ANYONE with a decent knowledge of Scottish history will have heard the term “Rough Wooing” and will know that it refers to the 16th-century invasion of Scotland by an English army. How that came about is the principal subject of today’s column and next week I will show how that infamous period that included the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh changed Scotland forever.

Today’s column features the remarkable Henry VIII, perhaps the most famous King of England. If you want to prove how Scotland’s history has always been inferior in our education system, just try my test – ask any Scot you know how many wives did Henry VIII have and they will invariably say ‘six’ straight off the bat. Then ask them how many husbands did Mary, Queen of Scots, have and maybe after a period of thought the respondent may say two or the correct answer which is three.

It’s one way of showing how we Scots often know more about English history – dressed up as British, of course – than the history of Scotland, but no doubt Unionists will dismiss that as irrelevant. Except that it’s not, as don’t forget that Theresa May’s Government threatened to use “Henry VIII powers” to change legislation.

Here’s what the Parliament website states: “Henry VIII clauses are clauses in a bill that enable ministers to amend or repeal provisions in an Act of Parliament using secondary legislation, which is subject to varying degrees of parliamentary scrutiny. The Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee pays particular attention to any proposal in a bill to use a Henry VIII clause because of the way it shifts power to the executive.

“The expression is a reference to King Henry VIII’s supposed preference for legislating directly by proclamation rather than through Parliament.”

They date from 1539, some 168 years before the Union, at time when Scotland was beholden to no-one.

I have been trying recently to show how Scotland truly was independent for centuries before the Acts of Union in 1707, and the Rough Wooing is important in that respect as it was the last major invasion of Scotland by England before the Union of the Crowns in 1603 – Scotland was of course invaded and conquered by Oliver Cromwell in 1650, the last major incursion into Scotland by an English army before the Acts of Union.

Let me deal briefly with the 15th century English invasions of Scotland, starting with Henry IV’s bizarre attempt to show that England was still Scotland’s overlord in 1400. Partly in retaliation for a Scottish raid into England and partly because George Dunbar, the Earl of March, was furious at the failure of the agreement to marry his daughter to Prince David, heir to the Scottish throne – he married Mary, daughter of Dunbar’s great rival the Earl of Douglas instead – King Henry IV decided to invade Scotland with a massive army, including Dunbar who was one of Scotland’s major military commanders.

The earl had promised his loyalty to Henry, but the King was not interested in a coup – he was really intent on just showing the Scots his power and strength. The Scottish forces did not muster to meet the invaders in battle so the English forces marched as far as the Lothians and then went home leaving the Scots puzzled as to why they had bothered. It was the last time that a King of England personally led an army into Scotland.

Preoccupied with warring with France and then the Wars of the Roses, England mainly left Scotland alone for most of the 15th century, despite numerous cross-border raids by the “Reivers” whose quarry was mainly booty rather than conquest.

Perpetual peace between Scotland and England appeared to be on the cards when King James III negotiated a marriage between his son, the future James IV, and Princess Cecily, the daughter of Edward IV. But by 1479, James was hugely unpopular, not least because of his flirtation with the Auld Enemy, and he also had a serious challenger to his rule in the person of his brother, Alexander Stewart, the Duke of Albany, who James besieged in Dunbar Castle – fratricide was on his mind.

Fleeing to France, Albany waited until the nobles of Scotland eventually rose against James after the king had broken the marriage treaty – only after pocketing the massive dowry for Cecily – which made war with England just a matter of time.

In 1482, Albany went to Edward IV and promised that he would do homage to him if he could overthrow James – whether or not he wanted to take the Scottish throne for himself is still a point of argument among historians. He also promised to cede Berwick-upon-Tweed to England and agreed to all this in the Treaty of Fotheringhay. In July, 1482, Edward IV sent his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the future Richard III, north to Scotland with a huge army.

As related in an earlier column about James III, the king had surrounded himself with “familiars” rather than the usual court nobles, and when they saw the massive army facing them, the nobles met at Lauder and sent Archibald, Earl of Angus, to tell the king that he had to get rid of the familiars – the young Earl thus earned nickname “Bell-the-Cat”.

When James refused, the nobles grabbed half-a-dozen of the familiars and hanged them from a bridge over the Leader Water – the so-called Lauder lynchings.

Gloucester was allowed to march unopposed to Edinburgh where James was now a prisoner in the Castle. The English were not equipped for a siege, and Gloucester eventually went home with the promise of repayment of the Cecily dowry. He paused only to capture Berwick which has been part of England ever since, even if the local football club plays in the Scottish league.

