Flodden

~9  Sep 1513~

Although it was fought at Branxton, history accepted the name given by the defeated Scots. Jasper Ridley states in his book about Henry VIII that if the battle had taken place at Flodden it would probably have been won by the Scots due to the fact that James IV and his troops had the better position on Flodden Hill.

On 22nd of Aug that year James IV had crossed the border to England near Coldstream with 20.000 men. His flemish canons were drawn by 356 oxes and 150 soldiers. After having occupied Norham Castle, the most important fortress at the English border he succeedingly besieged and occupied the smaller forts Wark, Etal and Ford.

Sir William Heron, constable of Ford Castle, was brought to Scotland as prisoner and the Scottish headquarters were set up in Ford. He seduced lady Heron while his 22 years old natural son, the Archbishop of St. Andrews messed around with her daughter.

Meanwhile Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey who had already fought in the War of Roses yet 70 years old marched north carrying the banner of St. Cuthbert from the cathedral of Durham as it was carried before in 1138 and 1346 against the Scots. He surrounded the Scottish army and set up between the Scots and the  border. James believed that Surrey would invade Scotland and left Flodden Hill for Branxton where he occupied Branxton Hill. Surrey and his 13.000 soldiers stood below.

When James opened fire with his large canons they fired over the heads of  the enemy. Then James attacked with his soldiers. Barefoot they followed their King downhill. They were caught not primarily by the small English canons but by the archers who for the last time decided a battle.

The Scots had longer spears than the English, seemingly an advantage, but  the English chopped the spears and killed the thus weaponless Scots.

The English realised their threatening and made no prisoners. The Scottish loss was large. King James was killed and among the dead were also his son the Archbishop of St. Andrews, another Bishop, two abbots twelve earls, fourteen lords - almost the whole Scottish aristocracy - and knights, gentlemen and commons.

James's body was hard to identify. It was taken to London but could be buried nowhere as he had been excommunicated. Among others Lachlan Cattanach MacLean of Duart was killed.

It is difficult to estimate how many Cumbrians were on the battlefield, but Henry Clifford, Lord of Appleby, Brough, Brougham and Pendragon, brought 207 bows and 116 billmen liveried in the Red Wyvern, the Clifford crest. Sir John Radcliffe of Derwentwater led men from Keswick, Alston and Gilsland. One of 40 to be knighted on the battlefield by the Earl of Surrey was Edward Musgrave of Westmorland. Losses were also difficult to estimate but the Scots lost between 5,000 to 8,000 while the English lost 1,500.

It was Dacre who identified the half-nude, mangled corpse of the Scottish king, said John Sadler. The Scots never forgave him and hated him more than any man living.

 

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