CATHERINE OF ARAGON: GREAT MILITARY LEADER?

The TV show The Spanish Princess depicts Catherine of Aragon riding into battle on horseback whilst pregnant. Whilst this may seem like a fictionalisation, created merely for the purposes of TV entertainment, it's actually not far from the truth; though it is a bastardisation of the truth.

catherine of aragon portrait

THE BADASS TUDOR QUEEN

Catherine of Aragon was one of the most badass of all of Henry VIII's wives. Contrary to the depiction of her in The Tudors, she was fiery, diplomatic, and an apt ruler popular amongst the English people. She was also considered to be Henry's most devoted wife who maintained her love for The King until her death in 1536 aged 50. Perhaps most impressively of all, in 1513 she rallied English troops against the Scots in a clash known as The Battle of Flodden.  

THE BATTLE OF FLODDEN

Whilst Henry was away on a campaign against the French in defence of the Pope's lands - at the time, England was part of The Holy League, allies to Rome and the exact opposite of DC's League of Villainy -  the Scots saw this as an opportunity to invade England. 

The Scottish invasion was under the pretence that by fighting against France, Henry VIII had broken an earlier peace treaty signed by James IV of Scots in 1502. By attacking the English and taking all the major fortresses in Northumberland, the Scots were coming to France's aid, fighting against a common enemy. 

Worryingly for the English, Henry had taken the majority of his armies to France, leaving the country largely unprotected. Such was the arrogance of The King that he felt he didn't need protection, but, then again, Tudor contraception was primitive. 

Upon hearing of the Scots warmongering, Catherine of Aragon quickly stepped up to the plate. Using all of her royal authority, she commanded English lords, mayors, sheriffs, and officials to aid her in defence against the Scots. Far from a piecemeal army, she also had The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Thomas Lovell, raise an army in the Midlands.   

With a royal warrant signed for the order of 1500 suits of armour, Catherine led what remained of Henry's artillery north to meet the Scots on the battlefield on the 9th of September 1513.

the battle of flodden

CATHERINE'S ROLE IN BATTLE

There was no way Catherine of Aragon was getting anywhere near the battlefield itself. Not only was she the Queen, but she was also heavily pregnant as depicted in The Spanish Princess. However, instead of seeking refuge in The Tower of London, as per convention, Catherine travelled to nearby Warwick, bringing her closer to the action.

This was a ballsy move from the Queen, signalling to the English people that she was a strong, actionable ruler. News of Catherine's manoeuvres probably put Henry VIII on edge. As a woman, her actions would have been considered even more impressive, possibly overshadowing Henry's victories in France. 

However, due to her sex, Catherine's role in The Battle of Flodden has been brushed over. You might say that scholars have tried to write her actions out of the history books. Yet history favours the winners, and Catherine was no loser.

Against all odds, 34,000 Scots controlling the high ground to be exact, Catherine's sharp mind as a leader led to a decisive English victory. 10,000 Scottish soldiers were killed, amongst which was James IV of Scots himself. This was a triumph for the English.

But Catherine didn't stop there. After England's victory, Catherine oversaw truce negotiations and had Lord Dacre - a Northumberland baron - assert Henry VIII's right to become the guardian of James IV's son, James V. As James V, Henry's nephew, was still a child, Henry's guardianship meant he would become the de facto ruler of Scotland. 

keep your head book mockup

LOVE TUDOR HISTORY, PRE-ORDER KEEP YOUR HEAD 

LEARN HOW TO SURVIVE AS HENRY VIII'S WIFE

05.11.24

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