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Reign of Henry the Eighth page 5

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We have seen that James IV. of Scotland sent his declaration of war to Henry whilst he was engaged at the siege of Terouenne. We have enumerated some of the causes of complaint which James deemed he had against Henry; amongst others, the refusal to deliver up the jewels left by Henry's father to the Queen Margaret of Scotland - a truly dishonest act on the part of the English monarch, who, with all the wasteful prodigality peculiar to himself, inherited the avaricious disposition of his

father. No sooner, therefore, did Henry set out for France, than James dispatched a fleet with a body of 3,000 men to the aid of Louis, and by his herald at Terouenne, after detailing the catalogue of his own grievances, demanded that Henry should evacuate France, This haughty message received as haughty a reply, but James did not live to receive it.

In August, whilst Henry still lay before Terouenne, on the very same day that the Scottish herald left that place with his answer, the peace betwixt England and Scotland was broken by Lord Home, chamberlain to King James, who crossed the border, and made a devastating raid on the defenceless inhabitants. His band of marauders was met by Sir William Bulmer, on their return, loaded with plunder, who slew 500 of his men upon the spot, and took 400 of them prisoners. Called to immediate action by this disaster, James collected his host on Burrow Moor, such an army as, say the writers of the time, never gathered round a king of Scotland. Some state it at 100,000 men; the lowest calculation is 80,000. But if this be true, what becomes of all the assertions that James undertook this enterprise in obstinate opposition to the entreaties, the protests, and the prognostics of his subjects? What becomes of all the charges of blind rashness against James, of the lamentations over the calamities with which he afflicted Scotland by madly rushing on the warfare? We are told by the chroniclers of the times that heaven, as well as earth, strove to deter him from the step, but in vain. That the queen and the wisest of the nobles strove to dissuade him by representing that he had but one child, a son of only sixteen months old, and that, should he fall, he would leave the kingdom and his family exposed to every evil. That the tears and vehement entreaties of his wife failing of effect, the patron saint of Scotland appeared to him at vespers in the church of Linlithgow, in the guise of an old man of venerable aspect, with a long beard, arrayed in a gown of azure hue, girt about the loins with a white sash, who, as he leaned on his staff, declared that he was sent from heaven, to warn him from prosecuting the war, for it would be unfortunate; and to beware of the fascinations of woman on the way, for they would be fatal. That James, when the vespers were concluded, called for the ancient messenger, but he could not be found, but that at the dead of the night an awful supernatural voice at the cross of Edinburgh summoned the principal lords by name, to appear before the Judge of the dead. These were probably the artifices of the queen, who shuddered at this deadly strife betwixt her husband and her brother; but that the nation at large was eager for this demonstration against England, nothing is so convincing as the numbers which hurried to James's standard.

James passed the Tweed on the 22nd of August, and on that and the following day encamped at Twisel-haugh. On the 24th, with the consent of his nobles, he issued a declaration that the heirs of all who were killed or who died in that expedition, should be exempt from all charges for wardship, relief, or marriage, without regard to their age. He then advanced up the right bank of the Tweed, and attacked the border castle of Norham. This strong fortress was expected to detain the army some time, but the governor, rashly improvident of his ammunition, was compelled to surrender on the fifth day, August 29th, Wark, Etall, Heaton, and Ford castles, places of no great consequence, soon followed the example of Norham. Very different accounts are given of what took place at Ford. Some historians say that James spared it in consequence of the blandishments of Dame Heron, the wife of William Heron, the owner of the castle; and that James, lingering there, fascinated by her charms, both allowed his enemies time to gather strength, and occasioned numbers of his followers to desert and return home. But others, and with far more probability, assert that, on the contrary, James refused to listen to any terms from the Herons. One of the bitterest causes of his complaint against Henry VIII. was that John Heron, a bastard brother of this William Heron, had killed James's favourite, Sir Robert Her, and that, having fled to England, Henry refused to surrender him. William Heron was at this moment a prisoner in Scotland, and Dame Heron, in his absence, fled to Surrey, and obtained from him the promise to give up two Scottish prisoners of importance, the Lord Johnstone and Alexander Home, on condition that James spared the castle of Ford, and liberated William Heron, her husband. James appears to have refused, rejected the exchange of prisoners, and razed Ford Castle to the ground. That done, James fixed his camp on Flodden Hill, the east spur of the Cheviot Mountains, with the deep river Till flowing at his feet to join the neighbouring Tweed. In that strong position he awaited the approach of the English army.

