Civil Wars in Scotland—Tudor/Stuart Era

1513 to 1679
Clans, Catholics, Coventanters — versus — Parliament, Protestants, Presbyterians

War of the Holy League and Flodden Field, 1513
Betrothal of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1542-1547
Huntly Rebellions, and Stuart Family Wars, 1562-1594
Clan Macgregor, 1604,   Covenanter Wars , 1666-1679,

James IV: War of the Holy League and Flodden Field : 1513

Flodden Field
In 1512 Henry VIII of England, who had not yet broken with Rome, joined the Papal states in declaring war on France. His practical motivation for doing so was as an excuse to attack France at a time when she was fighting other enemies in the south, in hopes of winning more territory in the north. France however, had a long-standing agreement with Scotland that if she should be attacked by England, Scotland would attack England in the North, thus dividing her army. The Battle of Flodden Field, which proved to be an utter disaster for Scotland, was initiated therefore, as a result of a conflict that had absolutely nothing to do with Scotland. James IV was killed, along with many Scottish nobles, and the Scotland was greatly weakened because of it.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Flodden (First ) English victory
Fought September 9, 1513, when the English, under the Earl of Surrey, attacked the Scots, under James IV, in a strong position on the hill of Flodden. The position was turned by the English left wing, under Stanley, and the Scots totally defeated with heavy losses. James and all his principal nobles fell.

Short Biography
James IV Strong and effective ruler of Scotland. Brought the Barons under control. Died at Flodden Field.

Story Links
Book Links
James IV and the Battle of Flodden  in  Cambridge Historical Reader—Primary  by  Cambridge Press
Flodden Field  in  Stories From English History, Part Second  by  Alfred J. Church
James IV.—The Story of a Great Sea Fight  in  Scotland's Story  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
James IV.—Flodden Field  in  Scotland's Story  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall

James V: Betrothal of Mary, Queen of Scots : 1542-1547

When Henry VIII broke with Rome, he sought to persuade his nephew James V to break also, but James refused. For this and other reasons, Henry sent a raiding party into Scotland, and Scotland retaliated. The Scottish campaign of Solway Moss, however, turned into another route, and Scotland was again humiliated. James V died two weeks later, leaving a one week old daughter, Mary Stuart, as Queen of Scotland. The immediate object of England was now to to assume control of Scotland by betrothing Mary to Edward, the son of Henry VIII. With this mission mind, England tried persuasion, bribery, and finally force, to arrange a betrothal. The issue help open up a rift that was forming in Scotland between those barons that were loyal to Rome, and those that were sympathetic to the Protestant cause. In the end, England won a great battle against Scotland, and was in a position to dictate terms, but Scotland refused to be imposed upon, and smuggled the young princess to France. This series of wars is sometimes called the "Rough Wooing".

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Solway Moss (Betrothal of Mary ) English victory
Fought December 14, 1542, between the Scottish invading army, under Oliver Sinclair, and a band of 500 English borderers, under Thomas Dacre and John Musgrave. The Scots were totally defeated, and many important nobles captured.
Battle of Ancrum Moor (Betrothal of Mary ) Scots victory
Fought February 17, 1545, between the English under Sir Ralph Evans, and the Scots under the Earl of Angus. The Borderers who had joined the English deserted during the action, with the result that the Scots were completely victorious.
Battle of Pinkie Cleugh (Clan MacGregor ) English victory
Fought September, 1547, between the Scots, under the Earl of Huntly, and the English, under the Protector Somerset. The Scots crossed the Esk, and attacked the English lines, at first with success, but they were thrown into confusion by a charge of cavalry, and in the end fled from the field with heavy loss.

Short Biography
James V Father of Mary Stuart. He was defeated in battle and died shortly after Mary was born.
Duke of Somerset Regent for Edward VI who imposed the Book of Common Prayer on all of England.

Story Links
Book Links
Mary's Childhood  in  Mary Queen of Scots  by  Jacob Abbott
Mary Queen of Scots—France  in  Scotland's Story  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall

Mary I: Huntly Rebellions, and Stuart Family Wars : 1562-1594

Huntly Rebellion
The reign of Mary, Queen of Scots corresponded to the opening of a rift between Protestant and Catholic nobility in Scotland. In reality, the rift was just as much about political power and property as it was religion. As a result, the alliances are difficult to follow, the conflicts were not along purely religious lines, and the whole era was bound up with a great deal of intrigue, murder, and general treachery. The Royal family itself became split during the course of the struggles, with brother vs. sister, and husband vs. wife on opposite sides. Nevertheless, we will attempt to summarize briefly as follows:

The Huntly family had been long time supporters of the Stuarts, and were powerful statesmen within the Scottish nobility, but a rift occurred when Mary transferred an Earldom from the Huntly family to her half-brother. A battle ensued in which the (4th) Earl of Huntly was killed. Huntly's son, the new (5th) Earl of Huntly then repaired his relationship with the Queen, and was one of the primary conspirators with Bothwell to rid her of her husband Darnley a few years later. The murder of Darnley and marriage of Mary to Bothwell caused an enormous scandal and another battle, this time between Mary and her half-brother, who was regent for her infant son James. After loosing the battle of Langside, Mary was forced to flee Scotland.

