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The Battle of Flodden Field

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The Battle of Flodden Field
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Author(s): Robert Jones
Date Published: 2011/08
Page Count: 100
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-632-9
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-631-2

A fateful day for Scotland

The Battle of Flodden Field was founded upon the soundest of military maxims—’to take the enemy in rear whilst he is directed upon another enemy.’ Unfortunately, as with all strategies, it is never more than a ‘plan’ and being good or sound is no guarantee of success as James IV, King of Scotland, found out to his fatal cost. In 1513, the year of the battle, Henry VIII, the formidable Tudor king sat upon the throne of England though he was on the continent as war raged with France. The King of Scotland was persuaded by the Queen of France to join in the fray, to his own advantage, in a renewal of that famous alliance said to exist between the two kingdoms. A Scots invasion force moved south into Northumbria where, upon a pretext, King James crossed the Tweed at Coldstream, burning castles and property, as he advanced at the head of a formidable Scottish Army of over 60, 000 men. Whilst King Henry was abroad the defence of the realm was put into the capable hands of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, who moved northwards, gathering forces as he marched. The initial position as the armies faced one another was close to Millfield Plain where each side fielded approximately 30,000 men with the Scots holding the high ground. However both sides manoeuvred for position along the River Till, the English finally crossing it unopposed. The battle, which was originally known as the Battle of Branxton after the site of the Scottish position on its heights, was mostly fought at close quarters, in the manner of the 16th century, and was a scene of barely conceivable carnage as thousands of men blew each other to pieces, pierced each other with arrows, trampled men under the hooves of chargers or hacked with edged weapons. This book describes this pivotal battle and the campaign that accompanied it. When it was over the King of Scotland was lying dead on the field among the bodies of 10,000 of his countrymen including the flower of Scottish aristocracy. It had been the largest battle ever fought between the two nations.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

Men from the east, west, and south of England came pouring on in quick succession. Durham and Newcastle were thronged with horse and foot soldiers. Day and night brought fresh supplies. No sooner had thousands marched on for the north, than thousands took up their places from the south. The watchword that the King of Scotland had invaded England, and was throwing down castle after castle, spread with astonishing rapidity from town to town, and every tongue resounded with the depredations committed by the Scottish army. Surrey had ordered all the men capable of bearing arms to hurry on for Alnwick, a town whose inhabitants knew well the strife of Border war, even from the days of Malcolm III. , King of Scotland, whose blood was treacherously spilt before her gates, to the hour when Surrey’s forces assembled within her walls, on their march for Flodden Field.<br>
By the 5th September their tents were pitched at Bolton, a small hamlet about five miles west of Alnwick, and north of the River Aln. Here they were joined by the Borderers and the men of Northumberland, under their different commanders, all animated with the greatest zeal of doing battle with their foes. They were clad much in the same manner as the Scotch. The leaders and the men-at-arms rode strong powerful horses, and they were covered from head to foot in burnished mail-armour. The warriors in those days never considered themselves equipped for battle unless they were cased in steel or iron. The struggle for victory was generally hand-to-hand, especially after they had discharged their arrows, so that the shock of battle was more terrible when each man singled out his foe, and was determined to conquer or to die, than it even now is, under all the improvement of the destructive implements of war. A few hours’ combat sufficed to cover the field with the dead and dying. The arrow and spear-points soon did their fatal work; and the bill, the battle-axe, and the sword, wielded in the hands of the combatants, quickly laid their thousands in the dust.<br>
The two armies were now drawing nearer and nearer to each other, the day of battle was close at hand, a few hours wafted intelligence from camp to camp, and all were preparing for the encounter. Surrey had challenged the King to meet him on Friday, the 9th September, and James had accepted the challenge, telling him “that had he been in Edinburgh, he would gladly have hastened to obey the summons.” At this time the King was strongly encamped on the eastern end of Flodden Hill, a position that commanded a view of the country to the north and east, and looked directly across that part of Northumberland over which he expected the English army to march. The Till, a deep, slow, sluggish river, lay on the north side, and extended, with its tributaries, from the neighbourhood of Wooler to the Tweed, by Twizel Bridge; consequently, he neither expected nor dreaded an enemy from that quarter.
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