Fatal Rivalry: Flodden, 1513: Henry VIII and James IV and the Decisive Battle for Renaissance Britain
Flodden 1513: the biggest and bloodiest Anglo-Scottish battle. Its causes spanned many centuries; its consequences were as extraordinary as the battle itself.
On September 9, 1513, the vicious rivalry between the young Henry VIII of England and his charismatic brother-in-law, James IV of Scotland, ended in violence at Flodden Field in the north of England. It was the inevitable climax to years of mounting personal and political tension through which James bravely asserted Scotland’s independence and Henry demanded its obedience.
In Fatal Rivalry, George Goodwin, the best-selling author of Fatal Colours, captures the vibrant Renaissance splendor of the royal courts of England and Scotland, with their unprecedented wealth, innovation, and artistic expression. He shows how the wily Henry VII, far from the miser king of tradition, spent vast sums to secure his throne and elevate the monarchy to a new standard of magnificence among the courts of Europe. He demonstrates how James IV competed with the elder Henry, even claiming that Arthurian legend supported a separate Scottish identity. Such rivalry served as a substitute for war—until Henry VIII’s belligerence forced the real thing.
As England and Scotland scheme toward their biggest-ever battle, Goodwin deploys a fascinating and treacherous cast of characters: maneuvering ministers, cynical foreign allies, conspiring cardinals, and contrasting queens in Katherine of Aragon and Margaret Tudor.
Finally, at Flodden on September 9, 1513, King James seems poised for the crushing victory that will confirm him as Scotland’s greatest king and—if an old military foe proves unable to stop him—put all of Britain in his grasp.
Five hundred years after this decisive battle, Fatal Rivalry combines original sources and modern scholarship to re-create the royal drama, the military might, and the world in transition that created this bitter conflict.
Much has been written about Mary, Queen of Scots, and the rivalry between her and her cousin, Elizabeth I of England, which ended in Mary's execution. But this was not the only fraught relationship between a 16th-century Scottish monarch and an English one that culminated in bloodshed. British historian Goodwin (Fatal Colours: Towton 1461) explores an earlier rivalry that played an influential role in the conglomeration of Great Britain 200 years later. While England's Henry VII sought to keep the peace, even giving his daughter Margaret in marriage to Scotland's James IV, Henry VIII took the English throne in 1509 as a teenager eager for glory. The monarchic brothers-in-law had much in common, and both were "masters of majestic display," argues Goodwin, but while the more mature James regarded the display of might as "a substitute for war," Henry regarded it as preparation for battle. Goodwin's detailed account of the events leading up to the clash at Flodden on Sept. 9, 1513, places James at the center of the story, and it provides a fresh and provocative take on the intertwined histories of Tudor England and Stuart Scotland. 8 pages of color, 8 pages of b&w illus.