About this text
James Howells (1594-1666) of Carmarthenshire matriculated at Jesus College, Oxford, in 1610 and took his BA in 1613. He worked as a steward at a glass factory in London, which required him to travel widely in search of materials and workers. On returning to England in 1622, Howell gave up this job and found employment as a tutor in noble households. He was soon sent on a mission to Spain, where he came into contact with Kenelm Digby, with whom Howell shared an interest in natural philosophy and medicine. Howell served as secretary to Edmund, Lord Scrope, later earl of Sunderland, and was elected to the parliament in 1628 as a member from Richmond, Yorkshire. He began his literary career in 1640 with a political allegory Dendrologia, an account of events since 1603. He tried, unsuccessfully, to steer a middle path between royalists and parliamentarians. Bella Scot-Anglica (1648) is one of his many little-known political and historical pamphlets. It discusses military relations between England and Scotland from early times to the seventeenth century. Our selection recalls a terrible Irish famine during Edward II’s reign, which provided the context for the contemporary Anglo-Scottish war.
of all the
battells, and martiall
encounters which have hap-
pened 'twixt England and
Scotland, from all
times to the present.
wherunto is annexed a corolla-
ry, declaring the causes whereby the Scot is
come of late years to be so heigh-
tned in his spirits;
with some prophecies which are much cryed
up, as reflecting upon the fate of
Printed in the Yeare 1648.
But here comes a cooling-card for the English, Edward the second whose greatest honor was to be son to a Peerles father, and father to an incomparable son, Rosa spinam, spina rosam genuit. In his time all went to wrack especially in Scotland. At Bannocks battaile Gilbert de clare Earle of Glocester, and 40 Barons more, with 700 Knights and Gentlemen, [Page 6] and as some stories record above 40000 more were slaine. Which defeat was imputed principally to the ill choice of ground the English had taken. The Scots had behind them rocks, hills, and woods to fly into if necessity required, before them loughs, and moores, that the assailant could not march further. Adde hereunto the pusillanimity of the King (and the spirits of men are much raysed by their leader) who was sayd to fly first: and better it is for a lion to lead sheepe, then for a sheepe to lead a company of lions.
The Scots hereupon were so agog that they enter Ireland with an Army under the conduct of Edward Bruce the Kings brother, who landing at Karig Fergus ransack'd all the North parts, where he tooke such firme footing, that he proclaym'd himselfe King of Ireland, though he had onely overranne Ulster. At which time there was such a direfull famine, that in some places of Ireland dead bodies were digged up, and their flesh boyled in their sculls to be eaten, as the story tells.
But two yeares after, Sir Jo. Bremingham then chiefe Justice, with the Archbishop of Armagh, went with such a power against this upstart King, that at Dundalke they got a most compleat victory, one Manpas as it seemed having kild the King hand to hand, for both their dead bodies were found together, and Manpas covering the Kings body.
In England another Army was sent against the Scots, called the Yorke Army, which was also overthrowne at Milton upon Swayle. Nevertheles the King would venture once more in Person, and with a numerous Army invaded Scotland; The Scots fly into the woods, and places of fastnes; And for want of provision in that hungry country, the English were forced to retire, but in the retraict they were so pursued that they lost all their ammunition, which was attributed to the treason of Sir Andrew Harkley. But your criticall Annalists ascribe it to the poverty of spirit in the royall head, who being become hatefull to God, and man first for perjury, by infringing the oath he made to his Barons; then by disobedience to his father who in his death bed charged him upon his [Page 7] blessing to abandon Piers Gaveston, whom nevertheless he still doted upon with the Spencers, by whose counsels hee guided himselfe, And it was alwaies seen that Princes of an ill destiny follow the worst counsells.