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Scottish–Norwegian War
LocationMostly Scotland, possible at the Hebrides and Orkney as well
Result Scottish advantage, Treaty of Perth
Scottish sovereignty over the Hebrides and Isle of Man. Scotland confirms Norwegian sovereignty over Shetland and Orkney.

Kingdom of Norway

Kingdom of Scotland
Commanders and leaders

Haakon IV of Norway

Alexander III of Scotland

Around 12,000 light armed soldiers, no cavalry, around 120 leidang ships[1] Around 5,000 heavy armed soldiers and 800 heavy cavalry[2]

[1]: Magnus III of Orkney did not participate in the war; however, he would remain nominal head of the forces who participated in the war from the Earldom of Orkney.

[2]: Haakon IV of Norway died during the war, according to some historians, even though he resided in Orkney, the war was still ongoing.

The Scottish–Norwegian War was a conflict from 1262 to 1266.[3] The conflict arose because of disagreement over the ownership of the Hebrides. The war contained only skirmishes and feuds between the kings. The only major battle was the indecisive Battle of Largs.

Background[edit | edit source]

The Norwegian suzerainty over the Hebrides had been contested since the 1240s, when the Scottish king Alexander II began asking the king of Norway, Haakon Haakonsson (also spelled Håkon), if he could purchase the islands from him. For almost a decade these attempts were unsuccessful, and the negotiations ceased for thirteen years when Alexander II died. When his son Alexander III came to power in 1262, by obtaining majority support among the clansmen, he sent Haakon a final request saying that if Haakon did not sell them the Islands they would take them by force.

The war (1262–1263)[edit | edit source]

Haakon IV responded to this request by gathering a fleet of over 120 leidang warships and setting out in July 1263 to defend the Western Isles. Haakon IV stopped at the Isle of Arran where negotiations were started. Knowing Haakon IV had to win a decisive victory before the winter, Alexander III stalled during the negotiations until the autumn storms. In October 1263 several of King Haakons ships got stranded at Largs in stormy weather. A rescue party was sent ashore to help salvage the ships, where the Scottish forces launched a suprise attack, and a minor skirmish followed. The "battle" ended indecisively with a tactical draw. The following morning King Haakon’s forces sailed back to Orkney for the winter, where he died in December. King Haakon’s successor had problems at home, and lacked the proper funding to launch a new expedition.[4]

Resolution[edit | edit source]

Although the war was not really decided while Haakon was king he was a major player in the events leading up to the conflict. Alexander III actually captured the Hebrides in 1264, and then made another formal claim to the Islands which were bought from Norway for a sum of 4,000 marks, and 100 every year after.

Impact[edit | edit source]

Although the tensions between the Norwegians and the Scottish did not immediately evaporate over time they did become culturally mixed on the islands. Both cultures celebrate with a large festival at Largs where the most prominent battle was fought.

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes/References[edit | edit source]

  1. According to various sources, there could have been as many as up to 20,000 soldiers (^ a b c Lawrie (1783), p. 26).
  2. According to several sources (^ a b c Lawrie (1783), p. 26).
  3. Tour Scotland: Scottish Battles
  4. Steve Hendry (2012-12-09). "BBC show tells how Battle of Largs was beginning of the end for ruthless invaders". Daily Record. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/entertainment/tv-radio/bbc-show-tells-how-battle-1480257. Retrieved 2013-10-02. 

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