Wayback Wednesday: The Battle of Largs 1263

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The Battle of Largs Image One
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org
Artist: William Hole
Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Seven hundred, fifty-six years ago, today…

Summary from Wikipedia:

The Battle of Largs was an indecisive engagement between the kingdoms of Norway and Scotland, on the Firth of Clyde near Largs, Scotland. The conflict formed part of the Norwegian expedition against Scotland in 1263, in which Haakon Haakonsson, King of Norway, attempted to reassert Norwegian sovereignty over the western seaboard of Scotland. Since the beginning of the 12th century, this region had lain within the Norwegian realm, ruled by magnates who recognised the overlordship of the Kings of Norway. In the mid-13th century, two Scottish kings, Alexander II and his son, Alexander III, attempted to incorporate the region into their own realm. Following failed attempts to purchase the islands from the Norwegian king, the Scots launched military operations. Haakon responded to the Scottish aggression by leading a massive fleet from Norway, which reached the Hebrides in the summer of 1263. By the end of September, Haakon’s fleet occupied the Firth of Clyde, and when negotiations between the kingdoms broke down, he brought the bulk of his fleet to anchor off The Cumbraes.

On the night of September 30, during a bout of stormy weather, several Norwegian vessels were driven aground on the Ayrshire coast, near present-day Largs. On October 2 , while the Norwegians were salvaging their vessels, the main Scottish army arrived on the scene. Composed of infantry and cavalry, the Scottish force was commanded by Alexander of Dundonald, Steward of Scotland. The Norwegians were gathered in two groups:
the larger main force on the beach and a small contingent atop a nearby mound.

The Battle of Largs Image Two
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org
Artist: William Hole
Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The advance of the Scots threatened to divide the Norwegian forces, so the contingent on the mound ran to rejoin their comrades on the beach below. Seeing them running from the mound, the Norwegians on the beach believed they were retreating, and fled back towards the ships. There was fierce fighting on the beach, and the Scots took up a position on the mound formerly held by the Norwegians. Late in the day, after several hours of skirmishing, the Norwegians recaptured the mound. The Scots withdrew from the scene and the Norwegians re-boarded their ships. They returned the next morning to collect their dead. With the weather deteriorating, Haakon’s fleet sailed to Orkney to overwinter.

The Battle of Largs has been romanticised by [some] later historians as a great Scottish victory but, it only involved a small part of the Norwegian fleet. [Another] saga described the Norwegian campaign as a triumph [but], in reality, it had not achieved anything […]. With his fleet and forces intact, Haakon planned to continue to campaign after spending the winter in Orkney but, he was unexpectedly taken ill and, died there before he had the chance to resume operations. The campaign had started too late and the Scottish king had successfully prolonged negotiations to his own advantage. With Haakon’s death, his successor, Magnus Haakonarson, King of Norway, signed the Treaty of Perth three years after the battle (July 2, 1266), leasing Scotland’s western seaboard to Alexander III in return for a yearly payment. This lease became permanent but, the Kingdom of Scotland eventually stopped paying the Norwegian crown for the islands when Norway became distracted by civil wars.

Sources Cited
Background Information
The Specifics of the Battle
1912 Commemoration

Royal Banner of Scotland Image Three
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org
Kingdom of Scotland
Kingdom of Norway Banner Image Four
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org
Kingdom of Norway

6 thoughts on “Wayback Wednesday: The Battle of Largs 1263

    David Redpath said:
    October 3, 2019 at 3:31 am

    I’ve been to Orkney, in summer.
    Spending a winter there would’ve
    been most … embracing 🥶

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      October 3, 2019 at 3:07 pm

      Wow. It’s cool you have that connection to history. It’s just words on a page to me even with my Scottish lineage.

        David Redpath said:
        October 3, 2019 at 8:25 pm

        I did the whole reconnect with the
        ancestral stomping ground. The well
        hidden village of Redpath is in
        Sir Walter Scott Territory. Sadly
        not a single Redpath left in the
        village … of Redpath. Some had
        left for the New World to make
        their fortune. Driven out by the
        Sassenachs, no doubt. The rest
        moved across the road to Brigadoon
        when Queen Victoria stole their
        farms to build Balmoral Castle.
        Not your fault, Victoria 😎

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          October 3, 2019 at 9:28 pm

          I just read about that. I had no idea. I was under the impression that Redpath was Native American, not Scottish. WOW. Learn something new everyday. A village in the Scottish Borders.

          Are you referring to the Old Bridge of Doon in Ayrshire or something else?

          I wasn’t named after her. But, she was a force to be reckoned with.

            David Redpath said:
            October 3, 2019 at 10:52 pm

            “The Legend: The legend of Brigadoon is the story of a mythical village in the Scottish Highlands.  The village became enchanted centuries ago remaining unchanged and invisible to the outside world except for one special day every hundred years when it could be seen and even visited by outsiders.   This enchanted day is spent in joy and celebration. Those who happen upon Brigadoon may remain in this beguiling place only if they love another enough to give up the world outside.” ~ Wikipedia

              The Hinoeuma responded:
              October 4, 2019 at 1:30 am

              Oh. Ok. Yeah. That is a wonderful story.

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