James IV of Scotland

On this day in history, the 9th September 1513, while Henry VIII was away, busy campaigning against the French, James IV and his Scottish troops crossed the border and challenged the English force, which was headed by Thomas Howard, the Earl of Surrey, at Flodden in Northumberland.

Before leaving for France, Henry VIII had left his wife, Catherine of Aragon in charge of England as governor of the realm and captain general of the forces. She was regent and was to manage the kingdom, with the help of a council, while Henry was fighting France with the help of Imperial forces. Flodden was a victory for Catherine. After about three hours of fighting, the English army had defeated the Scots, killing most of the Scottish aristocracy, including two abbots, two bishops, twelve earls and King James IV himself. The English army lost around 1,500 men, whereas the Scottish army lost 5,000 – 17,000, depending on which source you believe!

J J Scarisbrick writes that while Henry VIII could send his wife a handful of French prisoners, Catherine could send him James IV’s bloodstained coat. It was one of Catherine’s finest hours, she had managed to hold England together while the King was away and protect it from the Scots. It was a good day for the Earl of Surrey too, he had the title “Duke of Norfolk” restored to him.

You might be interested in viewing the Two Men in a Trench series episode on the Battle of Flodden on YouTube – see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra1XCVn9NAo for the first part.

Notes and Sources

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