King James IV

Toast by James Hastie at the 1513 Club Dinner 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAVING COME TO THIS DINNER AS A GUEST FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS I AM HONOURED TO HAVE BEEN ASKED TO PROPOSE THIS TOAST.

BUT I CONFESS THE INVITE HAS CAUSED ME TO QUESTION THE QUALITY OF MY HERITAGE – BEFORE ARTHUR GETS UPSET, DAD I SAID THE QUALITY OF MY HERITAGE NOT MY PARENTAGE.

TONIGHT, IS THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE THAT, AMONGST FELLOW BORDERERS, COMING FROM KELSAE HAS PUT ME AT A DISADVANTAGE. THE REASON IS THIS. FOR MANY THEIR KNOWLEGDE OF KING JAMES IV OF SCOTS BEGINS AND ENDS WITH THE BATTLE OF FLODDEN.

AND ALTHOUGH OTHER BORDER TOONS HAVE A STRONG CONNECTION WITH THE BATTLE AND THEREFORE WITH THE KING, CELEBRATED IN THEIR ANNUAL COMMON RIDINGS, IN KELSAE THERE IS NO SUCH CONNECTION. THERE IS A CONNECTION WITH HIS FATHER WHO WAS CROWNED IN KELSO ABBEY AND HIS GRANDFATHER WHO WAS KILLED AT ROXBURGH CASTLE, BUT NO OBVIOUS CONNECTION WITH JAMES IV.

SELKIRK, HAWICK AND COLDSTREAM ALL CELEBRATE THEIR CONNECTIONS ANNUALLY. AS A KID HAWICK’S CELEBRATIONS PUZZLED ME. I DIDN’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT FLODDEN BUT I DID KNOW IT TOOK PLACE IN 1513. WHY THEN SHOULD HAWICK FOCUS ON 1514? WHY SHOULD HAWICK WANT TAE CELEBRATE BEING A YEAR LATE FOR THE BATTLE OF FLODDEN?

A GALA MAN PROVIDED THE ANSWER. REFERRING TO THE INSCRIPTION ON THE HORSE AND REFLECTING THAT PUBLIC TRANSPORT DELAYS ARE NOT NECESSARILY A MODERN PHENOMENON HE SAID:

            TERIBUS YE TERIODIN, THE TERI BUS WAS LATE FOR FLODDEN

A BIT OLDER AND A BIT WISER I NOW REALISE THE TRUE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE INSCRIPTION ON THATHORSE:

            TERIBUS YE TERIODIN

            SONS OF HEROS SLAIN AT FLODDEN

            IMMITATING BORDER BOWMEN

            AYE DEFEND YER RIGHT AND COMMON

SELKIRK CELEBRATES ITS CONNECTION WITH FLODDEN WITH THE CASTING OF THE COLOURS CEREMONY TO COMMERORATE THE RETURN OF FLETCHER AND HERE IN COLDSTREAM THE FOUNDING FATHERS OF YOUR CIVIC WEEK CAME UP WITH THE FLODDEN RIDE – ALLOWING ALL BORDERERS TO CELEBRATE THE BATTLE AT THE END OF THE RIDING SEASON.

TO MY MIND THE IDEA OF THAT RIDE WAS INSPIRED. LESS INSPIRING IS THE NAME THEY CHOSE FOR THE YOUNG MAN WHO LEADS THE FESTIVITIES HERE. IN KELSAE WE HAVE THE LADDIE, JETHART THE CALLANT, DUNS THE REIVER, HAWICK/LAUDER AND LANGHOLM THE CORNET, SELKIRK ITS THE STANDARD BEARER. GALA, ALWAYS IN TOUCH WITH ITS MARE FEMININE SIDE, HAS ‘THE BRAW LAD’. AND HERE IN COLDSTEAM WHAT DO YOU CALL HIM? THE ‘ER’. THE COLDSTREAM ‘ER’.

GENTS, I’M TOLD THAT THE RESIDENTS OF ORCHARD PARK IN KELSO HAVE ADDED A COUPLE OF LETTERS TO THAT WORD TO DESCRIBE THE RECENT IMMIGRANT FRAE DOON THE TWEED.NAE OFFENCE MEANT HARRY!

SO, GENTS NOT BEING ABLE TO DRAW ON A KELSAE CONNECTION TO JAMES IV I HAVE HAD TO FIND MY OWN CONNECTIONSIN ORDER TO TRY AND QUALIFY MYSELF TO PROPOSE THIS TOAST.

