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Reign of Edward VI page 3

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To meet this invasion, Arran had sent the fire-cross from clan to clan through the Highlands, and had ordered every Scot capable of bearing arms to assemble at Musselburgh. The two armies now lay not much more than a couple of miles from each other. On the 9th the Scottish horse were seen parading themselves boldly on the eminence which lay betwixt the hosts, called Falside, or Fawside Brae. The two armies had the sea to the north, whilst Falside rose facing the west, betwixt them, and having on its summit a castellated keep, and a few huts. In the afternoon of that day, a body of English cavalry pricked forwards to dislodge the enemy, and succeeded, after a sharp skirmish, in which Lord Hume was severely injured by a fall from his horse, and his son and heir fell into the hands of the English.

The field being cleared of the skirmishers, Somerset, Warwick, and other of the officers, rode forward with a strong body of horse to take a view of the position of the Scottish army. On reaching the eminence, they saw it lying, its white tents gleaming in the setting sun, an a very advantageous ground, betwixt the River Esk and the sea, the right flank strongly defended by a deep, swampy ground. The bridge over the Esk was strongly guarded with cannon, and again, in front of the bridge, they had posted an advanced guard of musketeers, or hackbutters, furnished with a couple of pieces of ordnance. Betwixt Fawside, on which the reconnoitres were, and the front of the Scottish army, rose a small insulated eminence, crowned with the parish church of St. Michael's, of Inveresk. Somerset and his attendants rode on to that spot, though it y/as not more than a couple of arrow-shots from -the Scottish lines, from which they were saluted by many shots, and one of the soldiers had his horse killed under him. On their return they were overtaken by a herald and a trumpeter. The herald brought from Arran a proffer of fair conditions of peace, and the trumpeter a challenge from Lord Huntly to Somerset. Somerset replied that he desired no peace but such as his sword should win, and as to the challenge, he bade the herald tell his master that he was entrusted with too precious a charge, the person of a king, to risk a personal conflict; but that if the Scots would meet them in the field, they should have fighting enough. "Warwick was not so cautious, but begged earnestly, though in vain, to be permitted to accept the defiance.

Somerset and Warwick resolved to occupy the height on which stood St. Michael's Church, and for this purpose, early on the following morning, long called "Black Saturday'' in Scotland, they advanced upon it about eight o'clock. But the Scots had also concluded to advance, and on the English approaching the first height, they were astonished to find that the Scots had quitted their strong position beyond the river, and were occupying the ground they had intended for themselves. It seems that the Scots had somehow got the idea that the English meant to retreat and escape them, and to prevent this, they determined to surprise them in their camp, and were on the way for this purpose. At the sight of the English the Scotch pushed forward impetuously, hoping to get possession of Fawside Brae, but they were checked by a sharp discharge of artillery from the admiral's galley, which mowed down about thirty of them, as they defiled over the bridge near the sea. Seeing the English posted on the height with several pieces of artillery, the Scotch halted in a fallow field, having in their front a deep ditch. The English, however, reckless of this obstacle, dashed on, and, with Lord Gray at their head, made their way up to them. But here they encountered one of those serried phalanxes which Patten, an eye-witness, describes very graphically: - "In their array towards the joining with the enemy, they cling and thrust to war in the fore-rank, shoulder to shoulder together, with their pikes in both hands straight before them, and their followers in that order to hand at their backs, laying their pikes over their foregoers' shoulders, that if they do assail undissevered, no force can well withstand them. Standing at defence, the fore-ranks, well nigh to kneeling, stoop low before their fellows behind, the one end of the pike against their right foot, the other against the enemy, head high, their followers crossing their pike-points with their fore-ward, and thus each other so nigh as time and place will suffer, that as easily shall a bare finger pierce the skin of an angry hedgehog, as any encounter the point of their pikes."

Standing in such an almost impenetrable mass, the Scots kept crying, "Come here, louns! come here, tykes! come here, heretics!" and the like, and the English charging upon them, seemed for a moment to have disconcerted them, but soon were fain to turn and retreat. The flight became general, and the Scots rushing on. expected to reap an easy victory. Lord Gray himself was severely wounded in the mouth, and the Scottish soldiers pressing on seized the Royal standard, when a desperate struggle ensued, and the staff of the standard being broken, part of it remained in the hands of the enemy, but the standard itself was rescued.

