Battle of Harlaw, 1411

 

Harlaw MonumentIn origin the battle of Harlaw was a feudal dispute, but it must be viewed in the context of growing late medieval conflict between Highland and Lowland. The situation was also complicated by the fact that King James I was imprisoned in England and thus royal authority was weak. Donald, Lord of the Isles, having fought for control of Ross, now planned to strike south east into Moray, towards Aberdeen. But there was substantial warning of the impending campaign and so defensive preparations were put in hand by the Earl of Mar in the spring and early summer of 1411.

As soon as he was aware of the approach of the Highland forces, Mar marshalled his troops at Inverurie. The Highland forces camped on the night of the 23rd July on high ground near Harlaw. On the morning of the 24th the Earl of Mar marched out of Inverurie to engage the Highland army.

It appears to have been an intense and close run fight but the sources provide little detail and there is even conflict over the outcome, with both sides claiming victory. What is clear is that Aberdeen was successfully defended and the Highland forces departed without causing significant destruction in the region.

I have no evidence that any Douglas was involved in the batle, though it is a possibility. However, they did benefit from the power vacuum in Scotland that followed the battle.

 

 

 

This page was last updated on 29 June 2015

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