In 1511 King Henry VIII, keen to revive England’s past glories on the continent, joined the holy league against France. In order to counter the threat posed by England, in 1512 Louis XII of France prevailed on King James IV of Scotland to recommence the two countries historic alliance which meant each would come to others aid if attacked.
This was the alliance mainly responsible for the Battle Of Flodden. After Henry VIII invaded France in May 1513, Louis XII sent relative and available utilities, including money and arms, to help James IV equip and train the Scottish Army and with this newly prepared Army of 60,000, James crossed the River Tweed into England. Within the next 10 days James and his Army reduced the border Fortresses at Norham, Etal and Ford.
In anticipation of a Scottish invasion, Henry called upon his Lieutenant General in the North, Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey who was a 70-year-old veteran of Barnet and Bosworth. The Early of surrey then began advancing from Pontefract gathering men as he went and by the 4th of September 1513 26,000 men had assembled at Alnwick.
The Earl of Surrey and King James IV agreed that battle would commence no later than the 9th September. King James IV intended to lure the English to give battle up hill at Flodden Edge, an impregnable feature rising to a height of almost 600 feet. Surrey knew this would mean almost certain defeat and in a tactical move marched his men across the river Till and north-eastwards round the Scottish flank. Then during the morning of 9th September, surrey re-crossed the river till at Twizel Bridge and began to approach the Scots from the North. This left James with 2 options: they could either decamp for Scotland before their line of retreat was cut off or turn about at march the mile to Branxton Hill and await the arrival of the English. King James chose the second of the 2 options, and by on the afternoon of September the 9th 1513, at 4.00pm battle was ready to commence.
It was a disastrous defeat for the Scottish, a bloody engagement that saw up to 15,000 men being killed in less than four hours. The large majority of the dead were Scots, including King James IV and 23 of the 50 members of the nobility.
It was not unique, but the twentieth occasion since 1296 when one or other country had launched a major invasion on its neighbor. This state of hostility stemmed from the claim of English kings to the lordship of Scotland and the determination of their Scottish counterparts, not to submit. It was not ended until 1603, when the King of Scots, James VI, ascended the English throne as the heir of Elizabeth I.
Flodden did not end cross - border conflict but never again was the political nation of Scotland prepared to risk another debacle on the scale of Flodden.
It is also possible for those that have the opportunity to visit Northumberland to be guided around whilst listening to the commentary and seeing where historic events took place. The live camera will help to interpret where things took place in relation to each other. The Pocket Tours apps also allow users to view photographs, hear sound clips and see film footage to further bring the scene to life. The Flodden tour can easily be completed in one day but it is worth remembering that all travel was done on foot. The distances the soldiers covered are quite remarkable
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