisley Forest, Renfrewshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1307 mid-November Slioch , Huntly , Aberdeenshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1307 24th December Barra Hill, Aberdeenshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1308 Inverurie (Anglo-Scottish War) (Victory for Robert the Bruce)
1308 August Brander Pass, Argyll (Anglo-Scottish War)
1311 Corbridge , Northumberland (Anglo-Scottish War)
1311 Berwick, Northumberland (Anglo-Scottish War)
1311 Linlithgow , West Lothian (Anglo-Scottish War)
1312 Hexham , Northumberland (Anglo-Scottish War)
1312 Durham, Durham (Anglo-Scottish War)
1312 Hartlepool , Durham (Anglo-Scottish War)
1313 Edinburgh, Midlothian (Anglo-Scottish War)
1310 May Inverary (Anglo Scottish Wars)
1313 unknown site in Roxburgh - (Anglo-Scottish War)
1313 Perth, Perthshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1314 14th March Edinburgh, Midlothian (Anglo-Scottish War)
1314 23rd-24th June Bannockburn, Sterlingshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1315 Fordell , Fife (Anglo Scottish Wars)
1316 February Skaithmuir , Berwickshire (Anglo Scottish Wars)
1317 March Lintalee (or Linthaughlee ), Roxburgh (Anglo Scottish Wars)
1317 June Berwick area, Northumberland (Anglo Scottish Wars)
1317 August Inverkeithing (Anglo Scottish Wars)
1317 Winter Donibristle , Fife (Anglo-Scottish War)
1318 April Berwick, Northumberland (Anglo-Scottish War)
1319 20th September Myton (or Myyton ), Yorkshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1319 Gasklune , Angus (Anglo-Scottish War)
1322 16th March Boroughbridge , Yorkshire (Rebellion of the Marches)
1322 14th October Byland , Yorkshire (Anglo-Scottish)
1322 Stockton plundered and fired by the Scots
1332 12th October Dupplin Moor, Perthshire (Anglo-Scottish War)
1333 19th July Halidon Hill, Northumberland (Anglo-Scottish War)
1335 Borough Muir, Edinburgh area (Anglo-Scottish War)
1335 30th November Kilblene (Anglo-Scottish War)
1338 Otterburn I (Anglo-Scottish War)
1339 June Dunbar II (Anglo-Scottish War)
1346 17th October Neville's Cross, Durham (Anglo-Scottish War)
1347 unknown site in Roxburgh - (Anglo-Scottish War)
1355 Nesbet on Teviot , Roxburgh (Anglo-Scottish War)
1370 Carham on Tweed, Northumberland
1380 Solway - Scots beat English
1388 19th August Otterburn II (or Chevy Chase), Northumberland (Anglo-Scottish War)
1392 August Glasclune , Perthshire
1395 Tuttim-Turwigh , Scotland - MacKays beat the MacLeods
1400 March Cockburnspath , East Lothian - Henry Percy beaten
1400 September Fulhope Law, Northumberlanf - Scots beaten
1402 22nd January Nesbit Moor, Northumberland - English victorious over Scots
1402 14th September Homildon Hill (Anglo-Scottish War) - Northumberland beats Douglas
1411 11th July Harlaw , (or Pitcaple ) nr Inverurie (Scottish Civil War)
1415 May Yeavering (or Geteringe ) (Anglo Scottish War)
1424 Dumbarton
1427 Strathnever , Caithness
1435 10th September Piper Dene , Northumberland
1445 Arbroath , Angus - the Lindsays beat the Ogilvies
1448 23rd October Gretna, Dumfries
1452 May Brechin , Angus (Douglas rebellion)
1455 12th May Arkenholm ( Arkinholm ) (Douglas rebellion)
1460 3rd August Roseburgh (or Roxborugh ) (Anglo Scottish Wars)
1480 Lagebread , Wester Ross
1484 22nd July Kirkconnel , Dumfrieshire
1487 Aldy-Charrish , Wester Ross - MacKays beat the Rosses
1488 Rout of Talla Moss
1488 18th June Sauchie Burn (or Sauchieburn ) (Rebellion of Barons)
1491 Blair na Parc , Ross
1512 Milfield (near Coldstream ), Berwickshire
1513 28th August Norham , Northumberland - James IV beaten by Earl of Surrey
1513 9th September Flodden (Anglo-Scottish War)
1514 Hornshole , Roxburgh
1515 Cleanse the Causeway (or Edinburgh), Midlothian
1516 Torran-Dubh , Sutherland
1518 Craiganairgid , Argyll - MacIan beaten
1520 Edinburgh, Midlothian - Douglas beat Earl of Arran
1523 Series of raids on Scottish Border
1542 August Haddon Rig, Roxborough (Anglo-Scottish War)
1542 24th November Solway Moss, Dumfries (Anglo-Scottish War)
