Fatal Rivalry: Flodden, 1513: Henry VIII and James IV and the Decisive Battle for Renaissance Britain

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Flodden 1513: the biggest and bloodiest Anglo-Scottish battle. Its causes spanned many centuries; its consequences were as extraordinary as the battle itself.
On September 9, 1513, the vicious rivalry between the young Henry VIII of England and his charismatic brother-in-law, James IV of Scotland, ended in violence at Flodden Field in the north of England. It was the inevitable climax to years of mounting personal and political tension through ...

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Fatal Rivalry: Flodden, 1513: Henry VIII and James IV and the Decisive Battle for Renaissance Britain

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Flodden 1513: the biggest and bloodiest Anglo-Scottish battle. Its causes spanned many centuries; its consequences were as extraordinary as the battle itself.
On September 9, 1513, the vicious rivalry between the young Henry VIII of England and his charismatic brother-in-law, James IV of Scotland, ended in violence at Flodden Field in the north of England. It was the inevitable climax to years of mounting personal and political tension through which James bravely asserted Scotland’s independence and Henry demanded its obedience.
In Fatal Rivalry, George Goodwin, the best-selling author of Fatal Colours, captures the vibrant Renaissance splendor of the royal courts of England and Scotland, with their unprecedented wealth, innovation, and artistic expression. He shows how the wily Henry VII, far from the miser king of tradition, spent vast sums to secure his throne and elevate the monarchy to a new standard of magnificence among the courts of Europe. He demonstrates how James IV competed with the elder Henry, even claiming that Arthurian legend supported a separate Scottish identity. Such rivalry served as a substitute for war—until Henry VIII’s belligerence forced the real thing.As England and Scotland scheme toward their biggest-ever battle, Goodwin deploys a fascinating and treacherous cast of characters: maneuvering ministers, cynical foreign allies, conspiring cardinals, and contrasting queens in Katherine of Aragon and Margaret Tudor.Finally, at Flodden on September 9, 1513, King James seems poised for the crushing victory that will confirm him as Scotland’s greatest king and—if an old military foe proves unable to stop him—put all of Britain in his grasp.Five hundred years after this decisive battle, Fatal Rivalry combines original sources and modern scholarship to re-create the royal drama, the military might, and the world in transition that created this bitter conflict.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Much has been written about Mary, Queen of Scots, and the rivalry between her and her cousin, Elizabeth I of England, which ended in Mary’s execution. But this was not the only fraught relationship between a 16th-century Scottish monarch and an English one that culminated in bloodshed. British historian Goodwin (Fatal Colours: Towton 1461) explores an earlier rivalry that played an influential role in the conglomeration of Great Britain 200 years later. While England’s Henry VII sought to keep the peace, even giving his daughter Margaret in marriage to Scotland’s James IV, Henry VIII took the English throne in 1509 as a teenager eager for glory. The monarchic brothers-in-law had much in common, and both were “masters of majestic display,” argues Goodwin, but while the more mature James regarded the display of might as “a substitute for war,” Henry regarded it as preparation for battle. Goodwin’s detailed account of the events leading up to the clash at Flodden on Sept. 9, 1513, places James at the center of the story, and it provides a fresh and provocative take on the intertwined histories of Tudor England and Stuart Scotland. 8 pages of color, 8 pages of b&w illus. (Aug.)
“Goodwin provides a concise, fast-moving account of the causes, the actual battle, and the aftermath of the conflict…. For general readers with at least a rudimentary knowledge of British and European history, this will be both an informative and enjoyable read.”
Library Journal
Independent UK historian Goodwin (Fatal Colours: Towton 1461—England’s Most Brutal Battle) details the September 9, 1513, Battle of Flodden between Scotland’s James IV and England’s Henry VIII in time for its quincentennial. To honor an alliance with France, James IV declared war on his wife’s brother, Henry VIII, to distract Henry from England’s war with France. Considered the largest battle fought between Scotland and England, Flodden saw the death of James IV and that of more than 10,000 Scottish and British soldiers. Goodwin begins the book by connecting (unconvincingly) the battle to the subsequent unification of the Scottish and English crowns in 1603 when James VI of Scotland succeeded Queen Elizabeth to the English throne, as James I, upon her death. Unfortunately, Goodwin’s book reads more like a mashup of encyclopedic facts instead of the enthralling military tale it should be. For example, in the first chapter alone, Goodwin mentions five kings without relating anything about their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses as rulers or any mention of their contemporaries’ perceptions of them.

Verdict Peter Reese’s Flodden: A Scottish Tragedy is a far more enlightening and enjoyable read. However, some fans of Goodwin’s previous book, above, may be interested in reading this one.—Tonya Briggs, Cuyahoga Community Coll.–Metropolitan Campus Lib., Cleveland
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
In this account of a pivotal battle in Scottish history, Goodwin (Fatal Colours: Towton 1461--England's Most Brutal Battle, 2012, etc.) demonstrates that he understands that history is much more interesting in small bites. This is the tale of two monarchs, brothers-in-law, one strong, one strong-headed, who were fated to clash. Henry VIII of England had entirely different views of war from than those of his father. The elder looked to the joust and tournaments as a substitute for war, while Henry VIII, banned from jousting when he became Prince of Wales upon his brother's death, craved the acclaim of battlefield success. James IV was king of Scots, father to all; the Scots looked to him for direction and impartial decisions while they unquestionably supported his call to arms. Goodwin provides a short background history while deftly describing James and Henry--with considerably less material available on James. The author is not especially friendly to Henry, portraying him more as a spoiled child than a princely leader. The real story is of the clash at Flodden a mere four years after Henry's accession. Henry was actually off in France trying to emulate Henry V, and it was the Lord Howard, Earl of Surrey, who fought with his one-time friend, James, at Flodden in 1513. The author's descriptions of the battle are excellent, without too many obscure details that usually just confuse the narrative. The importance of this battle cannot be overstated: It was the last medieval battle fought with pikes and the first modern one fought with artillery; it was also the beginning of the end of Scottish independence. A swift, enjoyable treatment of one of the most significant battles of the period.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393073683
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/26/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 538,969
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

George Goodwin is a history graduate of Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a Foundation Exhibition. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Royal Society of Arts and is a member of the Battlefields Trust. He lives near Kew Gardens. His first book, Fatal Colours: Towton 1461, was published to wide critical acclaim in 2011.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 24, 2014

    Good read on a little known topic

    If you are interested in English/Scottish history then this is a must read for you. It makes it clear the relationship between the two countries and goes much further than 1513. It sets a foundation for the ongoing events of today and gives one a background on the union of and possible break-up of Great Britain

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