A Terrible Battle

I’m in a sombre mood at the moment. It’s because, as I said in my last post, I’m working on a Topic TimeMap title on World War I.

Another anniversary that’s just passed (as I said, we at TimeMaps have a habit of missing anniversaries!), is that of the battle of Flodden.

This engagement is almost forgotten now. It took place between the English and the Scots at Branxton Hill (so why isn’t it called the Battle of Branxton Hill? – but it IS near Flodden).

It wasn’t a particularly important battle, at least in the strategic sense. It mainly came about as the result of the king of Scotland, James IV, trying to live up to his alliance with the French, with whom the English were at war at that time (again). There were no hugely important national issues at stake.

But get this: 10,000 Scots were killed on that day (9th September, 1513).

That’s dreadful enough for any nation – it’s a casualty tally easily on the scale of a First World War battle. But it is even more awful when you consider another factor.

At that time the population of Scotland was probably less than a million people.

Which means that 1% of the entire Scottish population died on that day.

For no good reason.

I referred to the Battle of the Somme in my last post. In that battle 20,000 British soldiers were killed in one day. Had it been 1% of the population, it would have been 300,000.

How would we have reacted if 1% of the American population had died on 9/11: instead of 3,000 people, a couple of million?

So, yes, Flodden was a truly dreadful event.

Not the only one in history, sadly.


By Peter Britton