On the 9th September 1513 James and Surrey met each other across a large stretch of hilly, boggy pasture. James had the larger army and more powerful artillery, but his guns took longer to reload and fire, whilst the English artillery were more accurate and effective. Though the Scots were able to rout the first English advances, they soon found themselves trapped in thick boggy ground. Eventually more and more Scots piled in, including King James himself, who were effortlessly picked off and wiped out by the English soldiers. Flodden was the bloodiest day in Scotland’s history: over 14,000 Scots were killed compared to just 1,500 of the 26,000 English. The most devastating loss for Scotland however was James IV – he was among those dead at Flodden; the last British monarch killed in battle.
With her husband dead, Margaret Tudor became regent of Scotland whilst her son James was young. When he was crowned James V, he too would face trouble from his Tudor relations: after James refused to break from the Catholic Church, uncle Henry VIII declared war on Scotland. The Scots were humiliatingly defeated at the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542. James V, devastated at this defeat, died later that year, leaving behind his six-day old daughter Mary (better known as the future Mary Queen of Scots). Mary too would not be able to catch a break – Henry VIII invaded Scotland again as part of the “Rough Wooing”. This was Henry’s retaliation after Scotland refused to offer Mary’s hand in marriage to Henry’s son, Prince Edward. Queen Mary would face her end at the executioner’s axe in 1587 after her cousin and Prince Edward’s sister, Queen Elizabeth I, sentenced her to death for treason.
But inevitably, it was the Scottish monarchs who won out after unintentionally playing the long game. In 1566, Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to a son called James. He was crowned James VI the following year after his mother was forced to abdicate. Years later, when Queen Elizabeth died childless, the English had no choice but to offer the crown of England to the closest blood link. That blood link led to James VI; son of Elizabeth’s cousin. The Scottish monarchs had won; they were now the rulers of their sworn enemy, and it was all thanks to Margaret Tudor. This connection allowed the House of Stuart to follow the Tudors. And when the crown of Britain transferred from the House of Stuart to the House of Hanover in 1714 it was thanks to family connections with James, and his ancestry with the Stuarts and the Tudors.