ScotWars - Scottish Military History and Re-enactment
Debate on White Favours
When at Marston Moor, during a tiny lull in the filming, I overheard several uncomplimentary comments on the request to wear white favours, which was displayed at the guard tent. Comments like :- "wrong period, we're not Jacobites" and "Historically inaccurate", putting it politely.In Antonia Fraser's book 'Cromwell our Chief of Men', on page 123 she discusses the kind of "standard, guidon, or colour" carried by various troops and commanders. She goes on to say:- "Obviously in an age not only before regimental colours but also before any coherent policy for uniforms, these individual rallying points were highly important. It was true that the Royalists tended to wear Crimson silk scarves and their opponents orange silk during the early stages of the Civil War, but there were many variations, as a result of which some sort of field sign was often adopted before a major battle involving many different regiments - the field sign for Marston Moor was a white favour, a handkerchief or even a piece of paper, in the hat. There was certainly no difference in the clothing of the various commanders, and the pictorial traditional lacey splendour of the Cavalier as opposed to the Puritan severity of the Roundhead commander has no basis in historical fact". It would seem the researchers had at least read Antonia Fraser.
Any comments as to the accuracy, please enlighten two beginners.
- Sue Bowdidge 24/7/95

As requested, another authors view, taken from 'Marston Moor 1644' by Peter Young:"There was little to distinguish the officers of the two armies but the crimson silk scarves habitually worn by the Royalists and the orange-tawny ones of their opponents, though both sides wore special field-signs on particular occasions. At Marston Moor the Parliamentarians had white bands or pieces of paper stuck in their hats."
I also was involved in a similar discussion, at the notice board in the beer tent, though this centred around the wearing of white cockades. As the title of Antonia Fraser's book suggests and certainly in the case of the latter quote, the author is referring to the Parliamentarians and not, as he clearly uses the term elsewhere, referring to the Allies as a whole, "Chapter 8: Assembling the Allied army". The author does not dwell on the Scots army other than to mention, "The Scots colours were quite different from the English ones,...". I do feel that the Covenanting army would have, at this battle, worn 'white bands' or similar, I do not however feel that they would have worn white cockades (as someone had suggested). The blue and white cockade was without doubt a symbol of the Covenant, having been worn since 1638 and probably until the end of the Covenanting regime of Scotland which lasted until the restoration, though heavily pressed during Cromwell's occupation. (It is rumoured that the blue and white cockade was Montrose's idea). It is hardly likely that this 'seasoned' army would have given up such an emblem on this occasion. If anyone has any further evidence, either way, please send it in to the Clarion. Any quotes from John Buchan's 'Montrose: A History' regarding the topic of Scots' uniform, field signs or colours would be interesting.
- Rab Taylor

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