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ness be taken into account, whether we are criticising his strategy or that of his opponent. The army raised by Lord Surrey had to be beaten before the king of Scots could gain any secure foothold in English territory, and in order to have the advantage in that necessary conflict the position of Flodden was surely not ill-chosen.

Of the manoeuvre by which Surrey turned that position and forced James to come down and fight on more equal terms I have already expressed my admiration. But though brilliant, it was surely audacious to the very verge of foolhardiness. To divide the English army in two parts, putting a distance of many miles between them, and relying on their meeting, under the eye of the enemy, on the field of battle, to send the larger part of the army on a fifteen mile march,

• Black fasting as they were born

From flesh, or fish, or other food,' 6 and then to call upon them, at the end of an exhausting march, while faint for lack of victuals, to fight an uphill battle against the warlike Scots, animated as these last were by the presence of their king, surely this was a desperate venture, a move on the board which Hannibal or Caesar would not have made, and which was only justified, if justified at all, by its success. Possibly Flodden should be included among


soldiers' battles' which have been won in defiance of the rules of war by the dogged patience and toughness of fibre of the English soldier.

Thus, then, was fought the last great border battle between England and Scotland. That phase of human history has passed away for ever, and it needs an effort of the imagination to conceive of the time when “the silver Tweed' was a real limitary stream disparting bitter foes. In every quarter of the world the Englishman and the Scotchman, brothers in arms and brothers in council, have stood side by side against their common enemies, or have won in friendly partnership the nobler victories of peace. May it be permitted us to dream of a day when enmities not more bitter than those which once sundered the Scot and the Southron shall have passed away into oblivion ; when the Rhine shall be as innocent of fortresses as the Tweed, and the Balkans shall fear war as little the heights of Flodden.

64 Ballad, cccclvii. The above expression is used of the rearguard, but probably applies equally to the vanguard.




Not only readers of Marmion, but students of our ordinary English histories, will probably be surprised at my silence as to one cause which is generally supposed to have contributed powerfully to the Scottish defeat. I allude to the criminal intimacy of James IV. with Lady Heron, the wife of the lord of Ford Castle. My reason for not introducing that subject into the main course of my narrative is that I have grave doubts whether the alleged intrigue ever existed, or, if it did exist, whether it had any serious influence on the fortunes of the campaign.65

In the first place, we must entirely clear our minds of one avowedly fictitious element in the story, the presence of the bewitching Lady Heron in the Scottish court, as described in the fifth canto of Marmion. This, as Sir Walter Scott himself would be the first to tell us, is pure poetical imagination. There is nothing in the authorities to imply that Lady Heron ever crossed the Scottish border.

65 The following is the pedigree of the Herons of Ford castle for the period before us:-

Sir John HERON, 1421-1461
(four times sheriff of Northumberland, and thrice M.P. for the county,
slain fighting at Towton on the side of Lancaster).


who died a widow
in 1509 or 1510.

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ELIZABETH, heiress of Ford Thomas Carr of Etal. * This is the lady who, according to Hall, made suit to James IV. for the preservation of Ford castle in 1513.

Neither is there a word about this lady in the contemporary gazette, in any of the letters in the Calendar of State Papers, in Hall, in Holinshed, in the ballad (which though itself late may possibly embody several earlier traditions), nor in any authority whatever, except Lindsay of Pitscottie, whom, however, we must consider as a contemporary, though a late one, since he was probably a boy at the time of the battle.

Pitscottie's words are66:—'On the morrow the king went to Wark and Norham and cast them down, and thereafter went to Ford and cast it down. Great slaughter was made of the king's men that stood about the house in the flyings of the timber. Some say the lady of Ford was a beautiful woman, and that the king melled with her, and also his son, Alexander Stuart, bishop of St. Andrews, with her daughter, which was against God's commandment and against the order of all good captains of war,' etc. “Notwithstanding, the king continued still there (presumably at Ford] the space of twenty days without battle till at last all the victuals and vivers of the commons were spent, and many of the fat North-land and Isles-men were spent and wasted in the famine, in the same manner that it was force to them to pass home; and every lord and gentleman sent one or two home of their special friends to bring them victuals in these ways; there abode not with the king above 10,000 men by [except] borderers and countrymen. Yet the king's grace took no fear, because he believed no battle of the Englishman at that time.'

