Tales of a Grandfather, by Walter Scott

Chapter 24

During the season of tranquillity which followed the marriage of James and Margaret, we find that the King, with his Parliament, enacted many good laws for the improvement of the country. The Highlands and Islands were particularly attended to, because, as one of the acts of Parliament expressed it, they had become almost savage for want of justices and sheriffs. Magistrates were therefore appointed, and laws made for the government of those wild and unruly people. Another most important act of Parliament permitted the King, and his nobles and barons, to let their land, not only for military service, but for a payment in money or in grain; a regulation which tended to introduce quiet peaceful farmers into lands occupied, but left uncultivated, by tenants of a military character. Regulations also took place for attendance on Parliament, and the representation of the different orders of society in that assembly. The possessors of lands were likewise called on to plant wood, and make enclosures, fish ponds, and other improvements.

All these regulations show, that the King entertained a sincere wish to benefit his subjects, and entertained liberal views of the mode of accomplishing that object. But the unfortunate country of Scotland was destined never to remain any long time in a state of peace or improvement; and accordingly, towards the end of James’s reign, events occurred which brought on a defeat still more calamitous than any which the kingdom had yet received.

While Henry VII, the father-in-law of James, continued to live, his wisdom made him very attentive to preserve the peace which had been established betwixt the two countries. His character was, indeed, far from being that of a generous prince, but he was a sagacious politician, and granted, from an enlightened view of his own interest, what perhaps he would otherwise have been illiberal enough to refuse. On this principle, he made some allowance for the irritable pride of his son inlaw and his subjects, who were as proud as they were poor, and made it his study to remove all the petty causes of quarrel which arose from time to time. But when this wise and cautious monarch died, he was succeeded by his son Henry VIII, a prince of a bold, haughty, and furious disposition, impatient of control or contradiction, and rather desirous of war than willing to make any concessions for the sake of peace. James IV and he resembled each other perhaps too nearly in temper, to admit of their continuing intimate friends. The military disposition of Henry chiefly directed him to an enterprise against France; and the King of France, on his part, desired much to renew the old alliance with Scotland, in order that the apprehension of an invasion from the Scottish frontiers might induce Henry to abandon his scheme of attacking France. He knew, that the splendour in which King James lived had exhausted the treasures which his father had left behind him, and he concluded that the readiest way to make him his friend, was to supply him with sums of money, which he could not otherwise have raised. Gold was also freely distributed amongst the counsellors and favourites of the Scottish King. This liberality showed to great advantage, when compared with the very opposite conduct of the King of England, who delayed even to pay a legacy, which had been left by Henry his father to his sister the Queen of Scotland.

Other circumstances of a different kind tended to create disagreements between England and Scotland. James had been extremely desirous to increase the strength of his kingdom by sea, and its commerce; and Scotland presenting a great extent of sea-coast, and numerous harbours, had at this time a considerable trade. The royal navy, besides one vessel called the Great Michael, supposed to be the largest in the world, and which, as an old author says, “cumbered all Scotland to get her fitted out for sea,” consisted, it is said, of sixteen ships of war. The King paid particular attention to naval affairs, and seemed never more happy than when inspecting and exercising his little navy. It chanced that one John Barton, a Scottish mariner, had been captured by the Portuguese, as far back as the year 1476. As the King of Portugal refused to make any amends, James granted the family of Barton letters of reprisals, that is, a warrant empowering them to take all Portuguese vessels which should come in their way, until their loss was made up. There were three brothers, all daring men, but especially the eldest, whose name was Andrew Barton. He had two strong ships, the larger called the Lion, the lesser the Jenny Pirwen, with which it would appear he cruized in the British Channel, stopping not only Portuguese vessels, but also English ships bound for Portugal. Complaints being made to King Henry, he fitted out two vessels, which were filled with chosen men, and placed under the command of Lord Thomas Howard and Sir Edward Howard, both, sons to the Earl of Surrey. They found Barton and his vessels cruizing in the Downs, being guided to the place by the captain of a merchant vessel, whom Barton had plundered on the preceding day. On approaching the enemy, the noble brothers showed no ensign of war, but put up a willow wand on their masts, as being the emblem of a trading vessel(July 1511). But when the Scotsman attempted to make them bring to, the English threw out their flags and pennons, and fired a broadside of their ordnance. Barton then knew that he was engaged with the King of England’s ships of war. Far from being dismayed at this, he engaged boldly, and, distinguished by his rich dress and bright armour, appeared on deck with a whistle of gold about his neck, suspended by a chain of the same precious metal, and encouraged his men to fight valiantly.

