Battle of Largs
Whereas in England the Vikings had either been assimilated or ejected well before 1263, in Scotland the King of Norway still held lands under local rulers in the West of Scotland, as his predecessors had for more than 150 years: the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Isle of Man , and Kintyre all owed allegiance to Hakon Hakonsson rather than Alexander III of Scotland. Like his father before him Alexander tried to bargain with the Norwegian to purchase Hakonís outposts in what was becoming far more recognizably Scotland. Hakon refused, as he had previously.
Alexander pushed his case with a raid on the Isle of Skye in 1262; Hakon prepared a fleet and army to retaliate, and for a spot of income generation at the same time. Combining with the forces of his vassal kings, Dougal of the Hebrides and Magnus III of Man, Hakon supposedly had about 120 ships and more than 12,000 men under his overall command. Peace talks failed, and so Hakon determined to prosecute his war.
The Battle of Largs on the coast of what is now Ayreshire was not the greatest or noblest action in Scotlandís history, but it proved of significance. Part of Hakonís fleet had been driven ashore near Largs during a storm on October 1. Scots in the area attacked the stranded vessels, albeit from a safe distance. On October 2 Hakon and some of his soldiers went ashore, doubtless to protect his vulnerable ships. With perhaps only 600 men on dry land Hakon was attacked by a far larger Scottish army. He was whisked away to safety, but many of his subordinates were not so lucky; good discipline then overcame initial panic, and the rearguard fought bravely, but the Scots outnumbered them hugely. Hakon sent reinforcements in the form of one ship, which was enough to keep the Scots at bay until both sides withdrew.
Spending the winter in Kirkwall , old and perhaps tired by his campaigning Hakon took ill and died that December. The Scots had beaten him at Largs, and perhaps weakened Norwegian resolve. In due course Hakonís son Magnus sold the Norwegian outpost kingdoms of Hebrides and Man to King Alexander. Orkney remained Norwegian.
More famous dates here
7241 views since 23rd September 2009
On this day: