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his impetuosity did not reach to the pitch Surrey perhaps expected. He refused to receive the messenger into his presence, and returned for answer to the message, that it was not such as it became an earl to send to a king.
Surrey, therefore, distressed for provisions, was obliged to resort to another mode of bringing the Scots to action. He moved northward, sweeping round the hill of Flodden, keeping out of the 'reach of the Scottish artillery, until, crossing the Till near Twisell castle, he placed himself, with his whole army, betwixt James and his own kingdom. The King suffered him to make this flank movement without interruption, though it must have afforded repeated and advantageous opportunities for attack. But when he saw the English army interposed betwixt him and his dominions, he became alarmed lest he should be cut off from Scotland. In this apprehension he was confirmed by one Giles Musgrave, an Englishman, whose counsel he used upon the occasion, and who assured him that if he did not descend and fight with the English army, the Earl of Surrey would enter Scotland, and lay waste the whole country. Stimulated by this apprehension the King resolved to give signal for the fatal battle. With this view the Scots set fire to their huts and the other refuse and litter of their camp. The smoke spread along the side of the hill, and under its cover the army of King James descended the eminence, which is much less steep on the northern than the southern side, while the English advanced to meet them, both concealed from each other by the clouds of smoke.
The Scots descended in four strong columns, all marching parallel to each other, having a reserve of the Lothian men, commanded by Earl Bothwell. The English were also divided into four bodies, with a reserve of cavalry led by Dacre.
The battle commenced at the hour of four in the afternoon. The first which encountered was the left wing of the Scots, commanded by the Earl of Huntly and Lord Home, which overpowered and threw into disorder the right wing of the English, under Sir Edmund Howard. Sir Edmund was beaten down, his standard taken, and he himself in danger of instant death, when he was relieved by the Bastard Heron, who came up at the head of a band of determined outlaws like himself, and extricated Howard. But the English cavalry, under Dacre, which acted as a reserve, appears to have kept the victors in check; while Thomas Howard, the lord high admiral, who commanded the second division of the English, bore down and routed the Scottish division commanded by Crawford and Montrose, who were both slain. Thus matters went on the Scottish left. Upon the extreme right of James's army a division of Highlanders, consisting of the clans of MacKenzie, MacLean and others, commanded by the Earls of Lennox and Argyle were so insufferably annoyed by the volleys of English arrows, that they broke their ranks, and, in despite of the cries, entreaties, and signals of the French ambassador, who endeavoured to stop them, rushed tumultuously down hill, and being at once attacked in front and rear by Sir Edward Stanley, with the men of Cheshire and Lancashire, were routed with great slaughter.
The only Scottish division which remains to be mentioned was commanded by James in person, and consisted of the choicest of his nobles and gentry, whose armour was so good that the arrows made but slight impression upon them. They were all on foot—the King himself had parted with his horse. They engaged the Earl of Surrey, who opposed to them the division which he personally commanded. The Scots attacked with the greatest fury, and, for a time, had the better. Surrey's squadrons were disordered, his standard in great danger, Bothwell and the Scottish reserve were advancing, and the English seemed in some risk of losing the battle. But Stanley, who had defeated the Highlanders, came up on one flank of the King's division; the admiral, who had conquered Crawford and Montrose, assailed them on the other. The Scots showed the most undaunted courage. Uniting themselves with the reserve under Bothwell they formed into a circle, with their spears extended on every side, and fought obstinately. Bows being now useless, the English advanced on all sides with their bills, a huge weapon which made ghastly wounds. But they could not force the Scots either to break or retire, although the carnage among them was dreadful. James himself died amidst his warlike peers and loyal gentry. He was twice wounded with arrows, and at length despatched with a bill. Night fell without the battle being absolutely decided, for the Scottish centre kept their ground, and Home and Dacre held each other at bay. But during the night the remainder of the Scottish army drew off in silent despair from the bloody field, on which they left their King and their choicest nobles and gentlemen.
This great and decisive victory was gained by the Earl of Surrey on 9th September, 1513. The victors had about five thousand men slain, the Scots twice that number at least. But the loss lay not so much in the number of the slain as in their rank and quality. The English lost very few men of distinction. The Scots left on the field the King, two bishops, two mitred abbots, twelve earls, thirteen lords, and five eldest sons of peers. The number of gentlemen slain was beyond calculation—there is scarcely a family of name in Scottish history who did not lose a relative there.
The body which the English affirm to have been that of James was found on the field by Lord Dacre, and carried
by him to Berwick, and presented to Surrey. Both of these lords knew James's person too well to be mistaken. The body was also acknowledged by his two favourite attendants, Sir William Scott and Sir John Forman, who wept at beholding it. The fate of these relics was singular and degrading. They were not committed to the tomb, for the Pope, being at that time in alliance with England against France, had laid James under a sentence of excommunication, so that no priest dared pronounce the funeral service over them. The royal corpse was therefore embalmed and sent to the Monastery of Sheen, in Surrey. It lay there till the Reformation, when the monastery was given to the Duke of Suffolk ; and after that period the body, which was lapped up in a sheet of lead, was suffered to toss about the house like a piece of useless lumber. Stow, the historian, saw it fung into a waste room among old pieces of wood, lead, and other rubbish. Some idle workmen, “ for their foolish pleasure," says the same writer, “hewed off the head ; and one Lancelot Young, master-glazier to Queen Elizabeth, finding a sweet smell come from thence, owing doubtless to the spices used for embalming the body, carried the head home and kept it for some time; but in the end caused the sexton of Saint Michael's, Wood Street, to bury it in the charnel-house."
[While Henry the Eighth was thus dreaming of foreign
wars and conquests, the world was being stirred by the first movements of the religious change called the Reformation. This began with Luther, who soon won Northern Germany from its adherence to the Pope ; but it passed over to England, where the ground had been prepared for it by the previous efforts of Wyclif and the Lollards.]
As a great social and political movement Lollardry had ceased to exist, and little remained of the directly religious impulse given by Wyclif beyond a vague restlessness and discontent with the system of the Church. But weak and fitful as was the life of Lollardry, the prosecutions whose records lie scattered over the bishops' registers failed wholly to kill it. We see groups meeting here and there to read “in a great book of heresy all one night certain chapters of the Evangelists in English,” while transcripts of Wyclif's tracts passed from hand to hand. The smouldering embers needed but a breath to fan them into flame, and the breath came from William Tyndale. Born among the Cotswolds 1 when Bosworth Field gave England to the Tudors, Tyndale passed from Oxford to Cambridge to feel the full impulse given by the appearance there of the New Testament of Erasmus.2 From that moment one thought was at his heart. He “perceived by experience how that it was impossible to establish the lay people in any truth except the scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue.” “If God spare my life,” he said to a learned controversialist, “ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth a plough shall know more of the scripture than thou dost.” But he was a man of forty before his dream became fact. Drawn from his retirement in Gloucestershire by the news of Luther's protest at Wittemberg, 3 he found shelter
1 In Gloucestershire. 2 A Dutch scholar whose version of the Greek Testament, with notes, gave the first impulse to new religious thought. He taught for a while at Cambridge.
3. Luther began his work by a protest against the sale of indulgences or the remission of purgatorial punishment for sins,