Anglo-Scottish War (1542–1549)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: England vs. Scotland
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Scotland
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: In continuation of longterm
conflict, England’s King Henry VIII attempted to
assert suzerainty over Scotland.
OUTCOME: Temporary occupation of Edinburgh, but no
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
England, 16,000; Scotland, 23,000
CASUALTIES: At the culminating Battle of Pinkie, 6,500
Scottish were killed, wounded, or captured; the English
suffered approximately 500 casualties.
TREATIES: None with Scotland; 1549 treaty between
France and England brought a de facto end to hostilities
in Scotland as well.
Henry VIII (1491–1547) of England attempted to arrange
a marital union that would, at last, unite England and
Scotland. These plans collapsed after Ireland offered its
crown to Scotland. Thus provoked, Henry renewed war
with Scotland by boldly declaring himself Scottish overlord.
He backed up this illegal claim with an invasion of
Cumberland, which culminated in the November 25,
1542, Battle of Solway Moss. Here a numerically superior
Scottish force attempted to defend against English
invaders. Poorly led and wracked by mutinies, the Scottish
were routed by the English. Broken in health, King James
V (1512–42) died very shortly after the disastrous defeat,
and the Scottish crown passed to his only child, Mary
In the meantime, Henry VIII’s army pressed on to
Edinburgh, storming it in 1544 and, in what the Scottish
called the “Rough Wooing,” sacked the town. Despite the
almost total destruction of Edinburgh, the Scottish refused
Henry VIII next attempted to strike a deal with Scottish
dissidents (1545), without success. A renewed invasion led
by Edward Seymour (c. 1500–52), duke of Somerset, followed.
Somerset’s 16,000 men were met by a 23,000-man
Scottish force led by Mary’s regent, James Hamilton
(1516–75), earl of Arran. The Battle of Pinkie was fought
at the River Esk on the Firth of Forth on September 10,
1547. Although substantially outnumbered, Somerset’s
force possessed better cavalry and artillery in addition to a
contingent of arquebusiers. Offshore, he was supported by
an English fleet under the command of Lord Edward Clinton
(1512–85). The result was a Scottish rout: while the
English lost perhaps 500 men, the Scottish suffered 6,500
casualties, including dead and wounded, and 1,500 prisoners
of war. Henry died four months later on January 28,
Although decisive, the English victory at Pinkie did
not result in the subjugation of Scotland as, once again,
the English lacked forces sufficient to occupy the country.
Henry’s son, Edward VI (1537–53), succeeded to the
throne, but real power passed to the old king’s brother-inlaw,
the duke of Somerset. As regent, Edward Seymour
proved neither far-sighted nor shrewd, and his many enemies
in the ruling elite blamed him, not Henry, for having
embroiled the country in a war with Scotland as well as
France (see ANGLO-FRENCH WAR [1542–1546]). He was
arrested and stripped of office in an October 1549 palace
coup, which effectively ended the hostilities for the
moment with Scotland. Seymour was executed two and a
half years later for treason.
See also ANGLO-SCOTTISH WAR (1513).
Further reading: David Ditchburn, Scotland and
Europe: The Medieval Kingdom and Its Contacts with Christendom,
c. 1214–1545 (East Linton, U.K.: Tuckwell, 2001);
Richard Glen Eaves, Henry VIII and James V’s Regency,
1524–1528: A Study in Anglo-Scottish Diplomacy (Lanham,
Md.: University Press of America, 1987); Rosalind Mitchison,
A History of Scotland, 3rd ed. (London and New York:
Routledge, 2002); Raymond Campbell Paterson, My
Wound Is Deep: A History of the Anglo-Scottish Wars (Edinburgh:
John Donald Publishers, 1997); Gervase Phillips,
The Anglo-Scottish Wars, 1513–1550 (Woodbridge, U.K.:
Boydell Press, 1999).