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"Scots in Bosworth?" Topic

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10 Nov 2019 2:53 p.m. PST
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Paskal Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2019 1:55 a.m. PST

Hello All,

If there were Scots at Bosworth, what was it? What size, what type of troops, what origins, what clothes, etc.

Thank you for your help.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2019 3:18 a.m. PST

All here:

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2019 3:27 a.m. PST

John Mair, writing thirty-five years after the battle, claimed that the number of scots was significant, and that this claim is accepted by some modern writers, but Mackie reasons that the French would not have released their elite Scottish knights and archers, and concludes that there were probably few scots in the Tudor army, but he accepted the presence of captains like Bernard Stewart, Lord of Aubigny.

Nothing more ?

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2019 3:33 a.m. PST

The article linked covers most everything pertinent.

GurKhan10 Nov 2019 3:36 a.m. PST

No strictly contemporary source mentions them, but the Scots chronicler John Major (Mair) in the 1520s says there were 1,000 Scots present at Bosworth under John son of Robert of Haddington; and the later 16th century chronicler Pitscottie says 1,000 men-at-arms "called the Scottish company which had to their captain a noble knight which was called Sir Alexander Bruce of Ershall" and a man of Haddington. Certainly Bruce of Erlshall was later rewarded by Henry VII for his good service. This suggest the possibility, followed by Mike Ingram in his recent book, that Bruce commanded a company of Scots men-at-arms from French service, probably 50 or 100 lances, while Haddington commanded some foot; there is a (later) account that James III of Scotland sent 18 companies of foot to France not long before the battle, so there were Scots infantry available. The foot would most likely have been archers.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2019 4:46 a.m. PST

Scot longbowmen in Tudor Livery ?

MajorB10 Nov 2019 5:28 a.m. PST

Scot longbowmen in Tudor Livery ?

Not unless they were part of Henry Tudor's retinue.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2019 7:04 a.m. PST

Yes, because I think that the French, Bretons and Scots of Henry Tudor's army did not have livery costs at Bosworth and that they were not soldiers of the King of France or the Duke of Brittany but volunteers.

For example The French pietaille came out from the prisons of Normandy.

Korvessa Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2019 12:56 p.m. PST

My last name is Bosworth and I have b.f e Scots ancestry, does that count?

GurKhan11 Nov 2019 1:15 a.m. PST

Scottish longbowmen, probably. Clothing colours are anyone's guess. If they did indeed come from companies recently shipped from Scotland to France, and now to England, they could have been issued with "uniform" in any of the three countries, but we have no evidence for it.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2019 9:29 a.m. PST

Yes, and maybe the allies and mercenaries of this war could not have livery coats?

And the 2000 to 3000 French (all out of the prisons of Normandy) who form "big battalions" Henry Tudor,are also longbowmen?

And the handful of Bretons? M.A.A.?

MajorB11 Nov 2019 11:29 a.m. PST

Yes, and maybe the allies and mercenaries of this war could not have livery coats?

See comments about livery and maintenance on other threads.

And the 2000 to 3000 French (all out of the prisons of Normandy) who form "big battalions" Henry Tudor,are also longbowmen?

Freench with longbows? I doubt it. They didn't have any at Agincourt …

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP12 Nov 2019 1:42 a.m. PST

I think there were all types of fighters among them and as they resisted well against the opposing longbwmen, they had to be something other than crossbowmen and handgunners …

MajorB12 Nov 2019 11:22 a.m. PST

I think there were all types of fighters among them

On what do you base that point of view?

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2019 2:16 a.m. PST

There were in the first place 1200 archers in front of Oxford under Norfolk, normally thanks to their rate of fire the longbowmen massacre any troop of crossbwmen and / or handgunners, no? Well, it's the opposite that happened, so there must have been a lot of archers with Oxford.

GurKhan13 Nov 2019 3:30 a.m. PST

French with longbows? I doubt it. They didn't have any at Agincourt …

I presume that's a joke, rather than ignorance of the francs-archers and subsequent French infantry developments?