* But the wicked lady of Ford, seeing the king's host so dispersed for lack of victuals, and knowing all the secrets that were among the king's men and the army, both of the king himself and his secret council; and this experience she had by her frequent whoredom with the king, and also her daughter with his son, which moved her to ask license at the king to pass inward in the country to speak with certain of her friends, declaring to the king that she should bring him all novels [news] out of the south country, what they were doing, or what was their purpose for to do, desiring his grace to remain at her coming.'

* As an effeminate prince, subdued and enticed by the allurement and false deceit of this wicked woman, he gave her over hastily

66 I quote from Weber's note. He has modernized the spelling.



credence in this behalf, and believed surely all had been true that she had promised, and to that effect gart (caused] convoy her a certain way from the host as she desired. But this lady, thinking nothing that she had promised to the king that in no ways she would keep it for the love she bare her native country, but hastily passed, with a deceitful mind, to the Earl of Surrey where he was lying at York at that time, and show to him the whole secrets of the King of Scotland and his army, what point he was at, and how his men were departed from him for lack of victuals, and that there were not abiding with him but 10,000 men of all his army. Therefore she thought it expedient that the Earl of Surrey should come forward with all that he might be at that time. She promised to them that they should have victory for she by her craft and ingine (ingenuity] should deceive the king so far as she could, to put him in the Englishmen's hands.'

“These novels [news] being come to the Earl of Surrey by this wicked woman, he was very glad thereof, and thanked her greatly for her labours and travels she took for her native country, promising to her that within three days he should meet the king of Scotland and give him battle.'

“Thus the king of Scotland so insolent, having no foresight nor moyen in the country, lay still, taking no thought, as a man uncounsellable, which would do nothing for his lords and his captains, for the safeguard of his host and commonweal of his nobles, nor yet for obtaining of victory and defending of his own honour, but lying still, abiding the lady of Ford's coming, but all for naught, for she did nothing but deceive him, and came not again till the English army came with her. So the king of Scotland never knew the coming of the army of England while still] they were within the space of three miles, arrayed in seven great battles.'

Such is the indictment against James IV. in reference to Lady Heron, resting on Pitscottie's authority, and on that alone ; and I think it is not too much to say that it breaks down at every point. The record of James's movements is so utterly inaccurate that it is impossible that it could have been derived from the meanest soldier in his army, unless his memory were utterly paralysed by age.

(1) It is said that the king continued there (Ford castle) the space


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of twenty days without battle.' The whole campaign lasted only eighteen days from James's first passage of the Tweed (22nd August) to the battle of Flodden (9th September).

(2) Of these eighteen days six were occupied by the siege of Norham castle, which Pitscottie apparently thinks occupied only part of a day (“and on the morrow went to Wark and Norham and cast them down').

(3) James does appear to have made Ford castle his headquarters after the capture of Norham, and it is possible that he may have remained there from the 29th August till the 5th of September. On the 6th of that month he is already encamped at Flodden. Thus we have seven days as the utmost limit of his sojourn at Ford castle which was in itself not at all a bad position for a general holding the valley of the Till.

(4) But, according to Pitscottie's own account, during no part of this week can the lady of Ford have been entertaining or beguiling the invader, for she hastily passed with a deceitful mind to the Earl of Surrey where he was lying at York at that time. But the Earl of Surrey quitted York on the 26th of August, three days before Norham had fallen. Lady Heron would require not less than two days-probably three-to travel from Ford to York, and therefore if Pitscottie's narrative is correct she must have left her home within two days at the utmost after James entered England. And yet Pitscottie speaks of her frequent adulterous intercourse with the king.

(5) It will be seen that according to the story told by Pitscottie two generations of the family of Heron were engaged in the hateful intrigue. But no daughter of Sir William Heron's appears in the genealogical table of that family,67 and it is most improbable that any such lady ever existed. Nor does the scandal accord with what we hear from other sources of the disposition of the young Archbishop of St. Andrews.

(6) The king's conduct in dismantling Ford castle looks very little like that of a lover of its châtelaine.

Are we, then, to dismiss altogether the idea that these two persons, with whose names the scandal of the third generation after their own was so busy, ever met one another? We are prevented from going so

67 I take this statement from Weber, p. 187.

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