FIRST CONNECTION: AS A FRESH FACED, SLIGHTLY NAÏVE, BUT THANKFULLY NOT VIRGINAL, 18-YEAROLD, I LEFT THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF KELSO, THE CAGE, THE WHIPMANS AND THE SPORTY, AND HEADED TO THE NORTHERN LIGHTS OF AULD ABERDEEN, QUITE LITERALLY OLD ABERDEEN, TO STUDY LAW.

I TOOK LECTURES IN KINGS COLLEGE AND SAT EXAMS IN ELPHINSTONE HALL. AND I THOUGHT NOTHING OF IT. 37 YEARS ON I NOW KNOW THE KING WAS JAMES IV AND THE ELPHINSTONE WAS BISHOP WILLIAM ELPHINSTONE, A MEMBER OF THE KING’S COUNCIL AND THE KEEPER OF THEKING’S PRIVY SEAL, WHO FOUNDED THE UNIVERSITY IN 1495. AT THE TIME OF ITS FOUNDATION ABERDEEN BECAME THE THIRD UNIVERSITY INSCOTLAND AFTER ST ANDREWS AND GLASGOW.ENGLAND ONLY HAD TWO – OXFORDAND CAMBRIDGE. THE IDEA FOR ABERDEEN UNIVERSITY WAS ELPHINSTONE’S BUT THE NECESSARY SUPPORT FOR IT CAME FROM JAMES IV. ELPHINSTONE WAS ABLE TO ENROL THE KING’S SUPPORT BY SELLING THE IDEA OF A UNIVERSITY TEACHING CIVIL LAW – THE ONLY ONE IN SCOTLAND – IN THE NORTH-EAST OF THE COUNTRY. CIVIL LAWYERS EDUCATED THERE COULD THEN BE USED TO DISPENSE JUSTICE ON THE KINGS BEHALF TO THE WILDS OF THE NORTH AND WEST HIGHLANDS BECAUSE AT THAT STAGE, WHILE THE CRIMINAL IN THE LOWLANDS WAS LIKELY TO BE THE RECIPIENT OF THE KING’S JUSTICE AT THE LOCAL JUSTICE AIRE, THE HIGHLAND CRIMINAL HAD LITTLE TO FEAR – LOOKING INSTEAD TO HIS OWN CLAN CHIEF AND THE LORD OF THE ISLES BEFORE ANY KING OF ‘SCOTS’.

JAMES’ DESIRE TO DELEGATE THE ADMINSTRATION OF JUSTICE TO AN INDEPENDENT AND ULTIMATLEY PAID JUDICIARY CAME TO ITS SUCCESFUL CONCLUSION 19 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH IN 1532 WITH THE FORMING OF THE COLLEGE OF JUSTICE IN EDINBURGH. THE SENATORS OF THE COLLEGE ARE THE JUDGES WHO SIT IN THE COURT OF SESSION AND HIGH COURT TO THIS DAY AND THE FACULTY OF ADVOCATES, OF WHICH I AM A MEMBER, TRACES ITS ORIGINS TO THAT DATE. 

AT A TIME WHEN EDUCATION WAS LARGELY ONLY FOR CLERICS, AS PART OF HIS WIDER PLAN TO ENHANCE THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE,JAMES WOULD ‘PUSH’ EDUCATION (OF THE RULING CLASSES AT LEAST) WHEN IN 1496 HE PASSED THE EDUCATION ACT WHICH PROVIDED THAT:

THE ELDEST SONS OF ALL BARONS AND FREEHOLDERS THAT ARE OF SUBSTANCE ARE TO ATTEND GRAMMAR SCHOOL FROM AGED 9 TIL THEY HAVE‘PERFECT LATIN’, THEN THEY ARE TO PROCEED TO THE SCHOOLS OF LAW AND ART WHERE THEY ARE TO REMAIN FOR 3 YEARS.

IT WAS THE YEAR BEFORE THAT ACT THAT HE HAD SIGNED THE ROYAL SUPPLICATION TO POPE ALEXANDER VISEEKING PAPAL APPROVAL (AS WAS NEEDED THEN) FOR THE FOUNDATON OF ABERDEEN UNIVERSITY. WHEN FOUNDED NOT ONLY DID ABERDEEN HAVE THE FIRST CIVIL LAW SCHOOL IN SCOTLAND BUT IN THE EARLY 1500’S IT BECAME THE FIRST UNIVERSITY IN WESTERN EUROPE TO HAVE A CHAIR OF MEDICINE.

