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Carefully Researched, Unbiased, Easy to Read Work..,
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This review is from: Fatal Rivalry: Henry VIII, James IV and the Battle for Renaissance Britain - Flodden 1513 (Hardcover)
'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. (Popes can be very unhelpful at times) One of the great values of this work is that it deals in fascinating detail with the events that eventually culminated in the battle of Flodden. To properly appreciate why the battle was fought we need to know the reasons for it and, as with so much that happens in the world, such reasons often go back a long way. This book explains all about this very clearly.
George Goodwin is even handed in the way that he presents the main characters, showing both their strong and weak points. There's no hero worship here. Neither is there partisanship. Mercifully, neither kilts or bagpipes are mentioned, presumably because neither of these impediments were fashionable in those days. The Scottish soldiers wore knee britches, the same as the English, and not 'kilts' after the fashion of the ancient Assyrian and Egyptian menfolk, or like ancient-Greek hoplites and Roman soldiers. One of the interesting facts that does come out is how a well armed party of English (yes, English) border reivers pillaged and robbed the English baggage train, thus causing the English army to have to go into battle not properly fed.
A vital fact this excellent work does bring out is how thousands of innocent people suffer injury, famine, persecution, disease and death as a consequence of the land grabbing, egotistical machinations of their self-important rulers. This book is a brilliant example of how history should be written for the general reader.