When Henry VIII launched a war against the recalcitrant Scots, who were on the verge of an alliance with the French, it was known as the ‘Rough Wooing’, and Pinkie Cleugh was the last pitched battle between the opposing sides. The Earl of Arran faced a dilemma. His Scots Army had lost most of its cavalry in a botched ambush the day before. His remaining force comprised mostly infantry armed with pikes, ideally suited to defence. But defence was not an option. His opponent, the Duke of Somerset commanded an amphibious invasion force, with 80 warships in the Firth of Forth ready to bombard the Scots left flank. If the Scots sat tight, they would be decimated. Boldly, Arran ordered an infantry charge. Startled, the English were driven back, and their heavy cavalry counterattack was bloodily repulsed by a pike wall bristling like an ‘angry hedgehog’. But then the English technological edge told. A furious naval bombardment scattered the Scots’ left flank, mounted Spanish ‘hackbutters’ rode round the stranded pikemen firing with arquebuses, and the superior English artillery had a plum target. Breaking into disorderly retreat, the Scots were first routed, then annihilated.
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