9 September 1513: James IV’s invading Scots army defeated at the Battle of Flodden

On this day in 1513, James IV of Scotland led a force of 30,000 Scots in battle against the English in Northumberland, where he and many of his nobles were killed.

Before the unpleasant disagreement with Rome that led to the creation of the Church of England, Henry VIII was a good Catholic boy. And in 1513, he and his army were camped out at the siege of Thérouanne, defending Il Papa from who else, but the French.

Scotland, having been big pals with France since the forging of the Auld Alliance in 1295, was unhappy. So James IV sent an envoy to tell Henry to give it a rest, or he would invade England.

Henry wasn't impressed, declaring "If he be so hardy to invade my realm or cause to enter one foot of my ground, I shall make him as weary of his part as ever was man that began any such business". He charged Thomas Howard, AKA the Earl of Surrey, the Warden of the Northern Marches, with repelling any invasion.

James ignored Henry's wise words, assembled an army of up to 30,000 men, and headed south to invade. As was customary for the time, he politely gave a month's notice of his plans. Rather like modern schoolboys arranging a fight outside the school gates at home time, the Earl of Surrey and James contracted to fight a battle near the village of Milfield in Northumberland, no later than 9 September.

James's army marched south, and, while he waited for the English army to arrive, prepared fortifications on Flodden Hill. Surrey and his men arrived nearby on the 8th. Early on the morning of the 9th, the English troops manoeuvred into position to the north of the Scots. When the Scots awoke, they found themselves outflanked.

By the afternoon, the two armies were facing each other on Branxton Moor. Three bloody hours later, between 1,000 and 4,000 English soldiers lay dead, and between 7,000 and 11,000 Scots. Crucially, James and most of his nobles died alongside them. He was the last king from the British Isles to die in battle.

Scots feared that the English would march on Edinburgh, which hastily constructed its Flodden Wall, still visible, in defence. But with its king and much of its nobility dead, Scotland was no longer seen as a threat.

Recommended

Latest issue
Investments

Latest issue

Latest issue of MoneyWeek magazine.
2 Dec 2022
The best offers for switching banks – get up to £200 free cash
Personal finance

The best offers for switching banks – get up to £200 free cash

Looking to move bank accounts? You can now bag as much as £200 for switching current accounts from two major banks
1 Dec 2022
What is a deficit?
Too embarrassed to ask

What is a deficit?

When we talk about government spending and the public finances, we often hear the word ‘deficit’ being used. But what is a deficit, and why does it ma…
18 Nov 2022
3 UK shares to buy yielding up to 17%
UK stockmarkets

3 UK shares to buy yielding up to 17%

3 UK shares top stocks to buy now, according to Alex Harvey of Momentum Global Investment Management.
16 Nov 2022

Most Popular

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?
Personal finance

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?

The weather is getting colder and energy bills are rising, but is it really cheaper to leave the heating on low all day or should you only turn it on …
1 Dec 2022
Radiator vs electric heater – which is cheaper?
Personal finance

Radiator vs electric heater – which is cheaper?

We compare the costs, pros and cons of radiators and electric heaters and see which one will help keep your energy bill as low as possible.
28 Nov 2022
The pros and cons of smart meters – should you switch?
Personal finance

The pros and cons of smart meters – should you switch?

A smart meter can help you keep tabs on your energy usage, but is it better than a regular meter? We take a look at smart meters vs regular meters.
2 Dec 2022