MEDICINE WAS ANOTHER AREA OF INTEREST FOR THE KING AND WITH A LETTER HE SENT THE BARBERS AND SURGEONS OF EDINBURGH IN 1506 HE IS CREDITED WITH FOUNDING EDINBURGH’S WORLD RENOWNEDSCHOOL OF MEDICINE. HE HIMSELF IS SAID TO HAVE PERFORMED MINOR SUGERY IN THE FORM OF REMOVING A TOOTH FROM A HOPEFULLY WILLING PATIENT AND THE TREASURY ACCOUNTS OF THE TIME SHOW EXPENDITURE ON BOOKS ON ALCHEMY AND ON DRUGS. THAT WAS BEFORE THE MISUSE OF DRUGS ACT MADE THEIR POSSESSION AND USE ILLEGAL – EVEN FOR ROYALS.

THE PRINTING PRESS, WHICH ISOBVIOUSLY OF HUGE SIGNIFICANCE TO READNG AND THEREFORE TO EDUCATION, WAS FIRST USED IN SCOTLAND IN JAMES’S REIGN. IN 1507 HE ISSUED A LETTER UNDER HIS PRIVY SEAL STATING THAT TWO BURGESSES OF EDINBURGH –WALTER CHEPMAN AND ANDREW MYLLAR (THE LATTER IS NAE RELATION TO JIM) HAD AT HIS REQUEST:

TO BRING HAME A PRINTING PRESS WITH ALL‘STUF’ BELONGING THERETO AND EXPERT MENTAE USE THE SAME FOR PRINTING WITHIN OUR RELAME OF THE BOOKS OF OUR LAWIS, ACTS OF PARLIAMENT, CHRONCILES, MESS BOOKS AND PRAYER BOOKS.

VERY FEW OF THEIR ORIGINAL BOOKS REMAIN TODAY BUT FRAGMENTS OF ONE DOES – BLIND HARRY’S WILLIAM WALLACE A POEM WHICH WOULD INSPIRE ONE ROBERT BURNS TWO AND HALF CENTURIES LATER.

SECOND CONNECTION TAKES ME TO MY WORK – SOMEWHERE I HAVE BEEN RARELY IN THE LAST 18 MONTHS. DIRECTLYBELOW PARLIAMENT HALL IS THE LAIGH HALL WHICH AT ONE TIME HOUSED THE MAIDEN – THE SCOTS GUILLOTINE USED BETWEEN 1564 AND 1710 TO DISPATCH AROUND 150 CRIMINALS INCLUDING THE EARL OF MORTON WHO WAS FOUND GUILTY OF MURDERING MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS SECOND HUSBAND LORD DARNLEY. JUST OFF THE LAIGH HALL IS A CHANGING ROOMWITH A BIG MIRROR WHERE MALE MEMBERS OF THE SCOTTISH BAR STAND AND CHECK OUT THEIR WIGS AND GOWNS. I SHOULD EMPHASISE THAT’STHEM GETTING READY TO DO BATTLE IN COURT AND NOT READY FOR ATTENDANCE AT SOME EDINBURGH LAWYERS’ TRANSVESTITE CONVENTION. AND JUST ABOVE THE MIRROR IS A PICTURE OF A BANDEROLE. FOR THOSE OF YOU FROM GREENLAW THAT’S A TWO-POINTED FLAG OR BANNER.

THE ORIGINAL BANNER, ALL 4FOOT 7 INCHES OF IT, IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS IN 142 HIGH STREET, THE CONSULTING ROOMS FOR THE FACULTY. THE BANNER WAS GIVEN TO THE FACULTY BY THE FAMILY OF BLACK JOHN SKIRVING OF PLEWLANDHILL WHO FOUGHT AT FLODDEN. HE SURVIVED BUT WAS TAKEN PRISONER AND HID THE BANNER “UPON HIS PERSON” BEFORE RETURNING WITH IT TO SCOTLAND SOME YEARS LATER.

ON THAT BANNER, WHICH IS MADE FROM THREE PIECES OF SILK STITCHED TOGETHER,THERE ARE PAINTED THREE STAGS HEADS AND THE WORDS VERITAS VINCIT – SOME LATIN FOR WULL MURRAY. THE TRUTH PREVAILS. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BANNER WASIT WAS THE STANDARD OF WILLIAM KEITH, THE 3RDEARL MARISHAL, AT FLODDEN. SKIRVING, WAS KEITH’S STANDARD BEARER AT THE BATTLE,AND WAS FROM EAST LOTHIAN.ALTHOUGH THE KEITH FAMILY HAD LANDS THERE, THEY WERE PRINCIPALLY FROM THE NORTH-EAST OF SCOTLAND. LOWLANDERSAND HIGHLANDERS FIGHTING FOR THEIR KING AT FLODDEN. BUT IT WAS NOT ALWAYS THUS.

