The Terror of the Seas?

Scottish Maritime Warfare, 1513-1713


This important new book provides the first detailed and clear analysis of the Scots involvement in naval warfare during the early modern period. The lazy use by both contemporaries and some modern authors of the word ‘piracy’ as a catch-all for all sorts of maritime activity obscures a complex picture of Scottish maritime warfare. Through the use of letters of marque and reprisal (rightly distinguished in this analysis) as well as dedicated Crown fleets, Scottish warfare against against a wide range of enemies are scrutinised. This is an impressive book that makes and important contribution to our knowledge of European naval warfare. Its formidably broad range of sources sheds light on many previously little known, or unknown, aspects of naval history. It also provides many valuable new perspectives on the importance of the sea to the Scots, and of the Scots to the naval history of the British Isles.
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Biographical Note

Steve Murdoch, PhD. (1998) is Reader in History at the University of St Andrews. He has published extensively on Scotland and the Wider World and his major publications include Network North: Scottish Kin Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Leiden, 2006) and with Alexia Grosjean, Scottish Communities Abroad in the Early Modern Period (Leiden, 2005).

Review Quotes

"Murdoch ...has written an important contribution to Scottish history as well as to the history of the Atlantic world more generally by filling a gaping hole of the roughly two centuries between the death of King James IV at Flodden and the dispersal of his navy, and the merging of Scottish naval activity into what then truly became the British Royal Navy following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. ...With the use of abundant archival and other primary sources, the author has pieced together a detailed, highly informative account of Scottish naval activities, and this reviewer found the appendixes to be equally as important as the text. Of great overall value to scholars of the Atlantic world, naval history, and Scottish history. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
D. M. Hall, Lake Erie College, Choice, 2011apr (48-4700)
"...Throughout this period Scottish ships cruised with letters of marque or reprisal. Murdoch is one of the few scholars who fully understands the difference between the two - variously issued in response to private grievances, private ambitions and public policy...Not the least of his services has been to print lists of Scottish warships, privateers, prizes and losses, which for the first time give a proper sense of the scale of Scottish martime effort...This excellent study is a model of how maritime and naval history ought to be written, from the sources of all the relevant countries, without any anachronistic assumptions of how naval warfare ought to be fought. It is important not only for Scottish history but for the maritime history of all Northern Europe, to which the Scottish contribution can no longer be neglected."
N.A.M. Rodger, International Journal of Maritime History Vol. XXIII, Number 1 (June 2011), p. 425

Table of contents

Acknowledgments .. ix
Abbreviations .. xi
Stylistic Conventions .. xiii
List of Illustrations .. xv

Foreword .. xvii
Introduction .. 1
Chapter One: Scottish Maritime Warfare, 1513–1560 .. 33
Chapter Two: Letters of Reprisal .. 79
Chapter Three: ‘Peacetime’ and Piracy, 1560–1618 .. 111
Chapter Four: The ‘Marque Fleets’ of Scotland, 1618–1638 .. 153
Chapter Five: Scottish Maritime Warfare in the British Civil Wars, 1638–1660 .. 191
Chapter Six: The ‘Scottish-Dutch’ Wars, 1665–1667 and 1672–1674 .. 237
Chapter Seven: The Franco-Scottish Wars: 1689–1697 and 1702–1713 .. 283
Conclusion .. 325

Bibliography .. 331
Appendices .. 351
Index ... 419
Illustration Section


All those interested in maritime warfare, naval history, the history of early modern Scotland and England, legal history, the history of the sea, political alliances and the history of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.


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