“He HAD wonderful powers of mind, an unconquerable magnanimity and abundant generosity.” These words by Erasmus were written about an almost forgotten Scottish king, James IV. He was the greatest of all Scottish kings, but was unjustly spun out of history by both the English and Scots, why? Because of one failure: Flodden, 9 September, 1513.
James IV was a visionary. A committed European, he saw Scotland as a player on the international scene. At home, as a patron of the sciences and arts, rapid progress was made in the fields of medicine, education, architecture, literature, justice, defence and especially printing.
A devout Christian, in 1507 he spent six weeks on pilgrimages throughout Scotland, much of it on foot. He also succeeded in uniting Scotland by assembling what amounted to a national army to honour the Auld Alliance. Through his marriage to Margaret Tudor in 1502, there was a shortlived Treaty of Perpetual Peace between England and Scotland, but it set the stage for future relations. These are remarkable achievements for someone who died aged just 40.
After 500 years, what is missing? A national memorial. Yes, Flodden was a catastrophe, but as Sir Walter Scott said, “all was lost but our honour”. In this anniversary year, is not now the time to put right a grievous injustice and put up a memorial?