JAMES IV CAME TO THE THRONE IN 1488 FOLLWING THE BATTLE OF SAUCHIEBURN AND THE MURDER OF HIS FATHER. THE 15 YEAR OLDJAMES HAD BEEN ‘USED’ BY THE REBELS AGAINST HIS FATHER AND LATER SHOWED PENANCE FOR HIS PART IN DEPOSING HIMBY WEARING AN IRON CHAIN ROUND HIS WAIST FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE. HE BECAME KING OF A COUNTRY WHICH WAS VERY MUCH DIVIDED. CERTAINLY NOT THE UNIFIED COUNTRY OF SCOTS HE WOULD LEAD AT FLODDEN. 

BY 1502 JAMES HAD MANAGED TO BRING TOGETHER HIS COUNTRY. BY COMPROMISE, BY STRENGTH OF CHARACTER, AND SOMETIMES BY STRENGTH OF ARMS HE HAD UNIFIED THE DISPARATE PARTS OF THE NATION.

AMONG THE RULING CLASSES HE HAD PARDONED THOSE ON HIS FATHER’S SIDE IN THE REBELLION OF 1488 AND THOSE WHO SUBSEQUENTLY THREATENED REBELLION AGAINST HIM. HEHAD CANCELLED FORFEITURES OF, AND RETURNED TO THEM, THEIR LANDS. MANY FROM BOTH SIDES WERE BROUGHT INTO HIS PRIVY COUNCIL TO ADVICE HIM.

AMONG THE COMMON MAN BY VIRTUE OF TRAVELLING THE LENGTH AND BREADTH OF HIS COUNTRY HE HAD MANAGED TO ENGAGE DIRECTLY WITH HIS SUBJECTS.HE SPENT DIFFERENT TIMES OF THE YEAR AT DIFFERENT ROYAL PALACES – EDINBURGH,STIRLING AND LINLITHGOW – AND WAS REGULARLY SEEN OUT AND ABOUT AT THOSE LOCATIONS.

HE PERSONALLY DISPENSED JUSTICE AT JUSTICE AYRES ALL OVER THE COUNTRY – NOT JUST IN THE LOWLANDS AND BORDERS, BUT MUCH FURTHER AFIELD.

HE TOOK PILGRIMAGES TO WHITHORN IN THE SOUTH WESTAND TAININ THE NORTH EAST – AT THE LATTER HE VISITED THE SHRINE OF ST DUTHAC AND ACCORDING TO THE TREASURY ACCOUNTS ON ONE SUCH TRIP IN ADDITION TO TAKING A POET, A MOORISH DRUMMER AND 4 ITALIAN MINSTRELS HE TOOK 3 FALCONERS WHICH ENABLED HIM TO SPEND TIME OUT IN A FAVOURITE PASTIME – HAWKING. SO KEEN WAS HE ON FALCONRY THAT HE WAS PREPARED TO PAY LARGE SUMS FOR A BIRD –I SHOULD SAY THAT’S NOT IN THE WAY SOME OF THE YOUNG LADS HERE TONIGHTMAY BE PREPARED TO PAY LARGE SUMS FOR A BIRD!!! THE TREASURERS ACCOUNTSSHOW HE SPENT £108 SCOTS ON A SINGLE HAWK!

KEEN ON SPORTS JAMES TOOK PART IN JOUSTING TOURNAMENTS ANDHUNTED IN ROYAL FORESTS.

HE HIMSELF HAD VENTURED INTO THE WEST HIGHLANDS BETWEEN 1493AND 1495 TO BRING THE TROUBLESOME LORD OF THE ISLES TO HEEL. ALMOST UNIQUE AMONG SCOTTISH KINGS HE HAD TAKEN THE TIME TO LEARN TO SPEAK GAELIC SO HE COMMUNICATE WITH THOSE HIGHLAND SUBJECTS. HE HAD GRANTED LANDS TO HIGHLAND CHIEFS IN RETURN FOR THEIR LOYALTY AND SERVICE. IT WAS DURING JAMES’ REIGN THAT THE CAMPBELL DUKE OF ARGYLL STARTED TO PLAY A PROMINENT ROLE WHICH WOULD IN CENTURIES TO COME SEE HIS SUCCESSORS AS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL MAGNATES IN THE LAND.

