CHAPTER V. HENRY VIII (i), 1509-27 - EGO ET REX MEUS
The arrangements for the Guienne expedition had not unnaturally been singularly defective. Wolsey devoted himself with untiring zeal to the organisation of a new expedition in the following spring. Nothing was left to chance over which it was possible for one man's energy to exercise supervision. The first outcome was a naval engagement off Brest on 25th April, wherein the English admiral, Sir Edward Howard, restored at least the English reputation for valour, falling - overwhelmed by numbers - on the deck of the French flag-ship which he had boarded almost single-handed. The French fleet was much larger than that of the English, and the attack on it which he led was a desperate enterprise in which his ships were beaten off; but those who had jeered at the failure in Guienne were silenced, and Henry was enabled to land his troops undisturbed at Calais at the end of June. Both the King and Wolsey were with the army, and proceeded to lay siege, on 1st August, to Terouenne, which was partially re-victualled by the bold dash of a relief party of horsemen through the besieger's lines. Here the besiegers were shortly joined by a contingent under Maximilian (who professed himself a mere volunteer under the English King). The advancing French array was put to complete rout in the "battle of the Spurs" - the consequence of a sudden panic - and on August 22nd Terouenne surrendered. Tournai followed suit a month later.
In the meantime, events of moment had been taking place on the Scottish border.
James IV., as we have seen, had by no means been on continuously good terms with Henry VII., and had lent a good deal more than merely moral support to the pretensions of Perkin Warbeck. At the close of the adventurer's active career in the end of 1497, a treaty was made between England and Scotland which was to remain in force till a year after the death of either monarch; and there were further treaties when James married Margaret Tudor in 1503. On the other hand, James had always maintained the traditional alliance with France, and in 1507 had declined the papal invitation to enter the league then formed to resist French aggression. Since the accession of Henry VIII., the relations between the two countries had been exceedingly strained. There were personal quarrels about jewels retained in England which James claimed for his wife. Scottish sea-captains had been treated as pirates by the English authorities. Henry, having joined the league against France, wished to patch up the quarrel with James; James, incited by the French, would not make friends with the active enemy of France; the French Queen sent him a message bidding him strike a blow on English ground as her knight. West, [Footnote: Brewer,Henry VIII., p.29. L &P., i., 1926, 3128, 3129, 3811, 3838, 3882.] the English ambassador, gives a highly uncomplimentary account of James's bearing at this time, but his evidence may be coloured. At any rate, there can have been little doubt in James's mind that a successful war with France would leave Henry ready to make himself extremely unpleasant to Scotland, even though he might not patently set the treaty aside; and for himself there was a degree of obligation to help France when she came to open hostilities with England; while Henry's instructions to West are hardly consistent with a character for stainless and unassailable honour. [Footnote: Cf. Lang, Hist. Scot., i., p.375; commenting on Brewer, Henry VIII., pp.28, 29 q.v.]
[1513 James invades England (Aug.)]
At any rate, the conclusion of the matter was that when Henry sailed for Calais, James soon made up his mind, with the support of most of the nobility, to declare war, and sent Henry his defiance - as he had promised West to do before opening hostilities. On 22nd August he was in England at the head of a great army; by the end of the month, Norham Castle, Ford, and other strongholds were in his hands. [Footnote: Cf. Lang, Hist. Scot., i., p. 377.] Thereafter, he entrenched himself on Flodden Ridge, and awaited the approach of the English army.
Queen Katharine and the Earl of Surrey had been left in charge at home when the King with Wolsey and Fox also crossed the channel. To the Queen's energy the successful results were in no small degree due, as well as to the military skill and audacity of the Howards, and to James's reckless disregard of strategical and tactical principles.
Had the Scottish monarch held to his plans, his campaign could hardly have failed to be successful. His army was large, and well victualled; his position on Flodden Edge was exceedingly strong; he had secured the fortresses which might otherwise have threatened him on flank or rear. His object was to entice the English commander, Surrey, away from his base, and force him to fight at a disadvantage, or to see his levies melt away, for lack of provisions. Surrey, advancing from Alnwick to Wooler, tried to inveigle him into descending from the Ridge to the open plain, but James was not to be tempted.