King James IV of Scotland and His Link to Ford Castle

King James IV of Scotland

King James IV of Scotland possesses a link to Ford Castle in that he stayed at the castle during one of Scotland's incursions into England and indeed spent his final night on earth here before his death at the Battle of Flodden in September 1513. So, what of the man and king, what is his story plus where does King James IV fit into history? Let's take a look.

Early Years

James IV was born on March 17th 1473 and was regarded as one of the most successful Stewart monarchs. He was the son of James III, one of the most unpopular kings of Scotland and Margaret of Denmark. In 1474 when James was but a year old he was betrothed to Princess Cecily who was daughter of Edward IV of England. England invaded Scotland in 1482 capturing Berwick, while James III army rebelled against him resulting in the English reaching Edinburgh.

James III did in fact face two major rebellions during his reign. The rebels chose young James his son who was a mere fifteen years old as their leader, while his father was killed during the battle of Sauchieburn in June 1488.Young James succeeded his father to the Scottish throne becoming James IV of Scotland but did feel a certain amount of guilt for the part he felt he played in the demise of his own father. His guilt was so much so that he wore an iron belt around his waist as penance for what he saw as his disloyalty.

James the Popular Ruler

James IV was indeed a popular king whose people adored him and he immediately took a firm stance when it came to any rebellious subjects or troops. He quashed a rebellion in 1489, the year following his accession to the throne, plus involved himself in administering justice something he was very proud of. Despite leading a couple of incursions into England James realised that it was in everyone's interest that England and Scotland could live side by side in peace. In 1502 he signed the Treaty of Perpetual Peace with Henry VII of England.

Henry VII Henry VII

James also built a spectacular naval fleet recognising the importance of maritime supremacy. He built two new dockyards and built up his fleet by adding some thirty eight ships to it. James spoke many languages including Latin, French, German, Italian, Flemish and Gaelic. James was one of the best educated kings of his era and was well read in any number of subjects. James IV was responsible for

  • The printing press coming to Scotland
  • Bringing the Royal College of Surgeons to Edinburgh
  • Establishing St Leonards College
  • Founded St Andrews and Kings College Aberdeen
  • Commissioned building work in residences such as Edinburgh and Sterling Castle

His Marriage

James married Princess Margaret Tudor daughter of Henry VII and grandmother of Mary Queen of Scots at Holyrood on August 8th 1503. We would assume that such a marriage would bring England and Scotland together and make relations between the two countries good but this was not the case with in the long term things deteriorating more. Prior to his marriage James was in love with his mistress Margaret Drummond with whom he had children. Margaret and her sisters were mysteriously poisoned probably because she was considered too much of a threat to James's proposed marriage to Margaret Tudor.

Margaret Tudor

James IV and Ford Castle

We may wonder why James IV would invade England in 1513 when there was a long running treaty for perpetual peace between the two countries but it is indeed what happened. England was at war with France and under the terms of an "Auld Alliance" signed by John Balliol in 1295 King James was obliged by honour to come to the aid of France and invade England even though it was the opposite to anything that had been promised at the treaty of 1502.

James and his army travelled south and took over Ford Castle where he resided for some time. This invasion was to culminate in the Battle of Flodden between the armies of Henry VIII of England and King James IV of Scotland. James's army faced the English army who were under the command of Thomas Howard Earl of Surrey. The battle was one of the bloodiest in history with over fourteen thousand men meeting their deaths on the battle field including King James IV of Scotland. Pro rata the English lost four thousand men, while the Scots lost ten thousand.  James was the last British King to die in battle, while ultimately the Scots had been defeated.