We don't really know how the French were armed, or indeed whether they were "out of the prisons of Normandy" the sources that suggest they were poor-quality troops seem to be those with an interest in downplayig the French contribution or were highly-trained regular troops. Michael K Jones in his "Bosworth 1485: The Psychology Of A Battle" argued that they were veterans of the "gens du camp", the supposedly Swiss-trained attempt at a standing army created at Pont d'Arche in 1480-81, and were predominantly pikemen; and he cites the fragments of a letter from a French soldier who was there, claiming that the French were important in deciding the battle. (Extracts from the letter were quoted by Alfred Spont in a 19th-century article "La milice des francs-archers", but it now cannot apparently be located in the archives.) Some have been very sceptical about this, but Chris Skidmore's "Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors" (2014) and Mike Ingram's "Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth" (2019) are both keen on the idea. They point out that although the Pont d'Arche camp was supposed to be disbanded in 1481, there were still French commanders posted in the area and apparently leading troops from the area in later years. Skidmore in fact picks up on references in Molinet's chronicle about the French being deployed separately from the English and argues that they came in on Norfolk's flank while he was engaged with Oxford, hence their claim to be responsible for the victory.

The French letter-writer, Colinet Leboeuf, described himself as an "archer du camp". Now the earlier francs-archers were not in fact all archers, despite all bearing the name, but I haven't seen any indication that the gens du camp followed this practice, so I suspect that Leboeuf at least was an actual archer. As for the rest, the gens du camp were supposed to have been pikemen and halberdiers, and chroniclers call them piquiers, but records suggest that they were actually issued about three times as many halberds as pikes (the camp was also issued with some bows). One of the poem or ballad accounts of Bosworth refers to "10,000 marespikes" the word also spelt morris-pike, Moorish pike, at various times which Ingram uses to support the idea that many of the French were pikemen, but I am a touch sceptical about that one. So I see the French as "all types of fighters", or at least as a mixture of archers and close-fighters who may themselves in turn have been a mixture of pikemen and pole-arms.

(Plus of course some of them were no doubt gunners for the French-supplied artillery.)

Edit: I originally typed Northumberland when I meant Norfolk. I'm sure Richard chose those two just to confuse future students.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2019 10:09 a.m. PST

@GurKhan :

Well said, bravo but the Francs-archers or Francs-Taupins were too bad troops to be sent to England, it is the ordinary French infantry trained by the Swiss, in fact the French at Bosworth are perhaps indistinguishable from the English livery trops except that there are halberds instead of bills, crossbows and handguns in addition to longbows,pikemen and obviously MAA.

Where to read the Molinet's chronicle? It looks interesting.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP03 Dec 2019 3:24 a.m. PST

@ All :

But by the way – if they were present – how was the appearance of the Scots at Bosworth?

dapeters03 Dec 2019 8:04 a.m. PST

The Scots not to be confused with the highlanders would look like the English.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP03 Dec 2019 10:42 p.m. PST

@ dapeters:

Yes unless they come from France.

dapeters04 Dec 2019 12:53 p.m. PST

The French also look like the English who look like the Flemish who look like the Germans who look like the Danes….

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP05 Dec 2019 1:06 a.m. PST

@ dapeters :

Maybe we'll never know in the end and we'll never know.

dapeters09 Dec 2019 9:50 a.m. PST

I think we have a good notion of custom because of surviving pieces and the period art work.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2019 11:50 p.m. PST

@ dapeters :

The period art work? At any time you can not trust him because of the artistic license.

dapeters11 Dec 2019 9:43 a.m. PST

you are absolutely right but when you see mutton sleeves on almost every image in 1460-1470 from Italy to Holland, I think your on pretty sure footing. And on top of that their are pieces which have survived.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP13 Dec 2019 1:18 a.m. PST

@ dapeters :

Let's say that there were no uniforms, but modes of dress by nations.

dapeters16 Dec 2019 9:58 a.m. PST

Paskal the Fifteenth century is the rebirth in west Europe of Fashion for the sake of fashion, juts look at the hates styles come and go with the wind. However some men tend to continue to dress in the style of their teens and early twenties through out there lives.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP17 Dec 2019 5:54 a.m. PST

@ dapeters:

Interesting, so what differences in costumes, haircuts, hats etc during the WOTR between 1465 and 1485?

