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Scotland, England and the French Connection, 1369-1403

Alastair J. MacDonald

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Subject: Scottish History
demy octavo
Illustrated – 12 page b/w section
178 pages
ISBN: 1 86232 145 0
Paperback, £9.99

Subject: Scottish History
ISBN: 1 86232 106 X
282 pages
Paperback £16.99
April 2000

Scottish military offensives against England from 1369 were largely the product of government policy, and involved the participation of much of the political community of the realm. They were launched with careful timing, taking account of international developments and domestic problems in England. In the reign of Robert II they involved close co-operation with France and succeeded militarily, enabling the Scots to regain English-occupied lands in southern Scotland and achieve diplomatic gains. Military success encouraged the Scots to the point where they were willing to engage in attacks on England beyond the ambition of their French allies. However, diplomatic gains fell well short of forcing English recognition of Scottish independence. Hopes of achieving this by military means were ended in the reign of Robert III when the Scots were heavily defeated in 1402.

There is no sign that the impact of war in these years led to the development of a distinctive set of attitudes and mode of social behaviour among the Scottish borderers. In contract to the English borders, where such features can be discerned throughout the fourteenth century, fugitive national loyalties, excess criminality and their possible causes cannot readily be discerned until the early fifteenth century.

War was not fought with only political objectives in mind or other ‘rational’ factors such as the quest for financial gain. The Scots went to war, and their leaders organised it, for emotive reasons also, such as hatred of the English, the search for renown, and the sheer enjoyment of fighting. All these factors inspired the Scots to launch a series of bloody, brutal and ultimately futile offensives against England.

Author: Alistair J Macdonald is lecturer in Scottish History at the University of Aberdeen.