The Battle of Flodden and the Capture of Ford Castle

Battle Scene

King James IV of Scotland fought against King Henry VIII's English army at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Ford Castle played its part in this meeting as James took up residence in the castle and indeed stayed there the night before he died. Let's take a look at the battle and its outcome.

King James Takes Over Ford Castle

Ford Castle came under attack from the army of James IV in 1513 after the Scots invaded England following England's declaration of war on France. James was duty bound to support France owing to an ancient agreement signed in 1295 by John Balliol. King James also blamed the taking over of the castle on a murder that was committed by one of the Heron family who owned the castle. It was said that Robert Kerr a Scottish warden was the murder victim and this gave King James the excuse, if he needed one, to storm the castle in a revenge attack. The king made the castle his head of operations and spent his final night alive there on the eve of the Battle of Flodden.

Ford Castle

The Battle

The Battle of Flodden Field took place on September 9th 1513 close to the village of Branxton in Northumberland.  Flodden saw Henry VIII's army fight the army of James IV of Scotland in what was to be remembered as one of the bloodiest Medieval battles of the time. Thousands of men perished with around four thousand English fighters and ten thousand Scottish men losing their lives in a blood bath. Even though James was married to Henry's sister it did not prevent the battle taking place.

James was confident that he would secure a victory as his army greatly outnumbered the English army. In fact the Scots had around forty thousand men, while the English had a mere twenty seven thousand by comparison. The only problem for James was that his army though huge in number was inexperienced compared with the English army and consequently the English had the upper hand even when faced with so many of the enemy.

Outmanoeuvring the Scots the English circled around the Scots position, while James who after all was a great and noble king led from the front and charged into the middle of the ensuing battle. He was cut down only feet away from the Earl of Surrey who was leading the English assault as Henry VIII was fighting in France. King James was not the only casualty among the elite as his own son Alexander also perished as did many nobles and brave countrymen too.

The Battles Verdict

The failure of the Scots to win the Battle of Flodden was firmly blamed on King James. It was said that the king moved to attack the English down the hill on to a marsh although the Scots defeat was more about unsophistication rather than the English's superiority. Another disappointment for the Scots was that their main battle weapon the Pike was not suited to the type of fighting the terrain required being a long pole used better on flat straight battle grounds.

The English cannon fire was also superior to the Scots firearms especially as the English were stationed higher. All in all it was a case of experience over numbers that triumphed in the end. Many English soldiers were granted knighthoods following the victory at Flodden, while the battle field today remains virtually the same as it was all those centuries ago. Five hundred years on many commemorations and re-enactments still take place to remember the Battle of Flodden where the last brave British monarch died on the battle field.