In September 1513, King James IV of Scotland found himself torn between ties of family and obligations of state. He chose the latter, and on a cold and lonely field in Northumberland, James and thousands of his loyal subjects paid dearly.
EARLY in the 16th century, Pope Julius II of Rome and King Louis XII of France were at war, and King Henry VIII of England had sided with the Pope. So Louis begged the Scottish King James IV to invade England, reminding him of the ‘Auld Alliance’, the Scots’ long-standing friendship with France.
Even though James was married to Henry’s sister Margaret, he honoured his alliance with the French. Observing the courtesies of a bygone age, the King sent formal ‘defiance’ to London, allowing Queen Catherine (since her husband was in France) time to organise an army under the Earl of Surrey.
On the 9th of September 1513, the two sides met just south of the village of Branxton in Northumberland, close to Flodden Edge. The Scots, once again displaying a chivalry worthy of a nobler cause, were cut down in their thousands by the more pragmatic English, and King James himself fell in battle, the last British monarch to do so.