The fight was very obstinate. If we may believe a ballad of the time, Barton’s ship was furnished with a peculiar contrivance, suspending large weights, or beams, from his yard-arms, to be dropped down upon the enemy when they should come alongside. To make use of this contrivance; it was necessary that a person should ascend the mainmast, or in naval language, go aloft. As the English apprehended much mischief from the consequences of this manoeuvre, Howard had stationed a Yorkshire gentleman, named Hustler, the best archer in the ship, with strict injunctions to shoot every one who should attempt to go aloft to let fall the beams of Barton’s vessel. Two men were successively killed in the attempt, and Andrew Barton himself, confiding in the strong armour which he wore, began to ascend the mast. Lord Thomas Howard called out to the archer to shoot true, on peril of his life, “Were I to die for it,” said Hustler, “ I have but two arrows left.” The first which he shot bounded from Barton’s armour without hurting him; but as the Scottish mariner raised his arm to climb higher, the archer took aim where the armour afforded him no protection, and wounded him mortally through the arm-pit. Barton descended from the mast. “Fight on,” he said, “my brave hearts; I am a little wounded, but not slain. I will but rest a while, and then rise and fight again; mean time, stand fast by Saint Andrew’s Cross,” meaning the Scottish flag, or ensign. He encouraged his men with his whistle, while the breath of life remained. At length the whistle was heard no longer, and the Howards, boarding the Scottish vessel, found that her daring captain was dead. They carried the Lion into the Thames, and it is remarkable that Barton’s ship became the second man-of-war in the English navy. When the Kings wanted to equip a fleet, they hired or pressed into their service merchant vessels, and put soldiers on board of them. The ship called the Great Henry was the first built especially for war, by the King, as his own property, — this captured vessel was the second. James lV was highly incensed at this insult, as be termed it, on the flag of Scotland, and sent a herald to demand satisfaction. The king of England justified his conduct on the ground of Barton’s being a pirate, — a charge which James could not justly deny; but he remained not the less heated and incensed against his brother-in-law. Another misfortune aggravated his resentment, though the subject of misunderstanding was of ancient date. While Henry VII was yet alive, Sir Robert Ker of Fairniehirst, chief of one branch of the clan of Ker, an officer of James’s household, and a favourite of that monarch, held the office of warden on the Middle Marches of Scotland. In exercising this office with rather unusual strictness, he had given offence to some of the more turbulent English Borderers, who resolved to assassinate him. Three of these, namely Heron, called the Bastard, because a natural brother of Heron of Ford, with Starhed and Lilburn, surrounded the Scottish warden, at a meeting upon a day of truce, and killed him with their lances.

Henry VII, with the pacific policy which marked his proceedings towards Scotland; agreed to surrender the guilty persons. Lilburn was given up to King James, and died in captivity; Starhed escaped for a time, by flying into the interior parts of England; the Bastard Heron caused it to be rumoured that he was dead of the plague, and made himself be transported in a coffin, so that he passed unsuspected through the party sent to arrest him, and skulked on the Borders, waiting for a quarrel between the kingdoms, which might make it safe for him to show himself. Henry VII, anxious to satisfy James, arrested his legitimate brother, and Heron of Ford was delivered up instead of the Bastard. But when Henry VIII and James were about to disagree, both the Bastard Heron and Starhed began to show themselves more publicly. Starhed was soon disposed of, for Sir Andrew, commonly called Dand Ker, the son of the murdered Sir Robert, sent two of his dependents, called Tait, to accomplish his vengeance upon the English Borderer. They surprised and put him to death accordingly, and brought his head to their patron, who exposed it publicly at the cross of Edinburgh, exulting in the revenge he had taken. But the Bastard Heron continued to rove about the Border, and James lV made the public appearance of this criminal a subject of complaint against Henry VIII, who perhaps was not justly responsible for it.

