Today the rivalry between St Andrew and St George may be fierce but at least it is limited to the sporting field. This was by no means the case before the Act of Settlement in the eighteenth century. Rupert Matthews has researched more than twenty major battles between these two countries, over a period of 1,000 years. Each battle forms a chapter, explaining the causes of the conflict, the forces involved, the battle itself and a brief guide to the battlefield as it is today. The outcome of each was as unpredictable and hotly contested as the clashes at Murrayfield, Wembley and Cardiff are.
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(234mm x 156mm x 19mm)
Pen & Sword Books Ltd
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Ltd
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UK Kirkus Review »
Each of the 20 chapters of this book describes a battle, from Degsastan in 603 - the opening round of more than a thousand years of warfare between the English and the Scots - to Culloden in 1746, which left the Highlands depopulated and the clan system gone. The chapters follow the same order - a historical introduction, then accounts of the numbers and weapons of the opposing armies; next, the tactics employed with a clear description of the battle itself, and its aftermath. Finally, detailed directions are given to the locations in question. Photos of the now lonely fields which once sounded to fierce Highland charges and ran red with the blood of the horribly wounded, sketches of different men in different types of battlegear and maps of battle positions accompany each factual chapter. Tactical developments make fascinating reading, from the early shieldwalls of the first rank of men to the use of the Viking battleaxe and the Viking 'beserkers' who worked themselves up into frenzied battle rage. The English later used Welsh archers whose 'arrow storms' were terrifyingly effective, and the dragoons they deployed rode into battle, dismounted to fight and were then able to make a quick getaway if necessary. The Scottish William Wallace introduced a new tactic called the 'shiltron' which was an oval of up to a thousand men who formed an impenetrable line of spear points which could counter the massive impact of the charging armoured knights, and was a key factor in the Scots victory of Stirling Bridge in 1297. Some of the battles had important long-term results, such as the Battle of Brunanburh in 937, an English victory that gave Athelstan the prestige needed to ensure England would become powerful and united; the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 established Scotland as a free and independent kingdom after decades of English occupation, thanks to the military skill of Robert Bruce. Other battles were fought with enormous losses because of miscalculations, poor leadership or defections - James IV of Scotland lost the battle of Flodden in 1513 with 10,000 Scots slaughtered and his own death on the battlefield. This lively and readable history is an excellent introduction to the long and bitter history of Anglo-Scottish relationships, and reminds us how much has changed militarily; battles are still with us, but at least the soldiers don't have to provide their own weapons and bring their own food from home! (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Ruper Matthews
Rupert Matthews has written over 50 published books covering historical, military and children's subjects. His work has been translated into over a dozen languages. He lives at Epsom Downs, Surrey.