Without forgetting that Scottish, French, Breton, Welsh and English are different peoples …

dapeters17 Dec 2019 10:11 a.m. PST

Lol just look at the hats, or take just one a liripipe and see how many different ways it was worn depending the fashion of the moment. 1465 to 1485 mutton sleeves come an go with page boy hair cuts. But if you want to paint your French in Blue, English in Red and Scotts in Green go for it.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP17 Dec 2019 11:49 p.m. PST

@ dapeters :

The only thing I am almost certain are the national liveries with their crosses, but I do not think that the French, Bretons, Burgundians and Scottish carried them in the battles of the WOTR in which they take part.

dapeters19 Dec 2019 11:52 a.m. PST

I am not sure if you are using definitions from your first language but words like national and nation are not really appropriate for this period. Lots of populations used red and white cross as symbols of their patronage.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2019 3:40 a.m. PST

@ dapeters :

Don't quibble, you understood me very well when I speak of "national livery" which is the term in use today.

dapeters20 Dec 2019 11:02 a.m. PST

Then no such thing just the Kings, Dukes, Lord's (you pick the title.) However I believe some cities had liveries as well.

4DJones21 Dec 2019 5:32 a.m. PST

@ MajorB

Oh! The invincibility of ignorance.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP22 Dec 2019 5:56 a.m. PST

@ dapeters :

I speak of "national livery" for the continental and Scottish contingents (foreigners in short) of the WOTR.

The English, Welsh, Cornish and Irish and the others carry those of their lords or their cities…

uglyfatbloke05 Jul 2020 3:45 p.m. PST

Thread resuscitation and and all that but….14/15th C English and Scottish people were perfectly well aware of their nationality.

dapeters07 Jul 2020 7:46 a.m. PST

Sure to a point, but are you confusing ethnicity with nationality? And at any rate the OP was trying to discern, that the Scots had a sacred color or a "different" way of tying their points or maybe special silly hats

Warspite109 Jul 2020 12:52 p.m. PST


Adding a little here, I would argue
"English and Scottish people were perfectly well aware of their nationality"
is deceptively simple.

I have just been reading a book on the Border Reivers, also known as Northern Border Horse in Henry VIII's time. The clans/families on both sides occupied the hilly border area and indulged in raiding, feuding etc for several hundred years, starting in the medieval period and through to the 17th century when they were called Moss Troopers.

An English commentator in the early 16th century said that border horsemen wore their nationality lightly. At one battle (Pinkie) borderers from the opposing English/Scots armies were seen talking to each other and only started a sham fight when they were spotted. They fought briefly and then both sides rode off.

Another commentator said that they wore their national badges so lightly that a gust of wind could blow them off!


See also the Battle of Ancrum Moor:


"As they tried again to rally on the eastern slope, the Scottish borderers with them chose to tear off the red crosses which signified their adherence to England and revert to their former allegiance"

In short… if you lived within 30 or 40 miles of the border one's allegiance went to…
1) who was likely to win
2) who was paying (or paying the most)
3) or where the best 'loot and then run' opportunities were

This might explain the bad reputation that the Scots and Borderers enjoyed when Queen Margaret of Anjou brought Borderers south into England proper for the 2nd St Albans campaign.


Paskal Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2020 7:08 a.m. PST

Oh dear !: Damn! Damn ! Damn it! The WOTR "specialist" of this forum has not yet told us if there were Scots at Bosworth, what was it? What size, what type of troops, what origins, what clothes, etc? ;-)

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