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Flodden: A Scottish Tragedy [Paperback]

Peter Reese
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 July 2013
In the breadth of bitter-sweet Scottish history there is no more poignant, not more important, battle than Flodden. Before Scotland's disastrous defeat at the hands of the English under the Earl of Surrey, a proud country under its dynamic Stewart king, James IV, was emerging as a distinct and flourishing nation within Europe. With defeat the inevitability of Scotland's Reformation and union with England is hard to deny. Flodden was an ignominious and disastrous moment for the Scots, all the more so for being a largely unnecessary encounter, fought with superior numbers and arms, which left the country weak, exposed and leaderless. In this bestselling study of one of the most famous battles in history, Peter Reese recreates the drama and calamity of the battle fought just south of the River Tweed on 9 September 1513. Drawing together the political, military and historical background to the conflict, he examines the two armies and their leaders and explains the crucial tactical moves both before and during the encounter. The result is a thoroughly researched yet always accessible and realistic account of the battle Scotland has tried to forget.

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Flodden: A Scottish Tragedy + Fatal Rivalry, Flodden 1513: Henry VIII, James IV and the battle for Renaissance Britain
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn Ltd; 2nd edition (4 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780271719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780271712
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A cracker of a book which reads like a novel yet has the authority of many a weightier tome." --"Sunday Herald"

About the Author

Peter Reese served for almost thirty years in the Army, where his concerns included the professional training of officers. He has both an MA and MPhil in war-related studies from King's College, London

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Realism at it's Best 8 Jan 2010
This is an excellent book by Peter Reese detailing the tragic battle of Flodden where King James the IV's Scottish army was defeated by the northern army of England commanded by Thomas Howard, the Earl of Surrey. The story is seen from the perspective of both armies and their leaders, Scotland's Stuart monarch- arguably the most successful and competent of that royal family- and on the opposing side, King Henry the eighth of England's loyal servant with his northern levies.

Reese portrays the campaign and subsequent defeat of the larger and more powerful Scottish army as a needless tragedy brought about by James's over-ambitious desire to 'teach Henry a lesson' following the English king's high-handed arrogance and aggression he frequently displayed to his northern neighbours. The author clearly makes the point that this aggression was by no means one-sided and James himself comes across as somewhat rash, (despite his obvious successes in ruling his country)uncompromising and (surprisingly) slightly naive. Reese's vivid description of the battle itself, the tactics employed by the rival armies and the terrain it was fought over is first-class and the reader is left in no doubt that the Scottish king with his French military advisors was seriously outclassed by the highly competent Surrey. Reese argues persuasively that the defeat at Flodden opened the gates for Scotland's gradual weakening as a military power and ultimate loss of an independent monarchy despite the fact that the first king of the united kingdoms was in fact a Scottish king.

The pace of the book is fast, suitably so, and the style informative whilst not neglecting any detail necessary to tell the whole story of why James risked so much on what was sadly so little.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flodden explained in gripping detail 19 Mar 2014
By EleanorB TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This author has brought enormous clarity and first class interpretation of the facts to this history of the background to, and the outcome of, the Battle of Flodden.

He takes time to set the scene by examining the backgrounds of the two warring Kings, in this case James IV of Scotland and Henry VIII of England. James had come to his throne in a relatively poor country destabilised by an unfortunate history of regal assassinations and child monarchs, whilst Henry had been the beneficiary of his frugal father's well stuffed treasury and the high expectations of his people. The Treaty of Perpetual Peace which celebrated the marriage of Henry's sister Margaret Tudor to James IV didn't really work out: the appetite of these two young monarchs for war, glory and supremacy was too strong to be denied.

The outcome was an absolute and genuine tragedy for Scotland. James died on the battlefield, his blood stained outer garment being sent South as a trophy, leaving yet another child monarch (Henry's own nephew, don't forget), in yet another unstable regency situation, to rule a country deprived of the flower of its youth and fighting men noble and otherwise, and much of its treasury.

This is very good history, as it shows clearly what took place and why, and also shows how different things might have been had cooler heads and a greater ability to compromise been in play. However, who are we to criticise given the various military insanities which are currently destroying lives and countries right now in the 21st century - we have access to so much knowledge and learn so little!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars It is such a sad story but is cast to history 2 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's the first time I have read a book by Peter Reese and it won't be the last! The way that he describes the lead up to the expedition and battle is so real. It is such a sad story but is cast to history. It is such a shame that it has never been part of our history lessons in school. It would make a tremendous Hollywood film and would maybe stir up more emotions than Braveheart! Oh, what a loss to Scotland James IV was.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Flodden 29 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A good read. this took place when fighting men fought hand to hand. The telling of this event makes it all very real reading how the men fought.
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5.0 out of 5 stars tragedy 27 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
well written and researched. As a passionate Scot, it was sad to read how incompetent our leaders were that day. Could the rest of history been so different
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