While James was thus on bad terms with his brother-in-law, France left no measures unattempted which could attach Scotland to her side. Great sums of money were sent to secure the good-will of those courtiers in whom James most confided. The Queen of France, a young and beautiful princess, flattered James’s taste for romantic gallantry, by calling herself his mistress and lady-love, and conjuring him to march three miles upon English ground for her sake. She sent him, at the same time, a ring from her own finger; and her intercession was so powerful, that James thought he could not in honour dispense with her request. This fantastical spirit of chivalry was his own ruin, and very nearly that of the kingdom also. At length, in June or July, 1513, Henry VIII sailed to France with a gallant army, where he formed the siege of Terouenne. James IV now took a decided step. He sent over his principal herald to the camp of King Henry before Terouenne, summoning him in haughty terms to abstain from aggressions against James’s ally, the King of France, and upbraiding him, at the same time, with the death of Barton, the impunity of the Bastard Heron, the detention of the legacy of Henry VII to his daughter the Scottish Queen, and all the subjects of quarrel which had occurred since the death of that monarch. Henry VIII answered this letter, which he justly considered as a declaration of war, with equal bitterness, treating the King of Scots as a perjured man, because he was about to break the peace which he had solemnly sworn to observe. His summons he rejected with scorn. “The King of Scotland was not,” he said, “of sufficient importance to determine the quarrel between England and France.” The Scottish herald returned with this message, but not in time to find his master alive. James had not awaited the return of his embassy to commence hostilities. Lord Home, his lord high chamberlain, had made an incursion into England with an army of about three or four thousand men. They collected great booty; but marching carelessly and without order, fell into an ambush of the English Borderers, concealed among the tall broom, by which Millfield plain, near Wooler, was then covered. The Scots sustained a total defeat, and lost near a third of their numbers in slain and wounded. This was a bad commencement of the war.

Mean while James, contrary to the advice of his wisest counsellors, determined to invade England with a royal army. The Parliament were unwilling to go into the King’s measures. The tranquillity of the country, ever since the peace with England, was recollected, and as the impolitic claim of the supremacy seemed to be abandoned, little remained to stir up the old animosity between the kingdoms. The King, however, was personally so much liked, that he obtained the consent of the Parliament to this fatal and unjust war; and orders were given to assemble all the array of the kingdom of Scotland upon the Borough-moor of Edinburgh, a wide common, in the midst of which the royal standard was displayed from a large stone, or fragment of rock, called the Hare-stone. Various measures were even in this extremity resorted to for preventing the war. One or two of them seem to have been founded upon a knowledge, that the King’s temper was tinged with a superstitious melancholy, partly arising from constitutional habits, partly from the remorse which he always entertained for his accession to his father’s death. It was to these feelings that the following scene was doubtless addressed:— As the King was at his devotions in the church of Linlithgow, a figure, dressed in an azure-coloured robe, girt with a girdle, or sash of linen, having sandals on his feet, with long yellow hair, and a grave commanding countenance, suddenly appeared before him. This singular-looking person paid little or no respect to the royal presence, but pressing up to the desk at which the King was seated, leaned down on it with his arms, and addressed him with little reverence. He declared, that “his Mother laid her commands on James to forbear the journey which he purposed, seeing that neither he, nor any who went with him, would thrive in the undertaking.” He also cautioned the King against frequenting the society of women, and using their counsel; “If thou dost,” said he, “thou shalt be confounded and brought to shame.” These words spoken, the messenger escaped from among the courtiers so suddenly, that he seemed to disappear. There is no doubt that this person had been dressed up to represent Saint John, called in Scripture the adopted son of the Virgin Mary. The Roman Catholics believed in the possibility of the souls of departed saints and apostles appearing on earth, and many impostures are recorded in history of the same sort with that I have just told you.

Another story, not so well authenticated, says, that a proclamation was heard at the market-cross of Edinburgh, at the dead of night, summoning the King, by his name and titles, and many of his nobles and principal leaders, to appear before the tribunal of Pluto within the space of forty days. This also has the appearance of a stratagem, invented to deter the King from his expedition. But neither these artifices, nor the advice and entreaty of Margaret, the Queen of Scotland, could deter James from his unhappy expedition. He was so well beloved, that he soon assembled a great army, and placing himself at their head, he entered England near the castle of Twisell, on the 22d of August, 1513. He speedily obtained possession of the Border fortresses of Norham, Wark, Etall, Ford, and others of less note, and collected a great spoil. Instead, however, of advancing with his army upon the country of England, which lay defenceless before him, the King is said to have trifled away his time in an intercourse of gallantry with Lady Heron of Ford, a beautiful woman, who contrived to divert him from the prosecution of his expedition until the approach of an English army. While James lay thus idle on the frontier, the Earl of Surrey, that same noble and gallant knight who had formerly escorted Queen Margaret to Scotland, now advanced at the head of an army of twenty-six thousand men. The earl was joined by his son Thomas, the lord high admiral, with a large body of soldiers who had been disembarked at Newcastle. As the warlike inhabitants of the northern counties gathered fast to Surrey’s standard, so, on the other hand, the Scots began to return home in great numbers; because, though, according to the feudal laws, each man had brought with him provisions for forty days, these being now nearly expended, a scarcity began to be felt in James’s host. Others went home to place their booty in safety.

