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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For history buffs only., 6 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Fatal Rivalry: Henry VIII, James IV and the Battle for Renaissance Britain - Flodden 1513 (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.

Goodwin's book is quite detailed about the events leading up to the Battle of Flodden, as well as the aftermath, but he writes in a very readable way. I'm not sure this book will appeal to the casual reader of history, but to readers interested in the background of the English/Scottish relationship, and, in particular, how Elizabeth I's successor in 1603 was the Scottish king James VI, this book is great reading. There are plenty of maps and plenty of pictures of the leading characters of the time. Another book I can highly recommend is Thomas Penn's book, "The Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England".
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