It's that time of the year that the Coldstreamers flock out of the last toon in Scotland to cross the border to commemorate the Battle of Flodden. An interesting account of the day and a Historian's view of the battle is given here
It s not often that the person who gives the annual oration has very much new to say about the battle itself but on this occasion a local (English) Borderer Historian Paul Thompson focused on certain aspects of the lead up to the engagement that had certainly escaped me. I had not realised for instance that James IV had broken the traditional rules of engagement by stationing his army on an easily defensible strategic position-abandoning the 16th Century convention of the level playing field. Nor had I known of Jame's reaction to being chided by the Earl of Surrey when accused of seeking an unfair advantage:
"It beseemed not an earl after that manner to handle a King
" (It of course got worse as the Earl's men killed the King but I suppose that's fair dinkum in battle-no disrespect intended)
And I had not been aware that after being manoeuvered out of his strong position by being outflanked by Surrey James abandoned the idea of fighting a battle and tried to retreat to Scotland to preempt a possible English invasion. But, sadly for him, Surrey and his army had cut off his retreat and that was that.
And the poor English foot soldier also had a bad time-in the words of Paul Thompson;
'They were running out of food and beer
and were forced to drink water
Now that's real hardship for you.
Two lessons learned by the Brave of Both Nations:
By the English:
Always carry enough beer
And by the Scots
'Never do a favour for the French'
It will always end in tears
(The image is of the Coldstreamer dashing up Branxton Hill. His Borderer predecessors led by the Earl of Home left the battle prematurely, having, so we are told, got all the loot they could carry) This Borderer is by contrast 496 years too late to join in. Sensible chap)
Labels: Favours for the French, Flodden. James IV