AS A KING JAMES IV WAS MORE VISIBLE AND MORE ACCESSIBLE TO HIS SUBJECTS THAN HIS PREDECESSORS HAD BEEN.

AND ALL OF THIS HAD THE EFFECT OF UNITING THOSE SUBJECTS, HIGH BORN AND LOW, BEHIND A VISIBLE,POPULAR KING, VERY MUCH IN CONTRAST TO THE HERMIT-LIKE EXISTENCE OF HIS FATHER DURING HIS REIGN.

WHILE BRINGING HIS OWN COUNTRY TOGETHER IN A WAY NOT HITHERTO SEEN, HE ALSO MANAGED TO KEEP AT RELATIVE PEACE WITH ENGLAND SIGNING A NUMBER OF TREATIES WITH HENRY VII. THAT PEACE WAS LARGELY MAINTAINED DESPITE THE FACT THAT IN THE LATE 1490’S JAMES LENT HIS SUPPORT TO THE PRETENDER TO THE ENGLISH THRONE, PERKIN WARBRECK AND IN 1496 INVADED NORTHERN ENGLAND TO ADVANCE HIS CAUSE.

ALL WAS FORGIVEN BY HENRY AND MATTERS WERE CEMENTED BY THE TREATY OF PERPETUAL PEACE SIGNED AT AYTON IN 1502 WHEREBY THE TWO KINGS BOUND THEMSELVES TO A PERIOD OF PEACE FOR AS LONG AS THEY LIVED. AS PART OF THAT TREATY JAMES GAVE UP HIS SINGLE STATUS (WHICH HAD SEEN HIM TAKE A NUMBER OF MISTRESSES INCLUDING JANET KENNEDY (WHO BORE HIM A SON), MARIOT BOYD AND MARGAERT DRUMMOND) AND SECURED AS HIS QUEEN THE HAND OF HENRY’S DAUGHTER, MARGARET TUDOR. 

AFTER 1502 HE INCREASINGLY WAS ABLE TO TURN HIS ATTENTION TO THE WORLD OUTSIDE SCOTLAND AND SEEK A ROLE IN AN INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT.

HE PLAYED A PART IN EUROPEAN POLITICS AND HOPED TO ENCOURAGE SUPPORT FOR HIM TO LEAD A CRUSADE TO THE HOLY LAND.

HOWEVER, IN 1509 HENRY VII DIED AND WAS SUCCEEDED BY HIS BELLICOSE SON HENRY VIII. VERY QUICKLY HENRY BECAME EMBROILED IN EUROPEAN POLITICS JOINING THE HOLY LEAGUE AGAINST THE KING OF FRANCE, LOUIS XII. JAMES WAS FORCED TO CHOSE BETWEEN HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW HENRY VIII AND ‘THE AULD ALLIANCE’.

THE FLODDEN PAPERS RECORD THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE FRENCH AND SCOTTISH COURTS AT THE TIME AND FROM MY PERHAPS NAÏVE READING OF THEM IT SEEMS TO ME THAT LOUIS VERY MUCH PLAYED ON JAMES’ AMBITIONS IN AN INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT TO GET WHAT HE WANTED FROM HIM. HE GOT JAMES TO AGREE TO INVADE ENGLAND WHILE HENRY WAS INVADING FRANCE BY PROMISING FAIRLY LARGE SUMS OF MONEY CHUNKS OF WHICH NEVER MADE IT TO SCOTLAND.

HE BUTTERED JAMES UP WITH PLATITUDES – IN ONE LETTER HE WROTEHE,THE KING OF FRANCE, KNEW THAT THE KINGDOM OF ENGLAND BELONGED TO THE KING OF SCOTS – GENTS AS THE FRENCH SAY CONNERIE OR BULLSHIT.

IN ANOTHER HE DANGLED THE CARROT OF SUPPORTING JAMES’ DESIRE TO LEAD A CRUSADE AGAINST THE TURK. EVENTUALLY JAMES WAS PERSUADED TO GO WITH THE AULD ALLIANCE RATHER THAN FAMILY TIES AND HE AGREED TO LEADHIS ARMY OF SCOTS INTO NORTHERN ENGLAND.

IN A COMMUNICATION DATED 5TH OCTOBER 1513 LOUIS XII WROTE HOW SORRY HE WAS TO HEAR OF JAMES’ DEATH AT FLODDEN. HE WROTE HE WOULD:

WISH TO MAKE HIS MEMORY EVERLASTING IN ALL THE WORLD AS A GREAT AND VIRTUOUS KING, WORTHY OF ALL HONOUR AND GLORY AND TO RAISE PRESERVE AND GUIDE HIS NOBLE DESCENDANTS AND PRESERVE THEM FROM THEIR ENEMIES. HE (LOUIS) WILL NEVER FORGET WHAT THE KING OF SCOTS DID FOR HIM IN EXPOSING HIS OWN PERSON IN BATTLE AGAINST THE ENGLISH. 

