Flodden Memorial, photo by Stephen McKay

On this day in history, 9th September 1513, the Battle of Flodden between England and Scotland took place near the village of Branxton in Northumberland, Northern England.

You can read more about this battle in my article “The Battle of Flodden 1513”, but it was a triumph for Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, as it took place while Henry was in France and Catherine was regent. She wrote to Henry VIII of the victory:-

“This battle hath been to your grace and all your realm the greatest honour that could be, and more than ye should win all the crown of France. Your grace shall see how I can keep my promise, sending you for your banners a king’s coat.”

At least she only sent him James IV’s coat, she had originally wanted to send the King of Scotland’s body!

Notes and Sources

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4 thoughts on “9 September 1513 – Battle of Flodden”
  1. Henry really had Catherine to thank for this. If they had lost, Henry would have been in big trouble. And this once again proves why Catherine of Aragon is my favorite of Henry’s wives.

  2. Henry’s sister Mary was firmly on Katharine’s side during the “Great Matter,” while his other sister, Margaret, who was the widow of the vanquished King James IV, wrote letters to Anne, referring to her as “Our Dearest Sister” and tried to persuade her young son, now King James V, to acknowledge Henry’s forthcoming marriage to Anne.

    It has been mentioned that this particular incident might be WHY Margaret was supportive of Anne, instead of Katharine, but has anyone ever been able to confirm this?

  3. I don’t really see how it was a triumph for Catherine of Aragon. I think the beginning of the end of Henry’s love for her because she was crowing and preening about something she had little to do with. And he probably wondered if she had over exerted herself leading to the death of their son three months later.

    It was a triumph for Anne’s grandfather, Thomas Howard, the then early of Surrey, and her uncle, Lord Thomas Howard. It was more of a triumph for Edmund Howard, Catherine Howard’s father, than Catherine of Aragon!

    The earl of Surrey was the one who marched off into battle. He is the one who made decisive strategic decisions, not Catherine of Aragon. He turned seemingly certain doom into an incredible victory.

    Thomas Howard was a veteran of the Scottish wars. Henry VII had freed him from the Tower of London just saw he could deal with rebellion in the north. He had escorted Margaret Tudor to Scotland for her wedding. He had met with James. He knew the man well and what buttons to push. Reportedly he had tears in his eyes and was quite upset when Henry wouldn’t take him to France and left him behind to defend England.

    But he wound up the better for it. He would regain the title of Duke of Norfolk that he lost after the Battle of Bosworth (when his father was killed) and his oldest son would become the earl of Surrey.

    You can’t talk about Flodden and not talk about Anne Boleyn’s grandfather. I think it’s clear she inherited certain characteristics from him, including the ability to think decisively and go for broke on occasion.

    The Battle of Flodden was truly a triumph for Howard and his sons. It really changed the future of the Howard family, the family of two future queens of Henry VIII. I’m sure Margaret of Austria took on young Anne Boleyn in part because she was the granddaughter of the victor of Flodden and not just because she was Thomas Boleyn’s daughter.

    Rather than a triumph, I see Flodden as the beginning of the end for Catherine. She took too much credit and lost the child she was carrying as she was riding north to join Surrey.

    1. Hi DeAnn,
      Yes, you’re right about Flodden being a victory for Thomas Howard, who, as I wrote in my previous post, had his title of the Duke of Norfolk to him. In his biography of Catherine, Giles Tremlett points out that contrary to reports Catherine “was still in Buckingham when news of the victory reached her” so hadn’t got very far on her journey. I think she was entitled to see it as a victory when, as regent, she had organised the country’s defence.
      There are question marks over Catherine’s pregnancies with some sources suggesting that she gave birth to a still-born boy on the 17th September 1513, not long after Flodden, and others like Starkey and Tremlett giving a date of November/December 1514. Peter Martryr wrote, at that time, of how “The Queen of England has given birth to a premature child through grief, as it is said, for the misunderstanding between her father and her husband.” So, the idea of Catherine risking the health of her unborn child, which I cannot see her doing, depends on when you believe Catherine miscarried/gave birth.

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