The Earl of Surrey, commissioned by Henry on his departure expressly to arm the northern counties and defend the frontiers from an irruption of the Scots, no sooner heard of the muster of James on Burrow Moor, than he dispatched messages to all the noblemen and gentlemen of those counties to assemble their forces, and meet him on the 1st of September at Newcastle-on-Tyne. He marched out of York on the 27th of August, and, though the weather was very wet and stormy, and the roads consequently very bad, he marched day and night till he reached Durham. There he received the news that the Scots had taken Norham, which the commander had bragged he would hold against all comers till Henry returned from France. Receiving the banner of St. Cuthbert from the Prior of Durham, Surrey marched to Newcastle, where a council of war was held, and the troops from all parts were appointed to assemble on the 4th of September at Bolton, in Glendale, about twenty miles from Ford, where the Scots were said to be lying.

On the 4th of September, before Surrey had left Aln-wick, which he had reached the evening before, he was joined, to his great encouragement, by his gallant son, Lord Thomas Howard, the Admiral of England, with a choice body of 5,000 men, whom Henry had dispatched from France. From Alnwick the earl sent a herald to the Scottish king to reproach him with his breach of faith to his brother, the King of England, and to offer him battle on Friday, the 9th, if he dared to wait so long for his arrival. The lord admiral also bade the herald say from him that he had come to justify the slaughter of the pirate, Andrew Barton, with which James had charged him, and that he would take no quarter and give none to any one but the king. James denied the breach of faith, charged that on Henry, assured the herald that he should wait for Lord Surrey, and took no notice of the message of his son, the admiral.

During the interval betwixt this defiance and the appearance of the English, the minds of the Scottish nobles appear to have misgiven their, and they endeavoured to persuade James that he had already done enough in taking and destroying the King of England's castles, and gathering much plunder. Lord Patrick Lindsay represented, by a parable, the inequality of the stakes - the life and fortunes of the King of Scotland against those of an inferior man. James threatened that, if he lived to return, he would hang up Lindsay before his own castle. The Earl of Angus, the well-known Bell-the-Cat, supported Lindsay, and repeated that the English army consisted for the most part of men of mean rank, the Scottish one of the flower of the nobility and gentlemen of the kingdom. James, irritated at this opposition, said, scornfully, "Angus, if you are afraid, you may be gone." At this, the old earl burst into tears, and replied that, his counsel being despised, and his age forbidding his services on the field, he would withdraw, but would leave his two sons with the vassals of the Douglas, and his prayer that old Angus's foreboding might prove unfounded.

By this time, the 6th of September, the Earl of Surrey had reached Wooller-haugh, within three miles of the Scottish camp. Perceiving the difficulty of the ground betwixt him and them, intersected by several brooks, which united to form the river Till, Surrey anxiously inquired for an experienced guide, and the Bastard Heron, who was following the army, but in disguise, offered his services, at which Surrey was greatly rejoiced, aware that he was intimately familiar with the whole neighbourhood. When Surrey came in sight of the Scottish camp, he was greatly struck with the formidable nature of James's position, and sent a messenger to him charging him with having shifted his ground after having accepted the challenge, and called upon him to come down into the spacious plain of Millfield, where both armies could contend on more equal terms, the army of Surrey only amounting to 25,000 men. James, resenting this accusation, refused to admit the herald to his presence, but sent him word that he had sought no undue advantage, should seek none, and that it did not become an earl to send such a message to a king.

