Thursday, 18 September 2014

Battle of Flodden

The Battle of Flodden, which took place in Northumberland’s Brainston Moor, was a victory for England and the death of Scotland’s King James IV, who died in the battle. Although the English forces were headed by the Earl of Surrey (Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk), it was Queen Catherine who, heavily pregnant, rode out in full armour to address the troops before battle.

War with Scotland was personal – it was the King’s brother-in-law, James IV who declared war on England while England was making war with France.  James IV wrote to Henry VIII on 24 May, 1513, stating that he had received word from France that England might invade, and that if Henry invaded France, Scotland in turn would invade England. Scotland’s alliance (known as the Auld Alliance) supported France and were anit-Papist reformers. More specifically, England and Spain were allies with League of the Cambrai, the Catholic League, which was under attack from France who was invading Italy. While England attacked France, Scotland supported France by attacking England. Queen Catherine, a daughter of Spain and devout Catholic, kept Henry’s England highly influenced by Spain and the Pope until she fell out of Henry’s favour many years later. Adding to this was the already turbulent relationship between Scotland and England which, never a strong alliance, had reached critical breaking point when Robert Kerr, a Scottish East March warden was murdered (not to mention that Henry outraged James by claiming Scotland as one of his territories).

Fighting on two or more fronts always weakens an army, so when the King and his troops gathered arms and fought for two years in France, it was up to Queen Regent, Catherine of Aragon to sort things out on the northern borders of England while Scotland was trying to invade. Catherine proved herself to be a trustworthy Regent and leader at the time. The Battle of Flodden was not the end of Anglo-Scots tension or wars, but with James IV dead and his son and successor only 17 months old, it cooled their attack for many years to come.

Catherine may have succeeded in rousing troops to victory, but her joy was short lived as her newborn child died only days after he was born in October.

sources: 'Henry VIII: May 1513, 21-31', Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 1: 1509-1514 (1920)
and Wiki

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