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Preparing for Flodden

Updated: Feb 28, 2022

King Henry VIII’s invasion of France left England vulnerable. King James IV of Scotland exploited this when France sought his assistance in support of the war against the English. King James — the ideal Renaissance Prince — stood by the Auld Alliance and invaded England. It did not go well for the Scots. At Flodden (Sept 1513) the Scottish army was destroyed and King James along with much of the Scottish nobility were killed.

The English Array at Flodden

The idea of re-fighting Flodden on the wargames table was partially sparked by the Society of Ancients’ Bosworth Battle Day. The English army of 1513 was not that dissimilar from that of 1485. All it would take was a few command bases in early 16th century dress to give it a later look — most of the rank and file bill and bowmen from Bosworth could happily be re-used for Flodden and even some of the English commanders were present at both battles.

Lord Home's pikemen supported by the Earl of Huntley's Highlanders and artillery

The Scots, however, had been equipped and trained in the continental manner with large pike blocks supported by highlanders, artillery and border horse. I had some French and Scots pikes from my Henry Tudor Bosworth army but for the most part the Scottish army was raised and painted from scratch by those playing the part of the Scots.

I was able to donate my old Minifig ECW lancers to the Scottish cause. I have always been quite fond of these delightful miniatures but they have seen very little table-top action since being painted back in the late 1970s. In our game they would hover on the flanks looking for an opportunity for loot.

The two armies were deployed along ridges between which was boggy ground which neither side were aware of. This disrupted the Scottish pike blocks in the actual battle. To simulate this, Gary Kitching (who set up the scenario) had four potential areas of boggy ground marked by counters. The underside of the counters would reveal three boggy areas and one of good going. None of the players would know which was boggy and which was not until troops actually entered the area.

Flodden was a dreadful disaster for the Scots would it turn out the same in a re-fight on the wargames table?

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