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on 2 November 2013
A very well-researched examination of the political and historical context of the devastating defeat of Scotland's attempt to invade an England pre-occupied with Henry VIII's intervention in France, I finished this book feeling fully informed about a glorious day in English history, the 500th anniversary of which the UK media seemed too embarrassed to mark in a way Scotland might be expected to commemorate Bannockburn next year. The role played by James IV's ambition, English intransigence and the sheer hatred of the Scottish populace for the English which led James, perhaps against his better judgement, to break an Anglo-Scottish treaty and attack his more powerful neighbour gets thorough scrutiny. The section on the battle seems short, but I think that's simply relative comparison with the section on the buildup.

The one quibble I do have is that the author seems to follow the Scottish tradition of regarding the battle as a Scottish defeat rather than an English victory. Given that James' army severely outnumbered, outgunned and outmanoeuvred the English, and that his troops were better armed and, in their own minds at least, better fighters than their enemies, the author is curiously reluctant to lay credit where it surely due - the superior use of terrain by the English general, Thomas Howard.

A good collection of facts, excellently presented.
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on 18 October 2013
I was ignorant as to the life and achievements of King James IV of Scotland and, in many ways, wished Fatal Rivalry had focused only on that. Some of the material was too tangential and at times the narrative drifted, unfocused. Flodden itself was almost an afterthought (despite being the subheading of the title). I appreciate the author was setting the context but, as I say, some of the detail included was too obscure. Still, a fascinating introduction to a King who really deserves a higher profile.
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on 18 August 2013
The story of Flodden and the years leading up to the battle are very well covered in this book. This is an interesting period, with Scotland wanting to be recognised by the leading European powers as a fully independent state. In order to pursue this aim the dashing ambitious Scots monarch James IV, against advise from older and wiser heads, decides, with the encouragement of widespread anti-English sentiment, to invade England. Meanwhile young King Henry VIII is away campaigning with the main English army in France. What can possibly go wrong? Well, as it turns out lots.

The complexity of the politics, the history, and the personalities of the leading characters involved are well covered. In ways this battle was probably one of the final acts of the middle ages in Britain. It's a fascinating story well told, and it might easily have all ended so differently. A very good book, with some contemporary political parallels perhaps?
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'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.
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on 16 January 2015
This book shows how if it was not for Katherine of Aragon left to rule England while Henry VIII went on compaign in France, who managed to get an army together which defeated the Scots at Flodden- England would have been part of Scotland not the other way round.
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on 26 September 2013
This is a very good book - an excellent follow up to George's "Fatal Colours" (about the Battle of Towton) which I would also strongly recommend.

I read this in a very short time - it is a real "can't put it down" type book.

The chapters are relatively short and gradually build up to the battle and its aftermath. The background is necessary - especially in explaining the rivalry - but it is riveting stuff which means that it does not, in any way, detract from the progress of the narrative.

I would strongly recommend this book. Flodden has been little more than a footnote in Tudor history (it merited less than a paragraph when I was doing my A-levels) but it was a major battle with considerable impact.

Buy this with confidence - you will like it!
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on 14 August 2014
This is a brilliant book, it explains the battle and what lay behind it. I was engrossed from the beginning. If one is interested in the relationship between Scotland and England this helps one understand a significant chapter in it.
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on 31 August 2013
This is a very interesting and fast-paced book and explains the previous history of The European world and how it impinges upon Scotland and England.
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on 18 August 2014
An excellent account of the battle which destroyed the Scottish monarchy and created peace on the Anglo-Scottish border. The events leading up to the battle and its aftermath are well described..A good buy.
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on 14 October 2013
Having visited the battlefield at Flodden while on holiday the previous year I was looking for a book to help me understand all aspects of the conflict and this book was perfect.
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