Surrey, feeling himself the stronger party, became desirous to provoke the Scottish King to fight. He therefore sent James a message, defying him to battle; and the Lord Thomas Howard, at the same time, added a message, that as King James had often complained of the death of Andrew Barton, he, Lord Thomas, by whom that deed was done, was now ready to maintain it with his sword in the front of the fight. James returned for answer, that to meet the English in battle was so much his wish, that had the message of the earl found him at Edinburgh, he would have laid aside all other business to have met him on a pitched field.

But the Scottish nobles entertained a very different opinion from their King. They held a council, at which Lord Patrick Lindsay was made president, or chancellor. This was the same person, who, in the beginning of the King’s reign, had pleaded so well for his brother, to whose titles and estate he afterwards succeeded. He opened the discussion, by telling the council a parable of a rich merchant, who would needs go to play at dice with a common hazarder, or sharper, and stake a rose-noble of gold against a crooked halfpenny. “You, my lords,” he said, “ will be as unwise as the merchant, if you risk your King, whom I compare to a precious rose-noble, against the English general, who is but an old crooked churl, lying in a chariot. Though the English lose the day, they lose nothing but this old churl and a parcel of mechanics; whereas so many of our common people have gone home, that few are left with us but the prime of our nobility.” He therefore gave it as his advice, that the King should withdraw from the army, for safety of his person, and that some brave nobleman should he named by the council, to command in the action. The council agreed to recommend this plan to the King. But James, who desired to gain fame by his own military skill and prowess, suddenly broke in on the council, and told them, with much heat, that they should not put such a disgrace upon him. “I will fight with the English,” he said, “though you had all sworn the contrary. You may shame yourselves by flight, but you shall not shame me; and as for Lord Patrick Lindsay, who has got the first vote, I vow, that when I return to Scotland, I will cause him to be hanged over his own gate.” In this rash and precipitate resolution to fight at all risks, the King was much supported by the French ambassador, De la Motte. This was remarked by one of our old acquaintances, the Earl of Angus, called Bell-the-Cat, who, though very old, had come out to the field with his sovereign. He charged the Frenchman with being willing to sacrifice the interests of Scotland to those of his own country, which required that the Scots and English should fight at all hazards; and Angus, like Lord Lindsay, alleged the difference between the parties, the English being many of them men but of mean rank, and the Scottish army being the flower of their nobility and gentry. Incensed at his opposition, James said to him scornfully, “Angus, if you are afraid, you may go home.” The earl, on receiving such an insult, left the camp that night; but his two sons remained, and fell in the fatal battle, with two hundred of the name of Douglas.

While King James was in this stubborn humour, the Earl of Surrey had advanced as far as Wooler, so that only four or five miles divided the armies. The English leader enquired anxiously for some guide, who was acquainted with the country, which is intersected and divided by one or two large brooks, which unite to form the river Till, and is, besides, in part mountainous. A person well mounted, and completely armed, but having the visor of his helmet lowered, to conceal his face, rode up, and then dismounting, knelt down before the earl, and offered to be his guide, if he might obtain pardon of an offence of which he had been guilty. The earl assured him of his forgiveness, providing he had not committed treason against the King of England, or personally wronged any lady — crimes which Surrey declared he would not pardon. “God forbid,” said the cavalier, “that I should have been guilty of such shameful sin; I did but assist in killing a Scotsman who ruled our Borders too strictly, and often did wrong to Englishmen.” So saying, he raised the visor of his helmet, which hid his face, and showed the countenance of the Bastard Heron, who had been a partner in the assassination of Sir Robert Ker, as you were told before. His appearance was most welcome to the Earl of Surrey, who readily pardoned him the death of a Scotsman at that moment, especially since he knew him to be as well acquainted with every pass and path on the eastern frontier, as a life of constant incursion and depredation could make him.

