صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]

deliver himself from such despiteful reproach as was like to follow he rushed forth in the thickest press of his enemies, and there fighting in most desperate wise was beaten down and slain.' His son, the short-sighted, clerkly Archbishop of St. Andrews fell near him : both within a spear's length of where Surrey stood. No quarter was giren, no rich prisoners (as was so often the case in those days) held to ransom; the English soldiers' hearts were bitter, and the 'sutors and taylors' dealt unsparing blows at the knights and noblemen who clustered round their doomed king.

At nightfall the Earl of Surrey bade the trumpets sound the retreat. The battle with all its horrors had lasted barely three hours. "If we only had had longer daylight, and our victuals,' said the English soldiers, “we should have given the Scots such a lesson that they would have been ware how they entered the realm of England again.'43 As it was, the English encamped for the night on one part of the field, the still unbeaten forces of Home (10,000 men in number) on another, and it might have been possible while the canopy of darkness was orer all to argue that the battle was a drawn game, though the multitude of fugitives who crossed the Tweed at Coldstream ford were of a different opinion. But when daylight dawned and showed the ghastly harvest of Scottish slain there could be no longer any doubt to whom the victory pertained. Lord Chamberlain Home with his 10,000 men melted silently from the field, making no attempt to rescue the Scottish guns (“five great curtalles, two great culveryngs, four sacres and six serpentynes, as fair ordnance as hath been seen, besides other small pieces ') all of which, together with the English ordnance was safely conveyed, with Dacre's help, across the Till to Etal castle. 44

Of the number of slain at Flodden field we have only the English estimates, which are contradictory and in some cases no doubt exaggerated. According to these the Scottish losses were 12,00045, 11,000 or 12,000,46 10,000,47 or 8,000,48 while the English loss in killed and prisoners was only 1,500,49 1,200,50 or, according to the official estimate, 12 Account of the Battle of Flodden, u.s.

43 Hall. Gazette. 44 Account of the Battle of Flodden, u.s. 46 Gazette. 47 Account of the Battle and Ballad.

48 Holinshed. 49 Hall and Holinshed and Ballad. Hall says, 'of the English side were slain and taken not 1,590 men as it appeared by the book of wages when the soldiers were paid.' This reference to the pay-sheet does look rather like fact.

50° Gazette.

45 Hall.


as low as 400.51 Both the story of the battle itself and the cautious movements of the English general after it make it difficult to believe that there can have been such a tremendous disproportion between the losses of the two armies. But what made the day of Flodden so memorable and so disastrous was the high rank of many of the victims. Besides the king and his son, one bishop, ten mitred abbots, twelve earls, fourteen lords, and fifteen knights and gentlemen, in all forty-six persons of eminent rank, the flower of the Scottish nobility lay dead on Branston moor on the morning of the 10th of September, 1513.62

On the English side the only men of rank who were slain were Sir Bryan Tunstall,53 Sir John Gower,54 Sir John Booth,55 Sir Wynchard Harbottle,56 and Maurice Berkely.57

It was long before the body of the hapless king was found. At length Lord Dacre, who had often seen him in life, discovered the corpse naked, as having been stripped by plunderers, and gashed with many wounds, one with an arrow and another with a bill.?58 It lay near the place where he and his great antagonist Surrey first encountered one another. Dacre brought it to Berwick and there delivered it into the custody of Surrey.59 The king died excommunicate, that ecclesiastical penalty having been denounced on either party who should break

S1 Account of the Battle.

52 I must here transcribe the able summary of the results of the battle given by Sheriff Mackay (Preface to Exchequer Accounts, p. clxxxviii.) :

Every district of the country also contributed to the numbers of the slain, and attests the huge proportions of the carnage. No prisoners were taken. Besides the king there fell thirteen earls, at least as many lords, and a still greater number of lesser barons and gentlemen. Two bishops, St. Andrews and the Isles; two abbots, Inchaffray and Kilwinning; and the Dean of Glasgow, represented the clergy, whom the English satirist blames for taking part in the battle. Edinburgh lost its Provost Lauder, and if many credit Pitscottie's story of the summons of Plotcock, only one of its burgesses came home. The Western Highlanders, whose rash onset contributed to the defeat, fell in large numbers, besides several of their chiefs—Maclan of Arinamurchan, Campbell of Glenurchy, and MacLean of Dowart. Few of the men of Caithness returned, and it was long deemed unlucky to cross the Ord with green, the colour they wore when led by their earl to the muster. The descendants of the tall borderers of Ettrick, the flowers of the forest, and the stalwart burghers of Hawick and Selkirk preserved the sad memory in songs. Masses were said for the dead in every church throughout the realm, and the title deeds of almost every estate, as well as the public records of the commencement of the next reign, prove that scarcely a family of note did not mourn more than one of its members. It is probable that Hall, who reckons the total loss at 10,000, did not greatly exaggerate.

*I never read," writes Lyndsay, “ in tragede nor storie, at ane journaye so many nobles slain for the defence and lufe of their soverane.

33 Ballad. 54 Gazette and Ruthal's letter. No. 4,462 in Calendar. S6 Account in Calendar of State Papers. 59 Dacre's letter in Calendar, No. 5,091.