WELL, HE DID FORGET IT PRETTY QUICKLY,BECAUSEON 7TH AUGUST 1514, WITHIN A YEAR OF JAMES’ DEATH AT FLODDEN WHERE THE KING OF SCOTS WAS DOING THE KING OF FRANCE’S BIDDING, LOUIS XII OF FRANCE SIGNED A PEACE TREATY WITH HENRY VIII OF ENGLAND.

MY THIRD CONNECTION COMES FROM A HOLIDAY 4 YEARS AGO AND PURE COINCIDENCE. I HAD FOUND A NATIONAL TRUST COTTAGE IN THE YORKSHIRE DALES. AS A MAN WHO HAS ONE MOBILE AND SO EVEN ON HOLIDAY GETS WORK EMAILS AND THE LIKE, THE ADVERT SOLD THE COTTAGE. NO MOBILE SIGNAL. NO INTERNET CONNECTION. THE MARKETERS AT THE NATIONAL TRUST MUST HAVE THOUGHT THEY NEEDED SOME REFERENCE TO MODERN TECHNOLOGY BECAUSE IN ‘THE NOTES FOR GUESTS SECTION’ THEY STATE:

A TELEVISION IS PROVIDED …..BUT PLEASE NOTE THERE IS NO TELEVISION SIGNAL.

THE KIDS WERE REALLY HAPPY!!!!!

WE TOOK THE DOGS AND EACH DAY I WOULD CLIMB THE SWITCHBACK ROAD OUT OF THE VALLEY AND, DODGING THE FREQUENT PELETONSOF YORKSHIRE CYCLISTS AND THE EVEN MORE FREQUENT YORKSHIRE SHOWERS, WALK THEM THE 2 MILES OR SO ALONG THE ROAD ON THE LIMESTONE PLATEAU BEFORE DROPPING DOWN INTO THE PRETTY VILLAGE OF ARNCLIFFE. I’D THEN TURN AROUND AND WALK BACK.

I HAD TAKEN A BOOK WITH ME FOR SOME ‘INTELLECTUAL’ HOLIDAY READING. NIALL BARR’S EXCELLENT BOOK ON FLODDEN. HAVING WALKED TO ARNCLIFEE THREE OR FOUR TIMES, ON THE WEDNESDAY OF THE HOLIDAY I GOT TO PAGE 129 OF THAT BOOK. OPPOSITE PAGE 129 WAS APICTURE OF WHAT WAS PAINTED ON ONE OF TWO WOODEN PANELS IN THE CHURCH OF ST OSWALD IN THE VILLAGE OF……. ARNCLIFFE.IT LISTSTHE MEN FROM ARNCLIFFE, LITTONDALEAND HAWKSWICK WHO FOUGHT AT FLODDEN. 34 NAMES OF MEN WHO TRAVELLED NEARLY 200 MILES TO FIGHT AGAINST JAMES IV AND HIS ARMY.

AND ACCOMPANYING ALL OF THE NAMES IS A DESCRIPTION OF THE WEAPONRY THEY TOOK WITH THEM. RICHARD FRANKLIN FROM LITTONDALE TOOK A BOWE, HENRY BULLWARK TOOK A BILLE.FROM ARNCLIFFE RICHARD CLEMENGER TOOK A BILLE, AS DID JOHN CARLYLE, PETER PRASS AND ROBERT TYLSON. OF THE 30 WHO WENT ON FOOT HALF CARRIED A BILLE.

THE BILLE OR HALBERD WAS A CURVED BLADE ON THE END OF AN 8 FOOT WOODEN POLE. IT HAD A POINT AT THE END OF THAT POLE AND A HOOK AT THE BACK OF THE BLADE. THE POINT STABBED, THE HOOK PULLED LEGS FROM UNDER OPPONENTS AND THE CURVED BLADE OR BILL CUTAND SLASHED AT THEM. AT CLOSE QUARTERS IT WAS A DEVASTATING WEAPON.

