Heads, shoulders, knees and toes: Injury and death in Anglo-Scottish combat, c.1296-c.1403

Heads, shoulders, knees and toes: Injury and death in Anglo-Scottish combat, c.1296-c.1403

By Iain A. MacInnes

Wounds and Wound Repair in Medieval Culture, edited by Larissa Tracy and Kelly DeVries (Brill, 2016)

Introduction: Fourteenth-century Scotland was dominated by war. Although far from constant across the whole kingdom, conflict nonetheless became largely endemic during the Anglo-Scottish wars (1296–1403). The Scottish Wars of Independence have, therefore, provided fertile ground for discussion of medieval Scottish warfare that continues to have both academic and popular appeal. For all that has been written about this period, little, however, has been produced regarding the realities of war, the impact that it had on the individual soldier, or the wounds suffered by those who engaged in these conflicts.

Similarly, little has been considered in relation to the possibility of wounded warriors recovering from their injuries, and the wider theme of lethality in Anglo-Scottish warfare more generally. This lacuna is based in part on a lack of archaeological evidence; only one (late) medieval Anglo-Scottish battlefield has been examined in any detail (Flodden, 1513). Scottish written sources are also largely devoid of the kind of evidence provided in comparative English administrative evidence.

Historians of medieval England have access to, for example, records of crown physicians and of hospital patients, as well as records of pensions paid to both doctors and those injured on the battlefield. Even here, studies of such records have focused predominantly on individual doctors’ careers and the development of contemporary medicine. Less work has been undertaken on the relationship between fourteenth-century Anglo-Scottish warfare and the subsequent treatment of its casualties.

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