The fight now became general and fierce, and there was a hand-to-hand contest, which many fell on both sides; but the English commanders were men proved in many a great battle, and exerted themselves to restore order amongst their troops. Warwick was seen everywhere encouraging, ordering, and ranking his men afresh: whilst the artillery from the height, directed over the heads of their own regiments, mowed down the assailing Scots. The ardour of the soldiers restored, advantage was taken of the position of a large body of the enemy, which, in their impetuosity, had rushed forward beyond the support of the main army. They were surrounded and attacked on all sides. Confounded by this unexpected occurrence, the Scots were thrown into confusion, and began to take to flight. Arran himself soon put spurs to his horse; Angus followed, and the Highland clans - who had never been engaged - fled en masse. "Therewith then turned all the whole rout," says Patten; "cast down their weapons, ran out of their wards, off with their jacks, and with all that ever they might, betook them to the race that their governor began. Our men, with a universal cry of 'They fly! they fly!' pursued after in chase amain, and thereto so eagerly, and with such fierceness, that they overtook many, and spared, indeed, but few. But when they were once turned, it was a wonder indeed to see how soon, and in how sundry sorts, they were scattered. The place they stood on, like a wood of staves strewed on the ground as rushes in a chamber, impassable, they lay so thick, for either horse or man. Here, at the first, had they let fall all their pikes; after that everywhere scattered swords, bucklers, daggers, jacks, and all things else that either was of any weight, or might be any let to their course."

The rout was general, and the slaughter terrible, some making off for Leith, some direct for Edinburgh by fields or woods as they could, and others endeavoured to cross the marsh and reach Dalkeith. The English horse pursued them wherever they could follow; and the description of Patten may show how mercilessly Somerset repeated the bloody practices of his campaigns under Henry's fell orders. "Some lay flat in a furrow as though they were dead, thereby past by of our men untouched; as I heard say, the Earl of Angus confessed he crouched till his horse happened to be brought him. Other some to stay in the river lowering down his body, his head under the root of a willow tree, with scarce his nose above water for breath. A shift but no succour it was to many that had their sculls on, at the stroke of the follower, to shrink with their heads into their shoulders, like a tortoise into his shell. Others again, for their more lightness, cast away shoes and doublets, and ran in their shirts; and some also seen in this race all breathless to fall flat down, and have run themselves to death. Soon began a pitiful sight of the dead corpses lying dispersed abroad; some their legs off, some but houghed, and left lying half dead, some thrust quite through the body, others the arms cut off, divers their necks half asunder, many their heads cloven, of sundry the brains pushed out, some others again their heads quite off, with other thousand kinds of killing. And thus, with blood and slaughter of the enemy, this chase was continued five miles in length westward from the place of their standing, which was on the fallow fields of Underesk, until Edinburgh Park, and well nigh to the gates of the town itself, and unto Leith; and in breadth nigh four miles from the Erith sands, up towards Dalkeith southward. In all which space, the dead bodies lay as thick as a man may note cattle grazing, in a full replenished pasture. The river all ran red with blood, so that in the same chase were counted, as well by some of our men that somewhat diligently did mark it, as by some of them taken prisoners, that very much did lament it, to have been slain above 13,000. In all this compass of ground, what with weapons, arms, hands, legs, heads, blood, and dead bodies, their flight might easily have been traced to every of their three refuges. And for the smallness of our number, and shortness of the time, which was scant five hours, from one till nigh six, the mortality was so great, as it was thought the like aforetime not to have been seen."

Great numbers of men of rank and station were slain as well as of the commonalty, and only 1,500 prisoners made. When the wretched fugitives who had escaped had got into Edinburgh or some other retreat, the heart of Somerset professed to feel pity, and he called back his troops to plunder the Scottish camp. They seem to have found plenty of provisions, and in the tents of the chief officers good wine and some silver plate. They stripped naked the bodies of the slain over all the space where they fell, and of coats of mail and other armour and arms more than 30,000 pieces. They found thirty pieces of ordnance, and amongst the prisoners taken was the Earl of Huntly, lord chancellor of the kingdom, who had sent the challenge to Somerset; the Masters of Buchan, Erskine, and Graham, the Scottish historians assert to have been put to death in cold blood, after having surrendered on promise of quarter. The battle became named the battle of Pinkie, from Pinkie, or Pinkencleugh, an eminence near it.

