However, having done more background research , I have became acutely aware of the crucial and often overlooked role played by women, both factual and fictional in shaping the events of one of the most influential and bloodiest conflicts that occurred between the Nations of England & Scotland.
It would appear that it was women that played a major role in the instigation, orchestration, and final outcome of this battle in the manner hereafter briefly described..
A Love letter....
Okay - its 1512 and Henry VIII is off to play soldiers in France. ..
The then wife of King Louis XII of France, Queen Anne of Brittany - at that time reputed to be the richest woman in Europe, writes to King James IV of Scotland, professing "her love" enticing him to raise an army and make war against England. She sent him a ring from her hand and 14,000 French Crowns....
Moving on to early summer 1513...
"my mother has sent me to you, desiring you not to pass, at this time, where thou are not purposed; for if thou does, thou wilt not fare well in thy Journey, nor none that passeth with thee. Further she bade thee mell with no Woman, nor use their Counsel, for if thou do it, thou will be confounded & brought to shame."
A wife & sister....
Following the Treaty of Perpetual Peace in 1502, the marriage of Margaret Tudor, (sister of Henry VIII) to King James IV of Scotland was negotiated by their father Henry VII, to cement peace between the two nations of England & Scotland. Margaret & James were subsequently married in the summer of 1503.
Henry VIII recruited his sister to persuade James IV to honor the above Treaty, and to desist James in his notion to invade England in his absence in 1512/1513. Henry remained firm in his belief that Scotland should in fact, join forces with England as a result of this alliance.
Meanwhile in England...
With Henry firmly ensconced in battle in France in 1513, it falls to his Queen Regent Catherine of Aragon to muster an army and send it North to the Scottish Border, under the leadership of the 70 year old Earl of Surrey.
This task most ably done, and news of the victory received, she despatches the "rent & bloodied surcoat" of the slain King of Scots to her husband in France.
However, not before the events below had unfolded!
Enter stage left....
Robert Lindsay of Pittscottie refers to the dalliance between King James & Elizabeth, Lady Heron as a bout of "stinking adultery & fornication". Whether this was a ploy for her husbands release, or a deliberate plan hatched between herself and the Earl of Surrey - the tactic would appear to have had the desired effect. Ford Castle remained largely unscathed and the King of Scots attention was diverted from the battlefield, preferring the alluring charms of Lady Heron's boudoir!
Peace and the death of a King....
Following the death of the millitary minded Pope Julius in late 1513, and his successor Pope Loepold being desirous of peace, a Treaty was signed between France and England in August 1514.
Henry was permitted to retain his conquests, together with a healthy pension. In addition - following the death of Queen Anne of France - his sister Mary Tudor aged 18 was married to Louis XII, 34 years her senior on 9th October 1514. Louis having no legitimate sons from his two previous marriages, Henry must have been hopeful of creating a Tudor dynasty in France through this union.
A bizarre divorce citation, & the continuation of the Tudor Dynasty
Margaret Tudor, although she wouldn't live to see it, secured the future of the Tudor bloodline on the thrones of both England & Scotland being the great grandmother of James VI of Scotland (James I of England) by two accounts.
1. Her granddaughter being Mary Queen of Scots, by her son of James V of Scotland, child of her first marriage to King James IV.
2. Her grandson Henry Lord Darnley the son of Margaret Douglas, child of her second marriage to Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, was 2nd husband to Mary Queen of Scots. Together they were the parents of the said James VI of Scotland, (James I of England).
Allegedly Margaret cited in her divorce petition that her first husband, King James IV had survived Flodden and was to her knowledge alive & kicking three years after the event!, making her marriage to the Earl of Angus null and void!
Further reading and references
There is also a talk to be given on the 18th/19th May at the Guildhall in Berwick as part of the "Bygone Borderlands" weekend. The subject is to be the "Role of Women at Flodden". For further information, please contact Linda Bankier, Berwick Archivist on (01289) 301865 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org