By J.P. Kellett & J. Davies
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Few battles resonate via British heritage as strongly as Bannockburn. On June 24, 1314, the Scots below the management of Robert the Bruce without notice trounced the English, leaving millions useless or wounded. The victory was once certainly one of Scotland’s maximum, the extra so as the Scottish military was once outnumbered by way of approximately 3 to at least one.
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Was a standing army any more lawful, affordable or expedient than it had been before the war? How would Parliament control it? The place of the army in the state, whether republic or monarchy, remained a fundamental and problematic issue – and by no means, of course, one for these islands alone. In Britain it would not be settled for another half-century; in France, not for two centuries; in Germany, three. The problem was that by 1649, when the execution of King Charles apparently settled the nature of the state, the New Model Army, though its officers were ‘professionals’ and its rank and file in regular pay, had become thoroughly imbued with puritan zeal, and thus politicized.
Some of his men may have had thoughts of their own – Monck for Lord Protector, indeed – but for the most part they were content to follow him in the hope of getting their promised arrears of pay. ’ It was indeed a statement of fundamental doctrine. No general since the Restoration has tried to overawe Parliament, let alone break it up. Few, probably, have even thought of it. On 1 January 1660 Monck crossed the Tweed, the border between his command in Scotland and that of northern England, and began his march on London, just as Julius Caesar had crossed the Rubicon and begun his march on the capital of the Roman republic – alea iacta est.
It had been during this last desperate push of pikes that the earl of Lindsey was shot through the thigh. The veteran of the Prince of Orange’s service, who in vain had advocated the more compact battle line of the Dutch infantry (just as he had used Dutch engineers to drain the Lincolnshire fens to which he gave his name), now cursed in the bitter cold of the night. Why had the King not heeded his counsel, taking instead that of a 23-year-old thruster? ’ But it did not please God. Just before midnight the earl of Lindsey, like so many of his Lincoln regiment, joined the ‘harvest of death’.