The army rested in its camp the next day, and on the following morning, Sunday, September the 11th, it advanced to Leith. From that point the fleet sailed up the Forth, destroying all the vessels in it, and ravaging and laying waste the towns and country on its banks. The Isle of Inchcolm, the town of Kinghorn, and numbers of villages were plundered and burnt. Leith was set on fire by Somerset, and the gentry, subdued by their terrors, came in from all the country round and made their submission.

Now, then, was the time to push the object for which this expedition was undertaken. - the securing the young queen for the king. Somerset had attained a commanding position. He held the capital, as it were, under his hand, and fresh forces brought up and judiciously employed, must have put the country so far into his power as to enable him to treat on the most advantageous terms for the accomplishment of this great national object; or if he could not obtain it by treaty, he might make himself master of her person by arms. But all this demonstration, this signal victory, this sanguinary butchery, which must add finally to the antipathy of the Scottish people if no great good followed it, was abandoned with a strange recklessness which showed that though Somerset could conquer in the field, he was totally destitute of the qualities of a statesman. Instead of making his success the platform of wise negotiation, and of a great national union, he converted it into a fresh aggravation of the ill-will of the Scotch, by depriving it of all rational result. Being, it is supposed, apprised of some machinations of his brother, the admiral, in his absence, he commenced an instant march homeward, like a man that was beaten rather than a victor. On the 17th of September, only a week and one day from the battle of Pinkie, he took his departure. The Scotch were amazed at a flight as sudden as the onslaught had been deadly. As he marched from Leith, whose flames were mounting redly into the sky behind him, the commander of Edinburgh Castle fired twenty-four pieces of ordnance at him, but too far off to reach him. He had dispatched Clinton with a part of the fleet to awe the coasts of Scotland, and to reduce the castle of Broughty at the mouth of the Tay, which was the key to that river and to the towns of Perth and Dundee, which he soon effected. But whilst victory was disposed to settle on the banners of Somerset wherever displayed, he himself was making all speed homewards. On the 19th he reached Hume Castle, which Lady Hume consented to surrender on being allowed to retire with the garrison, and whatever they could carry with them. He halted also a few days at Roxburgh, where he threw up some fortifications amid the ruins of the old castle, and having received the submission of the neighbouring country, on the 29th he crossed the Tweed. All this time he was followed by Arran with a body of horse, whom he did not attempt to check or chastise, and on entering England, he made the best of his way to London, the whole term of his absence having been only about six weeks.

Somerset entered the capital like a great conqueror. The mayor and corporation met him in their robes in Finsbury, and accompanied him as far as the Pound in Smithfield, where they parted, and he went on that night to his house at Sheen, and the next day to the king at Hampton Court. Edward received him joyfully, and made him an additional grant of lands to the value of £500 a year; in other words, Somerset awarded these to himself. A Parliament was then summoned, and the Protector proceeded to carry forward the contemplated reform in the Church, now that he was covered with useless, and worse, most mischievous military honours, as the country was soon to learn.

If Henry VIII. could now have seen the proceedings of his son and his ministers, the astonishment of his soul must have been great. Those very men, at least the majority of them, who had been the obsequious creatures; of his will, had already cut away the whole plan of civil government as fixed by himself, and they now proceeded to sweep off those religious rites and ceremonies, of which he had been still more tenacious, and for the slightest contempt of which he had put numbers to death. During his lifetime, and under his own eyes, they had deceived him by educating his heir in a deep and conscientious persuasion that the system of worship which he so rigorously upheld was utterly idolatrous. Cranmer, the prelate, in whom he had most faith, who trembled and dissembled before him, now, as Burnet says, “being delivered from that too awful subjection that he had been held under by King Henry, resolved to go on more vigorously in purging out abuses." But though both the young king and the protector went fully along with him there was a powerful party still, alike amongst the peers and the prelates and the people, who were strongly attached to the old religion. The Princess Mary was a resolute Papist, and she was the heir-apparent to the throne. Her religion, derived from her mother, and her Spanish blood and predilections, had been deeply ingrained into her nature by the ill-usage of her mother, and the rude attempts to compel her to abandon her first faith. Tunstall, Bishop of Durham, Gardiner of Winchester, Bonner of London, - and several of the other prelates were stanch supporters of the Roman Church. The people, as had already been seen in the Pilgrimage of Faith, remained in vast masses rooted in attachment to their old rites, usages, and authorities. It required, therefore, not only resolution, but caution mixed with it, to introduce the new plans.

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