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Fatal Rivalry: Henry VIII, James IV and the Battle for Renaissance Britain - Flodden 1513 Hardcover – 4 Jul 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; 1st edition (4 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297867393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297867395
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 303,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This is a clear account of a great if doomed attempt by the Scots to free themselves from English domination. Good timing. (SUNDAY TIMES)

Goodwin does a terrific job in building up the protagonists' back stories..Goodwin does a very good job. He's alive to the human story - the 88 members of the Hays family who were killed that day, for example - yet also confident discussing military strategy. (Toby Clements DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Among the books and events marking the 500-year anniversary of this turning point in Anglo/Scottish relations, George Goodwin's Fatal Rivalry: Flodden 1513 is an essential primer. (SUNDAY EXPRESS)

Readable and authoritative...well-researched and comprehensive (GLASGOW HERALD)

Goodwin's gripping narrative of the clash and its context makes plain that the modern and well-armed Scots, under the charismatic King James IV, might have turned the tide of our history (THE INDEPENDENT)

George Goodwin's previous book, Fatal Colours, was a highly engaging account of the Battle of Towton...Goodwin has produced another entertaining, informative account (Ed West THE CATHOLIC HERALD)

This very readable account unpicks how the peace fell apart and the Scots allied with the French to turn on the English. (GOOD BOOK GUIDE)

FATAL RIVALRY is about far more than just one battle, significant though it was. In telling the story that led to Flodden, he recreates the Renaissance splendour of the royal courts of England and Scotland...a hugely enjoyable, enlightening book. (Tracy Borman BBC HISTORY)

Fatal Rivalry: Flodden 1513 provides a welcome antidote to the usual run of work on the (Tudor) period. George Goodwin places the events of 9 September 1513 in the context of the two kingdoms and their interrelated royal dynasties over the quarter-century leading up to the battle. (LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS)

An impressive young historian, George Goodwin brings detail and understanding to the Battle of Flodden, with all its heroism and melancholy (THE OLDIE)

Book Description

The relationship of England and Scotland became defined by events on 9 September 1513 in a battle of great size, bloodshed and finality - the Battle of Flodden.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H. A. Weedon TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 July 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
'Fatal Rivalry' is a well researched, well written, very readable, hardback presented in sensible sized print and containing two sets of colour illustrations and two helpful maps. The author, George Goodwin, has a writing style that makes his works a pleasure to read. This work is an excellent example of how to explain history to the general reader in a readily assimilated fashion. The book contains a prologue, an introduction, 21 chapters, a commemoration, a list of Flodden related organisations and places to visit, notes, a select bibliography, acknowledgements and a comprehensive index.

The author explains the characters of the main protagonists in such fascinating fashion that the readers can feel they getting into their minds and way of thinking. Henry's young queen, Catherine of Aragon, looked after the country extremely well when Henry VIII was away fighting in France. Had the baby son, to whom she gave birth, survived, the history of England would have been very different. Catherine knew just what to do to counter the James IV led Scottish invasion of England with the result that the ageing, but experienced, Earl of Surrey was soon 'speeding' north, gathering together an army as he went.

Although the Scots army was equipped with more advanced weaponry and began the battle in a more advantageous position, they were eventually out-manoeuvred by the better English discipline and the generalship of the Earl of Surrey. James IV and the greater part of the Scottish nobility were killed. The book describes how the body of James was taken to England but never buried because he was excommunicated at the time of his death.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Aug. 2013
Format: Hardcover
The title of George Goodwin's book, "Fatal Rivalry: Flodden, 1513: Henry VIII and James IV and the Decisive Battle for Renaissance Britain", really sums up the book's contents in that one sentence. But there's a lot of great details about the two kingdoms, uneasily sharing a single island, and their diplomatic and military history. By the way, Henry VIII was not at the battle but his foe, Scotland's James IV was killed by English troops.

The most interesting person, hands down, was James IV, of the House of Stewart. He ruled Scotland after his father's - James III - death under somewhat murky circumstances. He came to the throne in 1488 and was killed in battle 25 years later. His reign straddled the reigns of the English kings, Henry VII and Henry VIII. In 1503, he wed Margaret, the daughter of Henry VII and sister of Henry VIII. The marriage was an attempt to solidify the often rocky relationship between the House of Tudor and the House of Stewart. Things were quiet for a few years but each country's relationships and pacts between the continental powers of Austria, France, Spain, and the Vatican added to the unrest between the two countries.

James was a true Renaissance spirit in the artistic sense, but was also accomplished in battle. Goodwin gives both James and the two Henrys nuanced portrayals in his book. One interesting fact that I've never read anywhere else concerns Henry VII obsession to insure the continuance of the House of Tudor. Evidently Henry had a great fear of eternal damnation and wanted to make sure chancery masses for his soul continued after his death. He felt the if his descendents retained power, Henry would be sure of having these masses said.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By O. G. M. Morgan on 22 Oct. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There actually isn't all that much about the Battle of Flodden, possibly the biggest battle ever fought on British soil, in this book. Flodden's obvious rival is Towton, about which Goodwin has already written. As with his account of Towton, Goodwin delves deep. I was in Spain when I read this book and was rather surprised to realise that I was only a few hundred yards from the final resting place of someone mentioned in Goodwin's background (to a war between Scotland and England).

Goodwin does background a lot better than he does foreground; in fact, he should write a compendious history of the Anglo-Scottish wars, because I'd buy it, even if no-one else did. At his best, he is very readable and he does argue his case pretty well.

All the same, Goodwin leans a bit too far to the Scottish side here. Henry VIII is a monster - not an especially hard case to prove, especially when the name Howard crops up frequently. James IV, King of Scots, by contrast, is an all-round Renaissance hero, only ever trying to do the best for his country, which would certainly make him a first for his dynasty. Countless times, Goodwin reminds us what a paragon James supposedly was. It's boring and not at all convincing.

Goodwin really goes off the rails, though, when discussing the Scottish army, which James led to the disaster at Flodden. Goodwin recognises the significance of the Macedonian-inspired Swiss system, but he doesn't appear to draw the right conclusions. I hazard a guess that he knows little about classical history. The army of Philip II and Alexander III of Macedon, the one which Renaissance potentates were desperate to replicate, had, in its centre, a "phalanx", armed with a huge pike, called a "sarissa". Flanking the phalanx were archers and slingers.
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