1545 27th February Ancrum Moor (or Heath), Roxborough (Anglo-Scottish War)
1547 21st July St Andrews, Fife - The Castilians beaten by Leo Strozzi
1547 10th September Pinkie Cleugh (Anglo-Scottish War)
1562 Skirmish Hill, Darnick , Roxburgh
1562 28th October Corrichie Hill, Aberdeenshire (Huntley's Rebellion)
1567 15th June Carberry Hill, East Lothian (Rebellion against Mary Stuart)
1568 13th May Langside , Glasgow, Lanarkshire (Rebellion against Mary Stuart)
1570 February The Gelt (Anglo-Scottish)
1575 The Raid of Reidswire (Carter Bar), Northumberland borders
1586 Aldgown - Sinclairs beaten by MacKays and Gunn
1593 Dryfe Sands, Lockerbie, Dumfries
1594 4th October Glenlivet , Moray ( Huntly's rebellion)
1598 5th August Traigh Gruinart , Isle of Islay , Argyll - Mavdonald beat MacLean
1600 5th August Perth - James VI (Gowrie conspiracy)
1601 Benquihillin , Isle of Skye - MacLeods beaten by Macdonalds
1601 Carinish , North Uist - MacLeods beaten by Macdonalds
1603 Luss , Dunbartonshire (Slaughter of Lennox)
1604 4th April Glen Fruin (or Glenfruin ) (Scottish Civil Wars)
1639 14th February Turriff , Aberdeen - Covenanters v Huntly
1639 14th May Turriff , Aberdeen - Covenanters beaten
1639 3rd June Kelso
1639 15th June Megray Hill, Kincardines - Covenanters beat William Gunn
1639 18th June Bridge of Dee, Aberdeen (First Bishop's War) - Montrose beat Huntly
1640 28th August Newburn Ford (First Bishop's War)
1644 5th February Corbridge - Scots beaten by Langdale (English Civil War)
1644 1st September Tippermuir - Montrose defeats Lord Elgin (English Civil War)
1644 13th September Justice Mills, Aberdeen - Montrose beat Balfour (English Civil War)
1645 2nd February Inverlochie (or Inverlochy ) (English Civil War)
1645 4th April Dundee, Angus - locals beaten by Montrose (English Civil War)
1645 9th May Auldearn - Montrose victorious (English Civil War)
1645 28th July Dunkeld , Perthshire (English Civil War)
1645 15th August Kilsyth , Stirling - Baillie defeated by Montrose (English Civil War)
1645 13th September Philiphaugh - Montrose defeated (English Civil War)
1647 Dunaverty , Argyll - Earl of Argyll beats the Royalists (English Civil War)
1647 24th May Rhunahaorine Point, Argyll
1648 28th April Berwick taken by Langdale (English Civil War)
1648 12th June Mauchline Moor, Ayrshire (English Civil War)
1648 14th July Penrith - Scots cavalry clash with Lambert's cavalry (English Civil War)
1650 27th April Carbiesdale (N Scotland)
1650 19th July Edinburgh, Midlothians
1650 Invercharron (Montrose defeated by Strachen )
1650 3rd September Dunbar (Cromwell in Scotland)
1650 24th December Edinburgh Castle surrenders (English Civil War)
1651 Pitreavie (near Inverkeithing , Fife) (English Civil War)
1651 31st August Sack of Dundee, Angus. Civilian population slaughtered by General Monck (English Civil War)
1651 2nd September the Surrender of Perth (English Civil War)
1655 Dalnaspiddal ( Perthshire ) - General Monck beat Glencairn
1664 28th October Fyvie (Aberdeen)
1666 November Rullion Green (Covenanter's Revolt)
1666 28th November Pentland Hills (Covenanter's Revolt)
1679 11th June Drumclog , Ayrshire (Covenanter's Revolt)
1679 22nd June Bothwell Bridge, Lanarkshire (Covenanter's Revolt)
1680 20th July Airds Moss
1680 Allt a Mhullaich ( Altimorloch ), Argyll
1689 27th July Killiecrankie , Perth ( Jacobite Rising)
1689 21st August Dunkeld , Perth ( Jacobite Rising)
1690 1st May Cromdale (Moray) ( Jacobite Rising)
1692 13th February Glencoe,Argyll ( Jacobite Rising)
1715 12th-14th November Preston II, Lancs ( Jacobite Rising)
1715 13th November Sherrifmuir ( Jacobite Rising)
1719 10th June Glen Shiel
1745 21st September Prestonpans ( Gladsmuir ) ( Jacobite Rising)
1745 August Glenfinnan ( Jacobite Rising)
1745 9th-13th November Carlisle ( Jacobite Rising)
1745 18th December Clifton Moor ( Jacobite Rising)
1746 17th January Falkirk II ( Jacobite Rising)
1746 16th April Culloden (or Drummossie Moor) ( Jacobite Rising)
1746 Ruthven Barracks
1882 17th April Battle of the Braes, Skye (Highland Clearances)