For the next generation, the Huntly family stayed on Good terms with the Stuarts, and the 6th Earl of Huntly was a good friend of James IV. However, Huntly's loyalty to the Catholic faith eventually got him into trouble with the Protestant Stuarts, and like his Grandfather, he rose in rebellion. The Huntly rebels were victorious over the royals, but in order to bring about reconciliation, Huntly eventually renounced his Catholicism and submitted to the state church.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Corrichie (Huntly's Rebellion ) Royalists victory
Fought 1562, between the troops of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Scottish rebels under the Earl of Huntly. The rebels, whose forces had been greatly reduced by desertions, were totally defeated, and Huntly slain.
Battle of Langside (War of the Holy League ) Rebels victory
Fought May 13, 1568, when the army of Mary Queen of Scots, 6,000 strong, was defeated and dispersed by the forces of the Regent, Murray. The Queen's troops were broken by a cavalry charge, in which they lost 300, while only one man of the victorious horse was killed, and fled in confusion from the field. Mary escaped to England.
Battle of Glenlivet (Huntly's Rebellion ) Rebels victory
Fought October 4, 1594, between the troops of James VI, 10,000 strong, under the Earl of Argyll, and the rebel Earls of Errol and Huntly. Though inferior in numbers, the rebels gained a complete victory, driving off the royal troops with a loss of 500 men.

Short Biography
Mary Stuart Queen of Scotland. Deposed and exiled. Held captive and executed by Queen Elizabeth.
Earl of Huntley Long time supporter of the Stuart family who rebelled against them.
James Stewart, Earl of Moray Half-brother of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was regent for her infant son.
James I First Stuart king of England. Intelligent and competent, but unable to work effectively with Parliament.

Story Links
Book Links

Book Links
Mary Queen of Scots  by  Jacob Abbott

James VI : Clan Macgregor : 1604

Glen Fruin was a good example of the deadly clan warfare, for which Scotland is famous. The famous battle between two rival clans, the Macgregors and the Colquhouns was a notorious bloodbath, exceptionally violent even for a Scottish clan war. The Macgregors were an ancient clan that had lost most of its land and supported itself by cattle rustling, and it had long standing conflicts with several other clans in the region. They nearly annihilated their opponents, the Colquhouns, who had the backing of King James VI at the time, and as a result the Macgregors were "outlawed" for nearly 200 years. Any member who did not change his name, scatter, and remove to a different territory was hunted down and killed.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Glen Fruin (Covenanter Wars ) Rebels victory
Fought 1604, between the royal troops under the Duke of Argyll, and the Macgregors and other clans, when the Highlanders gained a complete victory.

Story Links
Book Links

Charles II: Covenanter Wars : 1666-1679

Covenanter Wars
The Covenanter movement, which had both political and religious aspects, was an important force in Scotland during the English Civil War and during the Commonwealth period. For the most part, they had been allies of the Puritan party, and their position changed considerable after the restoration, when the Royalist party was again in control.

The parliamentary government in England had allowed the Scots, not only freedom of worship but also a great deal of leeway in the manner in which their clerics controlled the Scottish parliament. After the restoration, the government tried to reimpose Episcopacy, a move which was popular with many nobles, but not with the die-hard Presbyterians. A resistance movement broke out in certain regions, many clerics resigned their posts, and local parishioners met in open air meetings rather than attend the Anglican approved services. The rebellion broke into arm conflicts at two points, once in 1666, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, and once in 1679 when an "illegal" conventicle turned into an armed uprising. In both cases the Royalist government tried to conciliate the dissenters in the years following the uprisings, rather than to crush the movement altogether, and had some success.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Rullion Green (Covenanter Wars ) English victory
Fought November, 1666, between the Covenanters, under Colonel Wallace, and the Royal troops, under General Dalziel. The Covenanters were defeated.
Battle of Drumclog (Huntly's Rebellion ) Scots victory
Fought June 11, 1679, when a party of Covenanters, under Balfour of Burleigh, defeated the royal troops, under Claverhouse.
Battle of Bothwell Bridge (Covenanter Wars ) English victory
Fought June 22, 1679, when the Royal troops, under the Duke of Monmouth, defeated the Covenanters with great slaughter.

Story Links
Book Links
Charles II.—The Church among the Hills  in  Scotland's Story  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall

Image Links

The Battle of Flodden
 in The Chantry Priest of Barnet