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The Battle of Morranside

 

 

In May 1385, Charles VI (1380-1422) of the house of Valois, and King of France, sent Jean de Vienne, Admiral of France, their top General and Fighter, to Scotland, accompanied by a fighting force of 26 Bannerettes, 50 Knights, 1050 Men at Arms, 150 Horses, 200 Pack animals 80 Suits of armour, 80 Lances and 50,000 Gold Francs. This force was to be placed at the disposal of King Robert II of Scotland to help counter the English Army which would shortly invade Scotland according to the French spies in England.

 

On August 6th 1385, the English Army, composed of 9,144 archers, 4,590 men at arms, and cavalry and pack trains and supported by supply ships, marched into Scotland by the east coast route. They were led by Richard II (1377-1399) then 18 years of age, and was accompanied by John of Gaunt.

 

The Scots being forewarned had carried out a scorched earth policy and food was difficult to obtain. The main body of the English army continued along the coast towards Edinburgh, while a foraging force of around 1000 set off for Lanarkshire. In 1384 Buckingham and Lancaster had raided Lanarkshire but had been very badly mauled. as the foraging forces the Muir of MacMorran they were engaged in battle by Allan Steuart, a vassal of the Black Douglas, and married to one of his daughters, leading a mounted troop of around 600 men, from his lands of Allanton and Daldowie.

 

The English party were driven off with heavy loss and retreated back towards Biggar. Allan Steuart who was then 63 years of age at the battle was slain in the battle. He was buried in the chapel of Beuskaig of Beuskaig. His son, also called Allan, then collected what was left of the troop and went on to join Robert II army which was raiding and looting the west coast of northern England. He was knighted under the King's banner for his exploit. The French party, who were with the Scots army were not pleased at this method of waging war but when some were taken to see the size of the English army they realised that the Scottish tactics were the only suitable ones, because the Scots did not have the resources to hold back, let alone defeat the English army.

 

But where arms were not sufficient Alan Steuart's defeat of the foraging party, caused the English army, after having sacked Edinburgh, to retreat back to England. Despite John of Gaunt's wish to go on and attack Fife, Richard II ordered a retreat because he could not bear to watch his army starving.

 

Notes:

•  Allan Steuart of Daldowie, sirnamed " Alnwickster."
He early attached himself to the House of Douglas, under the celebrated Sir James, commonly called " the Black Douglas," and married into that family. From his bravery in heading a party, which stormed the castle of Alnwick in Northumberland, he obtained the sirname of "Alnwickster".

An 1385 (according to the traditional accounts of the family) when Scotland was invaded by King Richard II., Allan, although then past sixty, commanded a chosen body of men, consisting of his own tenants of Daldowie, and others levied in the neighbourhood of Ruthglen, and was marching to join the army, then assembling on the borders, under the Earl of Douglas, when he encountered, at a place named Morningside, in the moor of M'Morren, a detachment of English horse, which, on account of foraging or plunder, was scouring the country. After a severe conflict, the enemy were routed, but he himself was killed in the action.

His remains were deposited in the Chapel of Beuskaig, close by Morningside, a Religious House, dependent on the Abbey of Aberbrothic, the Abbot of which was Lord of the district.

 



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Last modified: Monday, 06 July 2020