57 Ibid.

55 Ibid.
58 Hall.



the covenant contained in the treaty between England and Scotland. Henry VIII., with that stiffness of assertion of his legal rights which was characteristic of the Tudors, seems to have at first decided on burying the body in unconsecrated ground. Pope Leo X. in a courteous and diplomatic letter60 suggested that such treatment of the brotherin-law of the king of England would not redound to his honour, and gave permission (which perhaps had never been asked for) to bury the body in St. Paul's. It was, however, eventually deposited (enclosed in a leaden coffin) at the monastery of Shene in Surrey, and after the dissolution of that religious house in the reign of Edward VI. it seems to have been subjected, through carelessness, to many indignities. Herein, however, the invader of England fared no worse than some of her own noblest kings, whose monuments at Glastonbury were destroyed and their bones spread like dung upon the earth in the same orgy of brutal iconoclasm.

Even as we, six years ago, hoped against hope that the heroic Gordon had escaped from the ring of Moslem fanatics at Khartoum, so the loyal Scots long refused to believe in the death of their king. The body that had been found, said they, had not the belt armed with iron spikes which the king always wore in penance for his share in the rebellion against his father. He had caused ten of his followers to be clad in coats of armour like his own, and it might be one of these that had been found.61 He had glided from the field when he saw that all was lost, and had gone on a long-vowed pilgrimage to the Holy Land. With such pious sophisms as these did each loyal Scot try to banish from his soul the thought of the ignominy that had befallen his king. But as the years passed on and no James Stuart returned from the Holy Land, men gradually acquiesced in the unwelcome truth that the fairest of all 'the flowers of the forest' was 'wede awa' under Flodden hill.

On the 16th September Queen Katharine sent on to her husband the letter of Lord Howard, describing the great victory that his subjects had won in his absence, and expressing the hope that he would not forget to thank God for it. 'I could not for haste send by Rouge Cross the piece of the King of Scots' coat which John Glyn now bringeth. In this your Grace shall see how I can keep my promise,

60 Quoted by Weber (p. 302) from Rymer's Foedera.
61 But according to Dacre's letter he found him stripped naked.

sending you for your banners a King's Coat. I thought to send himself unto you, but our Englishmen's hearts would not suffer it. It should have been better for him to have been in peace than have this reward. All that God sendeth is for the best.’62 Unhappy is the lot of kings, compelled by reasons of state, one while to take another king into their inmost family circle, and another while to slay him. For this James, whose gory coat Katharine was sending to her lord, was husband to their sister Margaret, whom the glorious victory of Flodden had made a widow.

It is amusing to read in the Calendar of State Papers Bishop Ruthal's letters to Wolsey concerning the siege of Norham and the battle of Flodden. When he hears that his castle is stormed by the king of Scots he is so touched with inward sorrow that he would liever' be out of the world than in it. It will cost him 10,000 marks in five years' time to repair the damage caused by the siege. Never has the hand of God been so sore upon him as in this matter ; but he will search his conscience to find for what cause this judgment is sent him; he will reform that sin as much as lies in his power, and henceforward regard God more than the world. When the battle is won he is clear that the victory is due to St. Cuthbert and the good Sir William Bulmer ; he regrets that Lord Surrey could not leave the dead king's body at Durham, but exults that my father under St. Cuthbert's banner brought home his banner, his sword, and his gwyschys,' that is to say the harness for his thighs.

The day after the battle Lord Surrey conferred the honour of knighthood on forty gentlemen who had borne themselves most bravely in the field, his son, young Edmund, among the number. Surrey himself was, as has been said, created Duke of Norfolk within five months from the winning of Flodden (1st February, 1514), and Sir Edward Stanley was, about the same time, created Lord Monteagle.63

The effects of this decisi ve victory on the policy of the two kingdoms must be esti mated by those who are better acquainted with their history than I claim to be. It is easy, however, to see in Henry's

62 Calendar, No. 4,451.

68 His descendant in the fourth generation was that Lord Monteagle who received the mysterious letter tbat led to the discovery of Gunpowder Plot, and thus saved the life of the great-grandson of James IV.



proud and confident tone towards the other great powers of Europe, especially towards the emperor and the French king, some trace of that increased security which he derived from a victory that for one generation at least crushed all hopes of a successful Scottish invasion of his country. Perhaps also the same sense of security may have emboldened him to treat with a more superb disdain the disaffection of his Catholic subjects (whose stronghold was in the north of England, and who would otherwise have found dangerous allies on the other side of the border) when, sixteen years after the battle of Flodden, the time came for him to put away his Spanish wife, and to abjure the supremacy of Rome.

On the politics of the northern kingdom the immediate effect of the carnage of Flodden must have been disastrous. With James IV.'s death commenced another of those ever-recurring regencies which, throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, were the calamity of Scotland. From 1405 to 1584, a space of 179 years, 84 years, nearly half, were occupied with regencies. What encouragement was thus given to anarchy, how hard the lot was made of the peaceable and law-abiding citizen in these days, when the king governed as well as reigned, and when the full-grown king's name was a tower of strength to those who sought his protection, we can without difficulty imagine.

In conclusion, I will venture on a word or two of comment on the military aspects of the battle and the short campaign. The battle is an interesting one as being the last, or nearly the last, engagement in which the old-fashioned English yew-tree bow, which did such execution on the fields of Crecy and Poictiers, was an important element of victory. In all the great battles of the Civil War, the next important fights on English soil, the cloth-yard shafts are, I think, unbeard of, and some form of musket or of cannon is practically the only arm used in projectile warfare.

As for the strategy of the two commanders my views have been already in some measure indicated. I cannot think that James IV. showed any undue delay in his procedure. It was surely a piece of good generalship to secure the castles which commanded the passage of the Tweed; and Norham, Etal, Ford, and Wark were not an insignificant result of a fortnight's fighting. Especially the incessant rain which hampered all the movements of both armies must in fair

« السابقةمتابعة »