ALTHOUGH THE OTHER HALF OF THE MEN ON FOOT TOOK A BOW, BY 1513 THE ENGLISH LONGBOW’S DAYS WERE NEARING AN END. GONE WERE THE GLORY DAYS OF CRECHY AND AGINCOURT WHEN THE DARKENING CLOUD OF ARROWS WOULD CUT SWAITHES THOUGH FRENCH DEFENDERS. IN ANY EVENT IN SEPTEMBER 1513 THE BORDER WEATHER WAS NOT GOOD FOR THE ARCHERS – A BLUSTERY WEST WIND WITH FREQUENT RAIN SHOWERS.SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE. ON THE OTHER HAND, THE ENGLISH BILLE WOULD TURN OUT TO BE THE PERFECT WEAPON AT FLODDEN.

EARLY IN HIS CAREER KING JAMES IV HAD TRIED TO ENCOURAGE USE OF THE BOW IN SCOTLAND. ANACT OF PARLIAMENTOF 18TH MAY 1491 PROCLAIMED:

IT IS STATUTE AND ORDAINED THAT IN NO PART OF THE COUNTRY SHOULD FOOTBALL, GOLF OR OTHER SUCH POINTLESS SPORTS BE PRACTICED BUT, FOR THE COMMON GOOD AND FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE COUNTRY, ARCHERY SHOULD BE PRACTICED AND TARGETS MADE UP IN EACH PARISH UNDER PENALTY OF 40 SHILLINGS

HOWEVER, BY THE TIME HE GOT TO FLODDEN JAMES’ WEAPON OF CHOICE WAS THE 18 FOOT PIKE,IT HAVING BEEN USED TO GREAT EFFECT BY THE SWISS THROUGHOUT EUROPE. AT FLODDEN JAMES SET HIS ARMY UP IN 4 SCHILTRONS WHICH, IN THEORY, WOULD ADVANCE HEDGEHOG LIKE TO MEET AND DEFEATTHEIR ENEMY, LIKE THEY HAD DONE THREE CENTURIES BEFORE UNDER WALLACE IN THE SCOTTISH WARS OF INDEPENDENCE.

AT FLODDEN JAMES HAD ONE OF THE LARGEST ARTILLERY TRAINS TO TAKE THE FIELD AS PART OF A SCOTTISH ARMY. HE HAD INVESTED HEAVILY WITH SIR ROBERT BORTHWICK AS HIS MASTER FOUNDER SMELTING AND FOUNDING CANNON OF VARIOUS SIZES. THE 17 GUNS BROUGHT TO FLODDEN INCLUDED 2 WHICH COULD EACH FIRE A 60LB SHOT. THESE WERE NO DOUBT USED TO GOOD EFFECT IN THE SUCCESSFUL BOMBARDMENT OF NORHAM CASTLE BY JAMES ON HIS WAY SOUTH. HOWEVER, IT TOOK A MASSIVE LOGISTICAL EFFORT TO BRING THE GUNS OVER THE LAMMERMUIRS TO THE BORDER. EACH OF THOSE 60 POUNDERS WAS DRAWN BY 36 OXEN AND A TEAM OF 9 DRIVERS AND 20 PIONEERS AND A TOTAL OF 26 GUNNERS AND 300 OXEN ACCOMPANIED THE SCOTS’ ARTILLERY TRAIN INTO NORTHUMBERLAND.

EARLIER IN HIS REIGN JAMES HAS SEEN THE BENEFIT OF SHIPS AND HAD PROCEEDED TO BUILD AND ACQUIRE WHAT WAS ONE OF THE LARGEST NAVYS IN EUROPE. THE GREAT MICHAEL WASTHE LARGEST SHIP OF ITS DAY COSTING £30,000 SCOTS TO BUILD AND £500 SCOTS A WEEK TO KEEP. THE CHRONICLER ROBERT LINDSAY OF PITSCOTTIE WOULD DESCRIBE IT, AT 240 FEET LONG AND 35 FEET WIDE WITH A CREW OF 300 SAILORS AND 120 GUNNERS AND CAPABLE OF CARRYING 1000 TROOPS, AS:

THE GREATTEST SCHEIP AND MAIST OF STRENGTH THAT EVER SAILLIT IN INGLAND OR FRANCE

UNFORTUNATELY, ALTHOUGH THE CANNON FROM THE GREAT MICHAEL AND OTHER SHIPS IN JAMES’ NAVY WERE BROUGHT ON CAMPAGN, THE SHIPS THEMSELVES WERE NOT MUCH USE IN THE FOOTHILLS OF THE CHEVIOTS!!!

