The bloody fight for the hand of Mary, Queen of Scots
When James V of Scots died suddenly in 1542, he left a baby daughter as his heir. The heirs to throne of both England and France vied for her hand in marriage. Such a wedding would unit the crowns... Henry VIII was determined that Mary, Queen of Scots, must marry his son. But the Scots rejected his proposals, and the king was mad with rage.

In September 1547, with Henry gone and the young Edward VI wearing the crown, the king's uncle Somerset led a powerful English army across the border to bring about the betrothal. But James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, raised a massive Scottish army to resist him. Putting aside the divisions of the Reformation, the Scots rallied to block the road to their capital near Musselburgh. Their position was strong. But when they saw Somerset intended to bombard them from Inveresk, they decided to attack.

The English were initially caught out by the sudden Scottish advance, and they threw their heavy cavalry forward to slow the attack down. It was costly, but it worked. Disordered and immobile in a ploughed and boggy field, the Scottish pike blocks were now at the mercy of the arrows, hakbutts and cannons of their adversaries. Eventually they could endure it no more and they broke to flee the slaughter. Thousands perished as the English cavalry exacted a bloody revenge.

But Somerset's victory proved to be vain. Rather than give up the infant queen to England, Arran sent Mary to France and she later married the Dauphin. The bitter and bloody three-way war which now devastated the south of Scotland became increasingly futile once the Queen was overseas, and eventually the English accepted their strategy had failed.

Mary would later return to Scotland to rule in her own right, until a succession of further failed marriages led to her downfall.
16-17 September 2017
Newhailes Estate (NTS), Musselburgh

It was a truly memorable weekend, the torrential rainstorm adding great drama to the battle on Saturday, and the sunshine bringing smiles thereafter!
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  2. Managing Director