The Treaty of Greenwich, of July 1543, was about the marriage between Henry VIII’s son Prince Edward and the infant Mary, Queen of Scots pictured left. There was also a side venture to further tie the union between the two nations with a marriage between the Earl of Arran’s son and the Lady Elizabeth . Unfortunately the treaty was never ratified and by Christmas the treaty was like old newspaper – good for wrapping fish and chips but not much else.
1544 saw Henry VIII set about the “Rough Wooing.” Spring brings birds, flowers and invading armies – and so it was in April 1544. An English fleet sailed into Leith where it unloaded an army led by Sir Edward Seymour, at that time Earl of Hertford. They did what bad mannered invading armies tend to do with fire and sword. There was a slight interruption in the attempt to win Mary’s hand with violence due to pressing matters in France followed by a resumption of hostilities in the autumn.
Across the borders, Scots and English, nobility and ordinary men took the opportunity to attack their neighbours, steal their herds and generally do a spot of wholesale reiving. There was tooing and froing and a Scottish victory at Ancrum Moor in 1545.
There was a lull in proceedings with the death of Henry VIII in January 1547 but by the summer the Duke of Somerset as the Earl of Hertford had become had resumed hostilities on account of the fact that England was threatened by the alliance between Scotland and France especially as Francis I died and was replaced by the far more aggressive Henry II.
Somerset decided on a project of fortification and garrisoning – in both Scotland and across the Channel at Calais and Boulogne. This was an expensive option. Somerset arrived in Berwick with his army that summer and marched into the East March of Scotland in August with his army and the border levies – men well used to the cut and thrust of border skirmishes. There was the usual destruction, burning of homes and destruction of crops. In response the Scots who had been brawling amongst themselves united, if only temporarily, crossed the Esk and tried to prevent the English army from reaching Edinburgh. The two forces met at Pinkie on September 10 1547.
The Scottish army was bigger than the English but they didn’t have as many cavalry and quite a few Scots panicked when they met with artillery fire. There was the usual confusion of the battle field. The Scots retreated. It became a rout. Five hours laters the Scots were routed and ten thousand or so of them lay dead on the battle field.
Somerset got as far as Leith then changed his mind and hurried home on September 18- rather throwing the victory away. In part this was because Somerset’s brother Thomas who hadn’t been invited to the party was causing trouble back in London and in part it was because Somerset knew how close the country was to bankruptcy – armies are expensive commodities. It wasn’t long before the little Queen of Scots was shipped to France for safekeeping.