The Battle of Flodden in September 1513 was one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on British soil, in which James IV, King of Scots, and virtually the whole of his nobility and gentry were annihilated in an afternoon along with 15,000 soldiers. Five centuries later, the slaughter still occupies a core position in the Scottish nationalist debate and in the pantheon of heroic failures. This novel puts you in the heart of the action; youll feel the sweat and the fear, the curtain of red mist.
The narrative covers April through September 1513, focusing around a handful of key characters: John Heron, Bastard of Ford, swaggering, violent, and disreputable, the black sheep of a good English family; Sir Thomas Howard, leader of the English forces and skilled strategist; Alexander, 3rd Lord Hume, leader of the Scots, bold but impetuous; Isabella Hoppringle, Abbess of Coldstream, hub of a web of influential women throughout the Scottish borders, a woman of significant influence and charisma.
Laced with dark humor and fascinating period detail, Blood Divide reminder readers that political intrigue and human folly are timeless.
Perhaps the two shrewdest players in the war game are Isabella Hoppringle and John Heron, "Bastard" of Ford. Isabella has always been a survivor but the realities of this war will bring her many harsh epiphanies. John Heron is a bastard by lineage but his actions also generally fit this word quit well. Isabella is one of the few weaknesses in the reputation as a mercenary that Johnny has so carefully cultivated. If this were a Lucas film, there would be a Han and Leia cliffhanger here.
Told from many perspectives and pulling many emotions out. Educational, to say the least. Battle behind the scenes so complex that it deserves a second read for full understanding. I was once criticized for saying that a comphrensive war encyclopedia was beautiful....and I supposed I might be criticized by the same person for saying it, but the way this story is handled has much beauty to it....realism and simplicity with a smile here and there.
Definitively 5 out of 5 stars for me. This will be used for homeschooling in our later years. Thank you, Mr. Sadler.
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AUTHOR BIO:John Sadler is an experienced military historian, a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and the author of more than two dozen books. He is also a much traveled battlefield tour guide covering most major conflicts in the UK, Europe, and North Africa.
I first went there as a boy aged say 13, early September and dank late summer, intimations of autumn in the air, perfect for atmosphere.
Do you think the outcome would have been different had the battle been fought on Milfield Plain as Surrey wanted?
Surrey didn’t want to fight on Millfield Plain unless James abandoned the higher ground, he wanted James to come down onto the plain, he had no intention of complying. The English would probably have won the battle but perhaps less decisively. The superior English gunnery and the arrow storm might have still won the day.
We are homeschooling (and live in The States). What European battles do you recommend we study? Of the medieval era? I’d suggest Courtrai, Mortgarten, Bicocca & Pavia, plus someof the 100 Years war battles – Crecy, Poitiers, Najara & Agincourt (I began my re-enactment career as a page boy in a reply of Agincourt).
What authors, fiction and non-fiction, do you enjoy on the topic of the Battle of Flodden?
It’s underwritten, of non-fiction authors (other than myself) I recommend Niall Barr and Peter Reese.
What weapon do you find most interesting from this battle?
The English bill – an ancient hybrid from an agricultural pedigree yet proved decisively superior to the pike.
If you could sit down a few hours before the battle and give James IV advice, what would you say?
It would only need minutes – stay in Scotland. I’d tell him he was an untried commander of limited capacity with an army that was less strong than it appeared relying on untried tactics he failed fully to understand.