Scotlands History

Rough Wooing

Mary Queen of Scots' betrothal to Edward VI of England did not sit well with the Scots. They objected to the demands of the Greenwich Treaties. The insistence of Henry VIII that the Scots break the Auld Alliance with France may have been the final straw. The Scottish Parliament broke the treaty and the engagement soon after the infant Mary was proclaimed Queen of Scots.

Henry VIII’s response was to begin a military campaign. He attacked Scotland with the intention of intimidating the Scots into accepting the marriage proposal.

Henry’s orders were simple, and terrifying - ‘Put all to fire and sword’.

...Put all to fyre and swoorde, burne Edinborough towne, so rased and defaced when you have sacked and gotten what ye can of it, as there may remayn forever a perpetual memory of the vengeaunce of God lightened upon them for their faulsehode and disloyailtye.

Do what ye can out of hande...to beate down and overthrowe the castle, sack Holyrood house, and as many townes and villages about Edinborough as ye may conveniently, sack Lythe [Leith] and burn and subvert it and all the rest, putting man, woman and child to fyre and sworde without exception, where any resistance shallbe made agaynst you...

...passe over to Fyfelande and extende like extremityes and destructions in all towns and villages.

Henry VIII sent the Earl of Hertford north. His forces burned Scots towns including Dunbar and Leith. Over the next two years Henry’s forces terrorised the Scots. Some Border clans joined Henry in an attempt to save themselves. At the Battle of Ancrum Moor, when the Scots routed Henry’s force, the Borderers switched sides mid-battle and attacked their former allies.

Henry VIII died in January 1547 but his son Edward VI continued the harrowing of Scotland. On 10 September 1547 the Scots suffered a terrible defeat at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh - fought near Musselburgh in East Lothian. They came under fire from English longbow men, artillery and a naval bombardment from English ships anchored offshore.

To the Scots it became known as Black Saturday.

Rather than give in, Marie de Guise sent her young daughter Mary to safety in France where she would marry the Dauphin Francis, son of the French King Henry II.

  • Rough wooing - fire and sword
  • Image of re-enactment of one of the ladies of King Henry VIII's court waiting for his wedding to Katryn Parr.

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