Battles of Flodden and Pinkie Cleugh were the last two battles fought between
the national armies of England and Scotland. Both were victories for the
Date - 9th September 1513
Combatants - James IV of Scotland .v. King Henry VIII of England
Location - Flodden Moor, Northumberland, England
With England committed in France the
Scottish King attempted to take advantage and aid the 'auld alliance' with
France by invading England from the north.
He amassed an army estimated at 50,000 and headed south. James was a charismatic leader. Unusually his army consisted of both Lowland and Highland Scots he was one of the few Scottish king able to unite the two.
He quickly overwhelmed the English outposts but was delayed at the fortified house
of Ford where he allegedly flirted with the lady of the house, who was reputedly an
The English had not wasted time and were
busy raising an army under the Earl of Surrey. This army numbering approximately
20,000 moved north to deprive the Scots supplies from the countryside.
In consequence James's army began run low
on supplies, large number started to desert northwards in search of food.
When the armies met it is estimated that
the Scots numbered between 30-40,000 and the English around 20,000.
The Scottish King who was no master tactician nevertheless took the sensible decision to deploy his army on the high ground.
Surry thought this rather unsporting and asked
the Scottish King to come down for a fair fight. This request was refused.
The English army deployed on the plain of Brancstone. James missed a glorious opportunity to attack the English army while it deployed in front of him.
The English artillery then engaged the Scots. The English artillery proved to be more deadly than anything the Scots could muster and eventually the Scots charged. It was there that their luck ran out.
The English beat the Scots in bloody
hand-to-hand fighting mainly by use of the Halberd, a particularly vicious weapon which combined the
subtlety of an axe with the finesse of a scythe. This weapon proved superior to
the sword and spear favoured by the Scots.
The Scots were routed and their King
killed. He appeared to have been attempting to reach Surrey for one to one
combat, but never made it having first ensured that he got most of the other
Scots noblemen killed in the process.
An old English poem about Flodden
Date: 10th September 1547
Protagonists: Edward Seymour The Duke Of
Somerset v James Hamilton 2nd Earl of Arran
The background to this battle was a
complicated matter between royal families as was so often the case in this
period. The English wished to quieten this northern border by marrying the
infant king Edward to the equally young Mary (Queen of Scots) except that the
Scots had other ideas on the subject.
The armies that opposed each other were a
strange mix of medieval and modern. The Scots had a sizeable cavalry element and
had arranged their infantry into three large columns of pikemen. They did have
more tradition infantry at Pinkie but it was the pikemen which form the main
part of their plan, trained by foreign mercenaries the pike when used en masse
by well trained troops was a potent weapon. The use of mercenaries from all
countries was quite popular at this time.
The size of the armies is not exact but the
Scots are thought to have fielded around 26,000.
The English had more horsemen than the
Scots but less infantry who employed the medieval Bill and Hook. Firearms at
this time were in use but they were unreliable and slow to use. Pinkie was the swan song for the English longbow. The English army is recorded at 16,000.
They did however have one important ally on their side. The English Navy had
shadowed the army and played a critical role at Pinkie by shelling the Scots and
routing most of the highland contingent.
The Scots pikemen charged, according to one
eyewitness they moved as fast as cavalry. For a while it looked as though they
would smash through the English lines but the English cavalry counter charged
and checked them.
The Scots fought off the cavalry but their
momentum had been lost. In the intervening period the English had concentrated
their bowmen who let loose terrible volleys onto the Scots. This was followed by
the cannon and the Scots threw down their weapons and fled.
Though the English and Scot national armies would no longer meet in battle, the English and Scots did fight again during the Civil war.