Then north over the hills and across Flodden Field. The Battle took place in 1513. There is lots of information at http://www.flodden.net – and I have even found a “Battlefield Access Statement” (it’s a funny old world). It does look as if a lot of money has been spent on websites – you can also read http://www.flodden1513.com. I really ought to try and get north for some of the commemorations this year. I used an older website – http://www.battlefieldstrust.com/resource-centre/medieval/battleview.asp?BattleFieldId=15 – to write this brief history of the battle:
Briefly, Henry VIII became King in 1509 and was keen to secure England’s position on the Continental stage. In 1511 he joined an alliance with Spain and Pope Julius II against France. James IV of Scotland was married to Henry’s sister but also had an alliance with France. When Henry invaded France in 1513, Louis XII called upon James for assistance and persuaded him to invade England and so divert troops north. He crossed into England in August, with an army of 60,000, captured Ford and Etal castles, and sent raiding parties into the countryside. Henry had anticipated the Scottish invasion and had assembled his forces for the continental campaign from the south, leaving Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, in command of the north. (I love the way Surrey gets the North!). By early September he had 26,000 troops assembled at Alnwick, Scottish numbers had declined to 35-40,000, and Surrey issued a challenge to James, with the battle to take place by 9 September at the latest.
James moved his army to the steep hill of Flodden Edge. Surrey arrived on 7 September, saw the Scots had a tactical advantage, so march north east and attacked them from the north. Scottish artillery was facing south, nor could they flee back across the border. (I can hear a Scottish version of Captain Mainwaring complaining about the dirty trick). 10,000 Scots, including the King, were killed. It is said that every great family in Scotland mourned the loss of someone at the Battle of Flodden.
Incidentally, flodden.net says 14,000. flodden1513 says 15,000. I had forgotten that Catherine of Aragon was in charge while Henry was in France – earlier this year we visited Hampton Court and there is an excellent exhibition about Henry and Catherine. They were married in 1509 and had several happy years together. We are used to the image of her as an older lady (and can understand why Henry went for Anne) – this picture dates to 1502 and is by Michael Sittow. It was 1533 before they divorced – she died in 1536 in Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire.
The noticeboard says that the dead from both nations were laid to rest here – really? How do you bury 15,000 people? Do you carry them to a churchyard, or just dig pits near where they fell? There is at present no memorial, but there is a plan to install new doors on the church. (Shame they couldn’t put disabled access in at the same time).
If they are hoping for visitors linked in to flodden1513 why can’t they leave gift aid envelopes handy? I spend most of my life banging on about “if you put your donation in the envelope and fill in your details, the government adds 25% to your gift.” 80% of the churches in this diocese have not learned to leave envelopes and have pens available, and even fewer have donation pots that will take donations in envelopes. There are times I despair! (Sorry, rant over – 15,000 dead and I’m going on about gift aid).