Battles of the Anglo-Scottish Wars - History

As the 14th century progressed, the Norman problems in Ireland continued to get worse, as the shortfall of manpower and finances meant continuing difficulties against the native Kingdoms. More and more, the Normans, now more readily identified in history as the English, found themselves having to compromise, to make alliances with the neighbouring Irish territories, taking advantage of the never ending wars between the Gaelic Kingdoms by supporting one King above another. Even with that, the Irish were enjoying a resurgence in their conflict with “the foreigners”, especially in Munster. But the Irish were never in a position to unify and threaten the position of the English who had consolidated their hold in eastern Leinster and Ulster, the areas which had soon become their main positions of control.

Worth noting in the context of increased Irish resistance to foreign armies is the growing number of foreign mercenaries fighting for Irish lords, an element that was proving vital to the containing of the Anglo-Norman position in Ireland. Mostly Scottish in origin and operating on a seasonal basis (or in exchange for land), these galloglaigh, (“young foreign soldiers”) usually anglicised as “gallowglass”, were a crucial part of the Irish war machine, and would remain so for centuries. A force multiplier that added a distinct element of spine and defensive resistance to an Irish army, the gallowglass had a presence in most of the battles of the day.

It was perhaps just as well for the English that they did not have to unduly worry about the threat from those Irish, as they had other things to worry about, namely a long drawn out conflict with the Scots, known today as the first Scottish War of Independence, the war popularised by the movie Braveheart.

In 1314 the Scottish, under Robert Bruce, had won a famous and crucial victory over the English at Bannockburn. Having thwarted another English invasion of the northern Kingdom, the Scots now turned their attention towards offence. With the Scottish lands threatened with the loss of the Isle of Man, Robert was of a mind to spread outwards to the west.

Targeting Ireland for an invasion was a natural option. It would open a second front against the English, forcing the battered armies of Edward II to be stretched to cover all of their territory along with all of the financial problems that would entail. Ireland and Scotland had plenty of cultural and societal ties, and would be sure to gain support from the locals. The invasion of Ireland would be headed by Edward Bruce, Robert’s brother.

The Bruce dynasty had received further encouragement for such an endeavour after requests from Domnall mac Brian O’ Neill, the King of Tir Eogain. His Kingdom was hard pressed on all asides thanks to the advancement of the Ulster Earldom, then under the control of Richard Og de Burgh, “the Red Earl”. He, along with his vassals and allies, requested assistance from the Scots, knowing that they had a common enemy. Naturally, O’ Neill seemed to have learned nothing about the dangers of inviting foreign fighters into Ireland.

The terms for such assistance were steep. Robert expected the Irish now allying with him to support his brother in his claim for the Kingship of Ireland, aiming to create a permanent Scottish stronghold in Ireland from which he could launch further attacks on England, through Wales. O’ Neill agreed. With such plans made, the Scots prepared their fleet for the crossing in April 1315.

In late May, they embarked, 6’000 men in all, landing between Larne and Glendrum, Antrim. The English, through intelligence gained by Richard Mortimer, had some forewarning of the landing and had prepared accordingly, marshalling an army from the Earldom of Ulster, which mixed with local Irish vassals and Lords.

The initial clash between the two forces set the tone for much of the campaign to follow, as the combined English/Irish army was defeated. As with most battles of this period the details of the fight are not recorded, only the outcome. The English were thrown back in disarray, and the Scots were able to take the town of Carrickfergus (though not its castle) shortly afterward, a beachhead established.

For Edward Bruce, a difficult task was over. A landing had been achieved, his army had been transported across the sea without difficulty, and he had beaten off the first English counter-stroke.

The King of Tir Eogain and his local vassals soon arrived to bolster Edward’s army and swear fealty to him as the new King of Ireland. Such proclamations and claims meant little though, as most of the island refused to respect it. Some Irish territories were openly allied with the English, others simply ignored the fighting as best they could and had little time for a claim to the Kingship from a Scottish pretender. What could not be disputed however was the control that Edward had been able to gain in Ulster, with the English scrambling to try and create a viable military opposition.