The Scottish army had fixed their camp upon a hill called Flodden, which rises to close in, as it were, the extensive flat called Millfield Plain (6 Sept.). This eminence slopes steeply towards the plain, and there is an extended piece of level ground on the top, where the Scots might have drawn up their army, and awaited at great advantage the attack of the English. Surrey liked the idea of venturing an assault on that position so ill, that he resolved to try whether he could not prevail on the King to abandon it. He sent a herald to invite James to come down from the height, and join battle in the open plain of Millfield below — reminded him of the readiness with which be had accepted his former challenge — and hinted, that it was the opinion of the English chivalry assembled for battle, that any delay of the encounter would sound to the King’s dishonour. We have seen that James was sufficiently rash and imprudent, but his impetuosity did not reach to the pitch Surrey perhaps expected. He refused to receive the messenger into his presence, and returned for answer to the message, that it was not such as it became an earl to send to a king. Surrey, therefore, distressed for provision, was obliged to resort to another mode of bringing the Scots to action (9 Sept.). He moved northward, sweeping round the hill of Flodden, keeping out of the reach of the Scottish artillery, until, crossing the Till near Twisell castle, he placed himself, with his whole army, betwixt James and his own kingdom. The King suffered him to make this flank movement without interruption, though it must have afforded repeated and advantageous opportunities for attack. But when he saw the English army interposed betwixt him and his dominions, he became alarmed lest he should be cut off from Scotland. In this apprehension he was confirmed by one Giles Musgrave, an Englishman, whose counsel he used upon the occasion, and who assured him, that if he did not descend and fight with the English army, the Earl of Surrey would enter Scotland, and lay waste the whole country. Stimulated by this apprehension, the King resolved to give signal for the fatal battle. With this view the Scots set fire to their huts, and the other refuse and litter of their camp. The smoke spread along the side of the hill, and under its cover the army of King James descended the eminence, which is much less steep on the northern than the southern side, while the English advanced to meet them, both concealed from each other by the clouds of smoke.

The Scots descended in four strong columns, all marching parallel to each other, having a reserve of the Lothian men commanded by Earl Bothwell. The English were also divided into four bodies with a reserve of cavalry led by Dacre. The battle commenced at the hour of four in the afternoon. The first which encountered was the left wing of the Scots, commanded by the Earl of Huntly and Lord Home, which overpowered and threw into disorder the right wing of the English, under Sir Edmund Howard. Sir Edmund was beaten down, his standard taken, and he himself in danger of instant death, when he was relieved by the Bastard Heron, who came up at the head of a band of determined outlaws like himself, and extricated Howard. It is objected to the Lord Home by many Scottish writers, that be ought to have improved his advantage, by hastening to the support of the next division of the Scottish army. It is even pretended, that he replied to those who urged him to go to the assistance of the King, that “the man did well that day who stood and saved himself.” But this seems invented, partly to criminate Home, and partly to account for the loss of the battle in some other way than by the superiority of the English. In reality, the English cavalry, under Dacre, which acted as a reserve, appear to have kept the victors in check; while Thomas Howard, the lord high admiral, who commanded the second division of the English, bore down, and routed the Scottish division commanded by Crawford and Montrose, who were both slain. Thus matters went on the Scottish left. Upon the extreme right of James’s army, a division of Highlanders, consisting of the clans of MacKenzie, MacLean, and others, commanded by the Earls of Lennox and Argyle, were so insufferably annoyed by the volleys of the English arrows, that they broke their ranks, and, in despite of the cries, entreaties, and signals of De la Motte, the French ambassador, who endeavoured to stop them, rushed tumultuously down hill, and being attacked at once in flank and rear by Sir Edward Stanley, with the men of Cheshire und Lancashire, were routed with great slaughter. The only Scottish division which remains to be mentioned, was commanded by James in person, and consisted of the choicest of his nobles and gentry, whose armour was so good, that the arrows made but slight impression upon them. They were all on foot — the King himself had parted with his horse. They engaged the Earl of Surrey, who opposed to them the division which he personally commanded. The Scots attacked with the greatest fury, and, for a time, had the better. Surrey’s squadrons were disordered, his standard in great danger, Bothwell and the Scottish reserve were advancing, and the English seemed in some risk of losing the battle. But Stanley, who had defeated the Highlanders, came up on one flank of the King’s division; the admiral, who had conquered Crawford and Montrose, assailed them on the other. The Scots showed the most undaunted courage. Uniting themselves with the reserve under Bothwell, they formed into a circle, with their spears extended on every side, and fought obstinately. Bows being now useless, the English advanced on all sides with their bills, a huge weapon which made ghastly wounds. But they could not force the Scots either to break or retire, although the carnage among them was dreadful. James himself died amid his warlike peers and loyal gentry. He was twice wounded with arrows, and at length despatched with a bill. Night fell without the battle being absolutely decided, for the Scottish centre kept their ground, and Home and Dacre held each other at bay. But during the night, the remainder of the Scottish army drew off in silent despair from the bloody field; on which they left their King, and their choicest nobles and gentlemen.

