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‘rough wooing’

‘rough wooing’, 1544–8. The birth of Mary, queen of Scots, in December 1542, only a week after her father's death, seemed an ideal opportunity to unite the thrones of England and Scotland. Prince Edward, Henry VIII's heir, was 5 years old and the English pressed for a marriage agreement. By the treaty of Greenwich in July 1543 Mary was to be betrothed before she was 10 and thereafter brought up in England. When the Scottish Parliament in December 1543 rejected the treaty, preferring to stay with the French alliance, Henry retorted with a punitive expedition led by Lord Hertford (Somerset), devastating the south-east border—ironically dubbed the ‘rough wooing’. The Scots split and rival parliaments were summoned at Edinburgh and Stirling. A second expedition in 1545 devastated Melrose but the Scottish victory at Ancrum Moor in February put heart into the resistance and Hertford led another raid at harvest-time. In September 1547, after Henry's death, Hertford, now Protector Somerset, led an army to victory at Pinkie Cleugh, but consolidation proved hard. The Scottish reply, by the treaty of Haddington, was to accept a proposed marriage between Mary and the dauphin and she was taken to France in July 1548. With justice, Henry's policy has been described as ‘never very sophisticated’ and ‘incredibly stupid as well as brutal’.

J. A. Cannon

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