This endeavour to induce James by his high, and often imprudent, sense of honour, to weaken his position, not succeeding, on the 8th, Surrey, at the suggestion of his son, the lord admiral, adopted a fresh stratagem. He inarched northward, sweeping round the hill of Flodden, crossed the Till near Twisell Castle, and thus placed the whole of his army between James and Scotland. From that point they directed their march as if intending to cross the Tweed, and enter Scotland. On the morning of Friday, the 9th, leaving their night halt at Barmoor Wood, they continued this course, till the Scots were greatly alarmed lest the English should plunder the fertile country of the Merse, and they implored the king to descend and fight in defence of his country. Moved by these representations, and this being the day on which Surrey had promised to fight him, he ordered his army to set fire to their tents with all the litter and refuse of the camp, so as to make a great smoke, under which they might descend, unperceived, on the English. But no sooner did the English perceive this, than also availing themselves of the obscurity of the smoke, they wheeled about, and made once more for the Till. As the reek blew aside, they were observed in the very act of crossing the narrow bridge of Twisell, and Robert Borthwick, the commander of James's artillery, fell on his knees and implored his sovereign to allow him to turn all the fire of his cannon on the bridge, which he would destroy, and prevent the passage of Surrey's host. But James, with that romantic spirit of chivalry which seems to have possessed him to a degree of insanity, is said to have replied, "Fire one shot on the bridge, and I will command you to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. I will have all my enemies before me, and fight them fairly."

Thus the English host defiled over the bridge at leisure, and drew up in a long double line, consisting of a centre and two wings, with a strong body of cavalry, under Lord Dacre, in the rear. They beheld the Scots, in like form, descending the hill in solemn silence. The two conflicting armies came into action about four o'clock in the afternoon by the mutual discharge of their artillery. The thunder and concussion were terrific, but it was soon seen that the guns of the Scots being placed too high, their balls passed over the heads of their opponents, whilst those of the English, sweeping up the hill, did hideous execution, and made the Scots impatient to come to closer fight. The master gunner of Scotland was soon slain, his men driven from their guns, whilst the shot of the English continued to strike into the very heart of the battle. The left wing of the Scots, under the Earl of Huntley and Lord Home, came first into contact with the right wing of the English, and fighting on foot with long spears, they charged the enemy with such impetuosity, that Sir Edmund Howard, the commander of that wing, was borne down, his banner flung to the earth, and his lines broken into utter confusion. But at this critical moment Sir Edmund and his division were suddenly succoured by the Bastard Heron, who appeared at the head of a body of daring outlaws, like himself; this movement was supported by the advance of the second division of the English right wing, under the Lord Admiral, who attacked Home and Huntley, and these again were followed by the cavalry of Lord Dacre's reserve.

The Highlanders, under Home and Huntley, when they overthrew Sir Edmund Howard, imagined that they had won the victory, and fell eagerly to stripping and plundering the slain; but they soon found enough to do to defend themselves, and the battle then raged with desperate energy. At length the Scottish left gave way, and the lord admiral and the cavalry of Dacre next fell on the division under the Earls of Crawford and Montrose, both of whom were slain.

In this part of the battle, Lord Home has been accused of not supporting his fellow officers as he ought to have done, but Sir Walter Scott suggests that this, from, all that appears, seems merely to have been invented by the Scotch to account for the defeat by some other means than the superiority of the English.

On the extreme right wing of the Scottish army fought the clans of the Macleans, the Mackenzies, the Campbells, and Macleods, under the Earls of Lennox and Argyle. These encountered the stout bowmen of Lancashire and Cheshire, under Sir Edward Stanley, who galled the half-naked Highlanders so intolerably with their arrows, that they flung down their targets, and dashed forward with claymore and axe pell-mell amongst the enemy. The French commissioner, De la Motte, who was present, astounded at this display of wild passion and savage insubordination, assisted by other French officers, shouted, stormed, gesticulated, to check the disorderly rabble, and restrain them in their ranks. In vain! The English, for a moment surprised by this sudden, furious onslaught, yet kept their ranks unbroken, and, advancing like a solid wall, flung back their disintegrated assailants, swept them before them, and dispatched them piece-meal. The Earls of Argyle and Lennox perished in the midst of their unmanageable men.

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