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May 24, 2013

September 9th this year marks the 500th anniversary of the disastrous defeat of the Scottish army of King James IV on Flodden field in Northumberland. James had declared war on England in support of the French, as a result of treaties often described as the ‘auld alliance’.

Four months earlier a letter shows that James was keen to avoid this war with his neighbour, and brother - in - law, King Henry VIII, the Tudor king of England. James indeed suggested that the English and Scottish forces would be better employed fighting in alliance in a Christian crusade.

 On 24 May 1513, James sent a letter to Henry by ‘our herald the bearer’. This informed Henry that James had received a request from France asking for Scottish support if England continued hostilities with France. James suggests that it would be better for Christian states to seek ‘universale peax’ and instead to mount an ‘expedicioun aganis the Infidelis’. He argued that ‘valiant knithts’, who would perish on both sides if war continued, had better be engaged against the enemies of Christ.

In conclusion he expresses his sympathy for the recent death of an English Admiral at the hands of the French, and reminds Henry of the family ties that bind them through his marriage to Henry’s sister, Margaret Tudor:

‘Begs Henry to take this in good part, for verily he is sorry for this loss, throu acquentance we had of his fader, that noble knitht, wha convoyt oure derrest fallow the Qwene unto us. Given under our signet at our palace of Edinburgh, 24 May’.

Letter: 'Henry VIII: May 1513, 21-31', Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 1: 1509-1514 (1920), pp. 869-887. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=102686
 

Illustrations of Henry, James, and Margaret courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/



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