This great and decisive victory was gained by the Earl of Surrey on 9th September, 1513. The victors had about five thousand men slain, the Scots twice that number at least. But the loss lay not so much in the number of the slain, as in their rank and quality. The English lost very few men of distinction. The Scots left on the field the King, two bishops, two mitred Abbots, twelve earls, thirteen lords, and five eldest sons of peers. The number of gentlemen slain was beyond calculation; — there is scarcely a family of name in Scottish history who did not lose a relative there. The Scots were much disposed to dispute the fact, that James IV. had fallen on Flodden Field. Some said, he had retired from the kingdom, and made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Others pretended, that in the twilight, when the fight was nigh ended, four tall horsemen came into the field, having each a bunch of straw on the point of their spears, as a token for them to know each other by. They said these men mounted the King on a dun hackney, and that he was seen to cross the Tweed with them at night-fall. Nobody pretended to say what they did with him, but it was believed he was murdered in Home castle; and I recollect, about forty years since, that there was a report, that in cleaning the draw-well of that ruinous fortress, the workmen found a skeleton wrapt in a bull’s hide, and having a belt of iron round the waist. There was, however, no truth in this rumour. It was the absence of this belt of iron which the Scots founded upon to prove, that the body of James could not have fallen into the hands of the English, since they either had not that token to show, or did not produce it. They contended, therefore, that the body over which the enemy triumphed, was not that of James himself, but of one of his attendants, several of whom, they said, were dressed in his armour.

But all these are idle fables, invented and believed because the vulgar love what is mysterious, and the Scots readily gave credit to what tended to deprive their enemies of so signal a trophy of victory. The reports are contrary to common sense. Lord Home was the chamberlain of James IV, and high in his confidence. He had nothing whatever to gain by the King’s death, and therefore we must acquit him of a great crime, for which there could be no adequate motive. The consequence of James’s death proved, in fact, to be the earl’s ruin, as we shall see presently. It seems true, that the King usually wore the belt of iron in token of his repentance, for his father’s death, and the share he had in it. But it is not unlikely that he would lay aside such a cumbrous article of penance in a day of battle; or the English, when they despoiled his person, may have thrown it aside as of no value. The body which the English affirm to have been that of James, was found on the field by Lord Dacre, and carried by him to Berwick, and presented to Surrey. Both of these lords knew James’s person too well to be mistaken. The body was also acknowledged by his two favourite attendants, Sir William Scott and Sir John Forman. who wept at beholding it. The fate of these relics was singular and degrading. They were not committed to the tomb, for the Pope, being at that time in alliance with England against France, had laid James under a sentence of excommunication, so that no priest dared pronounce the funeral-service over them. The royal corpse was therefore embalmed, and sent to the Monastery of Sheen, in Surrey. It lay there till the Reformation, when the monastery was given to the Duke of Suffolk; and after that period, the body, which was lapped up in a sheet of lead, was suffered to toss about the house like a piece of useless lumber. Stow, the historian, saw it flung into a waste room among old pieces of wood, lead, and other rubbish. Some idle workmen, “for their foolish pleasure,” says the same writer, “hewed off the head; and one Lancelot Young, master-glazier to Queen Elizabeth, finding a sweet smell come from thence, owing, doubtless, to the spices used for embalming the body, carried the head home, and kept it for some time; but in the end, caused the sexton of Saint Michael’s, Wood street, to bury it in the charnel-house.” Such was the end of that King once so proud and powerful. The fatal battle of Flodden, in which he was slain, and his army destroyed, is justly considered as one of the most calamitous events in Scottish history.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00