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Other Pages of Historical Interest
Battle of Pinkie Cleugh


Centuries of military struggle between Scotland and England have produced some epic contests, still seared into the folk memory of the two countries, from the humbling of English knighthood at the spear points of doughty Scots commoners at Bannockburn in 1314 to the death of Scotland's impetuous but chivalrous King James IV at Flodden in 1513. Among the multitude of other famous battles is one whose name is less readily recalled, fought outside Musselburgh on September 10, 1547.

Perhaps one reason why the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh (cleugh being a narrow glen or valley in Scots-Gaelic) has been all but forgotten is because its political consequences were so slight. England's ambitious Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, had come to Scotland to win a bride, at the point of a sword, for his young master, the 9-year-old King Edward VI. In that, however, he would fail--Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, was spirited away to France, dashing English hopes of a union of the two crowns.

Yet, in one respect, the battle was highly significant. Historians have tended to regard the British Isles as a military backwater in the 16th century, but a close examination of the campaign suggests that Pinkie Cleugh was the first "modern" battle on British soil--featuring combined arms, cooperation between infantry, artillery and cavalry and, most remarkably, a naval bombardment in support of land forces. Such an interpretation places Britain in the mainstream of military development 100 years earlier than is generally accepted.

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