IN 1513, King James IV led an invasion into England in support of our auld ally France, and paid for his chivalric gesture with his life and that of thousands of Scots at Flodden Field.

Henry VIII had been on the throne for just over four years and the 22-year-old king, who was James’s brother-in-law, was away fighting in France when Flodden took place.

In 1534, Henry broke with Rome and appointed himself head of the Church of England. The Protestant Reformation was very much an English thing at that time as King James V of Scotland wanted no part of it, but most historians now agree that the religious dispute between the two kings made war inevitable due to the complex weave of alliances in Europe at that time.

That James married two Frenchwomen in succession, the second being the formidable Mary of Guise, only increased Henry’s worries about a Franco-Scottish Catholic alliance against him.

War came in 1542, after years of raid and counter-raid across the Border. The trigger was James’s refusal to meet Henry at York to discuss a religious settlement between the two countries.

Henry was too corpulent and ill to go on campaign himself, but he was anxious to compel Scotland to join his reformed faith and pay homage to him and so he sent an army into Scotland.

The English force of about 3,000 troops harried the Border lands but were soundly defeated by a smaller Scottish force in the Battle of Hadden Rig in August, 1542. The threat of English invasion was still there, however, and in October a huge English army came north, burning Kelso Abbey as it went – Henry had no qualms about devastating “Popish” property.

Henry declared war and demanded that the Scots give him homage as their overlord. Now there really was an existential threat to an independent Scotland and James responded by gathering his own massive army which marched south under the command of the capable Lord Maxwell.

Disaster ensued, however.

The Battle of Solway Moss on November 24, 1542, was one of the greatest humiliations in Scottish military history.

Choosing his position wrongly, Maxwell began to cross the Moss and was promptly ambushed by the English army which trapped the Scots up against the River Esk.

Casualty reports varied but the Scots nobility certainly surrendered after a short time, realising the hopelessness of their position, or, as some historians claim, anxious to throw in their lot with the Protestant cause. That seems more probable as they were soon released and paid money by Henry to form a pro-Protestant, pro-English party at the Scottish court.

James was now very unwell, possibly with cholera or dysentery contracted while on the march. He took to his bed in Falkland Palace in Fife and it was there that he was told that Mary of Guise had given birth.

The chronicler Robert Lindsay of Pittscottie records that “the messenger said ‘it was ane fair douchter.’ The king said. ‘Adew, fair weill, it come with ane lase, it will pase with ane lase,’ (his prophecy of the end of the Stewart line) and so he recommendit himself to the marcie of Almightie god and spak ane lyttill then frome that tyme fourtht, bot turnit his bak into his lordis and his face into the wall.”

At the age of 30, James was dead and Mary was Queen when just a few days old. Her nobles immediately began fighting among themselves as to who would control Scotland.

Cardinal David Beaton briefly became Chancellor of Scotland but it was the Earl of Arran who became Regent and he and Henry VIII began to negotiate a marriage for Mary to Henry’s son Edward. But Henry wanted too much – the end of the Auld Alliance, several castles to be surrendered to him and Mary to be brought up in England.

It was too much for the Scots, and thus the Rough Wooing began. Henry took no part himself in the long years of the campaign by England to effectively annexe Scotland in the 1540s and early 1550s.

Arran joined the Catholic faction around Mary of Guise and while he was still regent, Beaton and Mary of Guise were the powers in the land.

It was Sir Walter Scot who coined the term Rough Wooing but that name disguises the fact that it was an Anglo-Scottish war which, had England prevailed, would have seen Scotland remain as a country but subsumed into an English empire – sound familiar?

In 1544, a huge English army under the Earl of Hertford attacked the Scottish Borders, the Lothians and Edinburgh. It compelled some of the nobles, notably the Earl of Lennox, to submit to Henry, but he was not satisfied and ordered a further invasion the following year, but on February 27, 1545, the Earl of Angus won a brilliant victory over a far superior English army at the Battle of Ancrum Moor.

Hertford and the Earl of Lennox led the retaliation in the autumn of that year, laying waste to most of southern Scotland. Hertford’s tactics were simple – he would starve the Scots and destroyed that year’s harvest.

The following May, Cardinal Beaton was assassinated after he burned the Protestant preacher George Wishart for heresy. The English assaults briefly stopped when Henry VIII died in January, 1547, but the English court still wanted young Prince Edward married to Mary, Queen of Scots, and were aghast at the proposal for Mary to marry the French Dauphin Francis.

Hertford was now the Duke of Somerset and was the English commander when their army came north and won a quite devastating victory at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh. We’ll learn about that next week.