Musselburgh Field [Child 172]
DESCRIPTION: "Two goodly hosts" meet on Musselburgh Field. The Scots enter the battle confident, but are defeated heavily. The English narrator describes the contingents defeated
EARLIEST DATE: before 1750 (Percy folio)
KEYWORDS: battle nobility
Sep 10, 1547 - Battle of Pinkie (Pinkie Cleuch, Musselburgh). English armies defeat the Scots
FOUND IN: Britain
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Child 172 "Musselburgh Field" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Michael Brander, _Scottish and Border Battles and Ballads_, 1975 (page references to the 1993 Barnes & Noble edition), p. 84, "Musselburgh Field" (1 text)
NOTES [363 words]: The song claims that the battle of Pinkie was fought in "the fourth yeere of King Edwards raigne" -- but in fact 1547 was the first year of the reign of Edward VI (reigned 1547-1553). Other such errors occur in the song (e.g. the battle is dated to the twelfth of December, not the tenth of September); apparently the piece (which surely originated as a broadside) went through several stages of imperfect tradition.
(The other possibility is that it perhaps started as a song about some other Anglo-Scottish battle, and was imperfectly adapted, but the data in the song is hardly enough to reconstruct which.)
Pinkie was the final major ballad of the Anglo-Scottish border wars; by the time the Scots were fully recovered, Elizabeth was Queen of England and the Scottish monarchs were her heirs; James VI, in particular, was very careful not to offend Elizabeth.
Pinkie was the final battle of a long campaign between the English and Scots over the fate of the infant Queen Mary, who came to the throne at the age of eight days (1542) and instantly found herself a pawn in the contest between England and France.
In 1543, the English under Henry VIII pressured the Scots into negotiations, and the result was a draft treaty to wed Mary to Prince Edward (the future Edward VI). The Scottish parliament, however, rejected the treaty. There followed the so-called "Rough Wooing"; Henry sent in his armies in 1544 (burning Edinburgh) and 1545, but the latter was heavily defeated at Ancrum Moor.
A quiet period followed, with continued skirmishing but no big battles. That changed after Henry VIII died in 1547. Now, with Edward VI King of England, the desire to take over Scotland was even stronger.
The battle of Pinkie itself resulted when the English Lord Protector, the Duke of Somerset, let an English army in the direction of Edinborough. The Earl of Arran gathered a Scots army -- but, as was often the case, the Scottish army was not really a unified force, but a collection of individual armies; the English won an easy victory.
Pinkie scared the Scots, but did not convince them to marry their Queen to Edward; instead, they shipped her off to France the next year. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.0
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2019 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.