Edward, his army enlarged, was soon marching south, beginning the tactics of burnings and assault that would mark his time in Ireland. Rathmore, Castleroache and Dundalk were all attacked and torched by his forces, the only opposition coming from a failed ambush by some of the lords who had knelt to him previously. Another aspect of the Bruce campaign, betrayal and diplomatic counter-dealings, was already very much evident.

But it mattered little at that exact moment, given how easily Edward had penetrated into Ireland, to the extent that he was now threatening Dublin and English lands in Leinster.

By July, two separate English/Irish armies had been raised to face Edward. The Justicier Edmund Butler had marshalled an army from English holdings in Leinster and Munster but the main force was that of the Red Earl and his key Irish ally Felim Ua Conchobhar, the King of Connaught. These forces, marching closely but acting separately for reasons of personal ambition, moved northward to intercept Edward, now in Louth.

What followed was an inconclusive stand off. De Burgh made the more aggressive moves, trying to out-manoeuvre Edward’s armies and cut him off from his northern base, but Bruce refused to give battle at that time, retreating north before he was blocked off and then moving west through Armagh and into Derry with his O’ Neill allies, attacking and sacking Coleraine, destroying its bridge so that the Earl of Ulster could not easily pursue.

The two sides thus faced off across the River Bann. Edward had the advantage, his army in friendly territory, easily re-supplied, where as the English/Irish force was beginning to feel the pinch. Edmund Butler’s force had already retreated to Ormond because of his lack of supplies, and it was clear that, in such a waiting game, De Burgh could not triumph. Thus pressed, the Red Earl retreated to Antrim so he could re-supply his own force, perhaps also thinking that Bruce would not be able to continue with the campaign season on the wane.

At this moment, politics and treachery again came into play. Edward was aware that he would be hardpressed to beat De Burgh’s force as it stood, and that he would have to be weakened and beaten before another thrust southwards. He sent communications to Felim in the English camp, promising to support his position in Connacht if he would withdraw. He also sent the same message to Cathal Ua Conchobhar, a rival claimant to the throne in Connacht. Cathal struck immediately, returning home, raising a rebellion and declaring himself King. Felim had no choice but to also leave in order to defend his throne.

De Burgh’s army was gutted as a significant portion of it (including some English with lands in the area) departed westward in order to defend and fight over the lands of Connacht. In this, Edward had achieved a major victory with just a few words.

With his enemies army disintegrating, Edward took the initiative, crossed the Bann in boats, and attacked. De Burgh had no choice but to retreat from the onslaught, moving his army to the village of Connor, Antrim where, in early September, he was caught by the Scots/Irish army. The result was another decisive victory for Edward, and another disaster for the English and Anglo-allied Irish. De Burgh survived and retreated with what force he could to safer lands in Connacht, while others clamoured for refuge in Carrickfergus castle, the stronghold still holding out even then.

Edward had, in a few short months, beaten the English and their Irish allies twice, burned and sacked numerous town and villages and had shown himself able to operate with almost impunity in Ireland. The English had been beaten, their armies scattered and even their Irish allies were back fighting amongst themselves. Edward seemed to be in a prime position to wreck further chaos and havoc on Ireland, and maybe even make good on his claim to the islands throne.

How were the English so easily beaten? The same problems that had allowed the Irish to become a more dangerous threat, to challenge Norman power at Druim-Dearg years before, were only getting worse. The battle-hardened army of Edward Bruce was an equal of the English, with much experience fighting that very enemy in Scotland. His army was something that the English in Ireland were not used to facing. Further, he skilfully managed the diplomatic and political realities on the ground, gaining support where he could and sowing discord in the enemy army at crucial times.

He also made sure that he faced the Red Earl’s army when it suited him, not the other way round, dragging De Burgh’s army deep into unfriendly lands where he himself could be kept easily supplied and striking only when the enemy army was numerically weakened and demoralised. De Burgh also refused to link up with the army of Edmund Butler, a mistake borne of personal ambition. Edward Bruce, for all the negativity that Irish chroniclers attach to him for his tendency to burn and sck, had a good military mind, and his skill in battle was to be proven over and over again in the following years.

While all that was going on, the civil wars of the Irish continued, and one of the more bloody encounters of that kind in the period, happening concurrent to the Bruce campaign, will be discussed next.

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Watch the video: Battle Of The ISANDLWNA 18790122 (January 2022).