Henry VIII’s vaunting ambition inspired one of the periodic revivals of the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France, much to Scotland’s detriment. Successive invasions of England in support of the French cause ended disastrously at Flodden Field (1513) and Solway Moss (1542). During the infancy of Mary, Queen of Scots, Henry continued to bully his northern neighbour via the ‘Rough Wooing’, culminating in the victory at Pinkie Cleugh (1547). The Scottish Reformation (1560) reset diplomacy, with the now ascendant Protestant nobility seeking a coalition of interest with the co-religionist English Crown rather than Catholic France. Mary, however, was Catholic, inspiring support from the largely unconverted Highlands and the Catholic earls of the English north, who rose against Elizabeth I (1569). Thereafter, Mary was imprisoned until her execution in 1587. Her son James, the future king of England, a Calvinist, discouraged the Kirk’s meddling in politics but supported educational reform, including the secularization of universities.
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