ULTIMATLEY JAMES’ TACTICAL NAIVITY RESULTED IN MUCH OF THE POTENCY OF HIS WEAPONRY BEING NULLIFIED. WHEN HE MOVED OFF FLODDEN HILL TO BRANXTON HILL HIS HEAVY CANNON WERE SLOW TO BE TURNED INTO PLACE AND IN THE OPENING ARTILLERY SALVO THE LIGHTER ONES WERE USED TO POOR EFFECT FIRING OVER THE HEADS OF THE ENGLISH AT THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL. ON THE OTHER HAND, THE ENGLISH CANNON WERE MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE FIRING UPHILL AND SUCCEEDED IN NOT ONLY DESTROYING CANNON BUT ALSO KILLING JAMES’ GUNNERY MASTER.

THE LACK OF EFFECTIVE RECONNISANCE MEANT THAT MOST OF THE SCOTTISH ARMY CAME DOWN BRANXTON HILL – THE EXCPETION WAS THE WEST FLANK UNDER HUNTLY AND HUME – UNAWARE OF THE BOGGY STREAM AT THE BOTTOM WHICH COMPLETELY NEGATED THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE SCHILTONS OF PIKES. THEY LOST SHAPE AND COORDINATION AND SO THE PIKE BECAME A CUMBERSOME BURDEN RATHER THAN AN EFFECTIVE WEAPON OF WAR. IN CONTRAST THE BILLES OF LITTONDALE, ARNCLIFFE AND HAWKSWICK WERE HUGELY EFFECTIVE AT STABBING, HOOKING, CUTTING, SLASHING AND KILLING THE SCOTTISH PIKEMEN.

WHILST SURREY SAT BACK AND PLOTTED AND PLANNED MOVES ON THE FIELD FROM A DISATNCE, THE CHIVALROUS JAMES WAS IN THE THICK OF THE ACTION.THE SPANISH AMBASSADOR PEDRO DE AYALA (AYE ALA) SAID OF HIM:

HE IS NOT A GOOD CAPTAIN BECAUSE HE BEGINS TO FIGHT BEFORE HE HAS GIVEN ORDERS

IT MIGHT BE ARGUED JAMES WAS NOT A GOOD CAPTAIN ON 9TH SEPTEMBER 1513 BECAUSE, FIGHTING WITH HIS MEN IN THE MIDST OF THE BLOOD, SHIT PISS AND GORE OF WAR HE WAS WHOLLY UNABLE TO GIVE ORDERS TO HIS ARMY WITH THE KNOWLEDGE AND AUTHORITY NEEDED.

AND 508 YEARS LATER WE KNOW THE RESULT OF THESE FAILINGS.

THE BANDEROLE I MENTIONED EARLIER, THE ‘FLODDEN FLAG’ AS IT IS KNOWN IN FACULTY, CARRIES THE MOTTO ‘THE TRUTH PREVAILS’.

IT IS TRUE THAT IN HIS 25 YEARS AS THE KING OF SCOTS JAMES WAS A POPULAR KING WHO DID MUCH TO UNIFY HIS COUNTRY, SUCH THAT AT FLODDEN HE LED WHAT CAN TRULY BE DESCRIBED AS A SCOTTISH ARMY. IT IS ALSO TRUE THAT HE DID MUCH TO ADVANCE EDUCATION AND THE ADMINISTARTION OF JUSTICE IN THE COUNTRY.IT IS TRUE THAT FOR THE MOST PART HE MAINTAINED A PEACE WITH ENGLAND AND BY MARRYING HENRY VII’S DAUGHTER WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN FURTHER UNIFYING THE TWO NATIONS IN THE 1603 UNION OF THE CROWNS. AND IT IS TRUE THAT HE TOOK HIS PLACE ON THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE ALONGSIDE THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OF EUROPE.

IT IS HOWEVER AN UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH THAT, WHILE THE ARMY HE LED AT FLODDEN HAD MANY ADVANTAGES OVER ITS FOES, HIS NAIVITY AND HIS ‘LEADERSHIP’ IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE, AT THE CENTRE OF HIS MEN, HIS COUNTRYMEN, DID MUCH TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE DEFEAT THAT DAY.

THE FINAL TRUTH IS THIS GENTS, THAT HAVING MANAGED TO FIND MY OWN CONNECTIONS WITH THE KING I CAN STILL BE PROUD OF MY KELSAE HERITAGE (AND MY PARENTAGE FOR THAT MATTER) AND I CAN ALSO FEEL REASONABLYQUALIFIED TO PROPOSE THIS TOAST – GENTS, STAND AND RAISE YOUR GLASSES:

JAMES IV KING OF SCOTS

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