Military of Scotland - History Prior To The Union - Scottish Armies

Scottish Armies

Before the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in 1644, there was no standing army in the Kingdom of Scotland. In the Early Middle Ages war in Scotland was characterised by the use of small war-bands of household troops often engaging in raids and low level warfare. By the High Middle Ages, the kings of Scotland could command forces of tens of thousands of men for short periods as part of the "common army", mainly of poorly armoured spear and bowmen. After the "Davidian Revolution" of the 12th century, which introduced elements of feudalism to Scotland, these forces were augmented by small numbers of mounted and heavily armoured knights. These armies rarely managed to stand up to the usually larger and more professional armies produced by England, but they were used to good effect by Robert I of Scotland at Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 to secure Scottish independence. After the Wars of Scottish Independence, the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France played a large part in the country's military activities, especially during the Hundred Years' War. In the Late Middle Ages under the Stewart kings forces were further augmented by specialist troops, particularly men-at-arms and archers, hired by bonds of manrent, similar to English indentures of the same period. Archers became much sought after as mercenaries in French armies of the 15th century in order to help counter the English superiority in this arm, becoming a major element of the French royal guards as the Garde Écossaise. The Stewarts also adopted major innovations in continental warfare, such as longer pikes, the extensive use of artillery, and they built up a formidable navy. However, in the early 15th century one of the best armed and largest Scottish armies ever assembled still met with defeat at the hands of an English army at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513, which saw the destruction of a large number of ordinary troops, a large section of the nobility and the king James IV.

In 1650, part of the New Model Army invaded Scotland to fight Scottish Covenanters at the start of the Third English Civil War. The Covenanters, who had been allied to the English Parliament in the First English Civil War, had crowned Charles II as King of Scots. Despite being outnumbered, Oliver Cromwell led the Army to crushing victories over Charles's Scottish army commanded by David Leslie at the battles of Dunbar and Inverkeithing. Following the Scottish invasion of England led by Charles II, the New Model Army and local militia forces soundly defeated the Royalists at the Battle of Worcester, the last pitched battle of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. During the Interregnum, Scotland was kept under the military occupation of an English army under George Monck. They were kept busy throughout the 1650s by minor Royalist uprisings in the Scottish Highlands and by endemic lawlessness by bandits known as mosstroopers. Following Cromwell's death, the Restoration of Charles II saw the New Model Army kept as a standing force, and the King raised further regiments loyal to the Crown. On 26 January 1661 Charles II issued a Royal Warrant that created the genesis of what would become the British Army, although the Scottish and English Armies would remain two separate organisations until the unification of England and Scotland in 1707. At the time of the Union, the standing army of the Kingdom of Scotland consisted of seven units of Infantry, two of horse and one troop of Horse guards. The Crown still officially controls the use of the army. However the Claim of Right Act 1689 stated that: "that the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law...". Successive British governments were able to circumvent the intent of the Bill of Rights through annual continuation notices, and the technical legality of the British Army, in times of peace, still rests on these annual notices. A large standing army had come into existence by the time of the Napoleonic Wars; the British government of the day continues to command the British Armed Forces and both declares and wages wars.

Read more about this topic:  Military Of Scotland, History Prior To The Union

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