Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Warfare in the West Highlands and Isles of Scotland, c. 1544-1615
Author: Crawford, Ross Mackenzie
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2016
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Warfare has long been associated with Scottish Highlanders and Islanders, especially in the period known in Gaelic tradition as ‘Linn nan Creach’ (the ‘Age of Forays’), which followed the forfeiture of the Lordship of the Isles in 1493. The sixteenth century in general is remembered as a particularly tumultuous time within the West Highlands and Isles, characterised by armed conflict on a seemingly unprecedented scale. Relatively little research has been conducted into the nature of warfare however, a gap filled by this thesis through its focus on a series of interconnected themes and in-depth case studies spanning the period c. 1544-1615. It challenges the idea that the sixteenth century and early seventeenth century was a time of endless bloodshed, and explores the rationale behind the distinctive mode of warfare practised in the West Highlands and Isles. The first part of the thesis traces the overall ‘Process of War’. Chapter 1 focuses on the mentality of the social elite in the West Highlands and Isles and demonstrates that warfare was not their raison d'être, but was tied inextricably to chiefs’ prime responsibility of protecting their lands and tenants. Chapter 2 assesses the causation of warfare and reveals that a recurrent catalyst for armed conflict was the assertion of rights to land and inheritance. There were other important causes however, including clan expectation, honour culture, punitive government policies, and the use of proxy warfare by prominent magnates. Chapter 3 takes a fresh approach to the military capacity of the region through analysis of armies and soldiers, and the final thematic chapter tackles the conduct of warfare in the West Highlands and Isles, with analysis of the tactics and strategy of militarised personnel. The second part of this thesis comprises five case studies: the Clanranald, 1544-77; the Colquhouns of Luss and the Lennox, 1592-1603; the MacLeods of Harris and MacDonalds of Sleat, 1594-1601; the Camerons, 1569-1614; and the ‘Islay Rising’, 1614-15. This thesis adopts a unique approach by contextualising the political background of warfare in order to instil a deeper understanding of why early modern Gaelic Scots resorted to bloodshed. Overall, this period was defined by a sharp rise in military activity, followed by an even sharper decline, a trajectory that will be evidenced vividly in the final case study on the ‘Islay Rising’. Although warfare was widespread, it was not unrestrained or continuous, and the traditional image of a region riven by perpetual bloodshed has been greatly exaggerated.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: D History (General) ; D111 Medieval History ; D204 Modern History ; D901 Europe (General) ; DA Great Britain ; U Military Science (General)