10 September 2021

Anniversary of the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh


On this day -- 1547, Scots were resoundingly defeated by the English at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh on the banks of the River Esk near Musselburgh close to Edinburgh.

The battle was came about because of the the “Rough Wooing” (attempt at a forced marriage), The English king demands that the ten-year-old Edward VI should marry Mary Queen of Scots, aged five, to unite the two crowns.

The military campaign on the Borders, was provoked by the Scottish Parliament reneging on a previous agreement that the wedding to would place. The Scots backed out because they saw the move for what it was -- putting Edward VI on the throne of Scotland to rule in Mary's place.

The battle was fought at Pinkie Cleugh (cleugh meaning narrow glen in Gaelic) outside Musselburgh. The Scottish forces numbered about 36,000 against the 16,000 English. However James Hamilton, Duke of Châtellerault, 2nd Earl of Arran, and Regent of Scotland lacked the training and discipline to wield such a large army, so they were hampered from the very start. In contrast, the English troops were ably led by the ambitious and experienced Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, Regent of England.  The Scots were slaughtered, primary for their lack of cavalry.

It was estimated that 15,000 Scots were killed, and 1500-2000 were captured, whereas English fatalities amounted to only 500. However, the battle proved counter-productive for the English. The “rough wooing” of the infant Mary precipitated her marriage to the French Dauphin, dashing English hopes. Queen Mary was smuggled out of Scotland to France, where she would later marry Francis, Dauphin of France, in 1558.

The Battle at Pinkie Cleugh can be regarded as the first “modern” battle on British soil; featuring combined arms, co-operation between infantry, artillery and cavalry and, most remarkably, a naval bombardment in support of land forces.

Duke of Somerset                                  Duke of Chatellerault 

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