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 Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory

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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Fri 14 Sep 2012, 15:28

The theory is quite simple, everything ever written about this battle is wrong,in many cases hopelessly wrong.

The reason for this is in the number of fatalities ascribed to the Scottish Army, which are placed at between 10 and 12 thousand. The figure of 10,000 is taken from Admiral Thomas Howard's report and the 12,000 from the "Trewe Encounter". However the first gives a figure for the Scottish Army of 80,000 and the second a figure of 100,000, figures which are so ridiculous that no historian accepts them. Given that the figures for the Army are massively overstated [ no country in Western Europe could field an army of 80,000 and certainly not Scotland which had a maximum of 25-27,000] it is reasonable to assume that the casualty are also overstated. This however does not happen. The 10-12,000 figure gets trotted out regardless, not the slightest attempt having been made at verification. The result is total crap, with statements like this being palmed off as history; "The rate of slaughter exceeds that of some of the most horrific battles on the Somme during the First World War" That is from Flodden.net , just how stupid would you have be to believe that.

Not every historian uses those figures. Some use the figures given by 16th century historian George Buchanan, who puts the number of Scottish dead at 5,000. Buchanan's figures at least have the merit of being based on documentary evidence, namely the number of men listed as missing from the parish lists. That alone should be sufficient to get rid of the 10/12,000 nonsense. Buchanan's 5,000 however, would include any soldiers who were absent at the time and not necessarily killed. Only once, have I come across an historian with the common sense to use Buchanan as a basis for working backwards and that was Colonel Elliot in Flodden and the raids of 1513 but even he has forgotten the largest group of absentees, the 3,000 soldiers who went to France with the Fleet. Subtract them, and the figure for the Scottish losses at Flodden is now arounf the 2,000 mark.

In fact the number has been in black and white for the last 500 years. From February 1514, when things had settled down and an accurate assessment could be made; http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=94196.
There it is 1600, and that is for the entire campaign not just the battle at Branxton. The 600 spears to replace the fully armoured men at arms lost[this figure also tallies with the accounts of one William Gur who recovered 600 suits of armour from the battlefield] and 1,000 landsknechts to replace the partly armoured and unarmoured men lost.


Between them these two links give as comprehensive a tally as possible,after 500 years, of the Scottish dead. The shortness of the lists are indicative of a lower body count;

http://www.archive.org/stream/scottishantiquar12edinuoft#page/104/mode/2up

http://www.archive.org/stream/scottishantiquar12edinuoft#page/168/mode/2up

and from the Acts of the Council. For a bit of human interest read the cases Bonar vs Sellar & Bow, and Tait vs Turnbule;

http://www.archive.org/stream/scottishantiquar12edinuoft#page/n129/mode/2up
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Vizzer
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Fri 14 Sep 2012, 18:15

Very good work there Trike and based on sound sources too. One wonders when mainstream military historians will wake up and smell the coffee on this.

As an aside - it always raises a wry smile with me when the Battle of Bannockburn 1314 (in which an invading English army was defeated by the Scots) is commemorated in the song Flower of Scotland with the reference to the invaders as 'proud Edward's army'. Yet when the scenario is reversed at Flodden in 1513 (in which an invading Scottish army was defeated by the English) then it's the invaders who are romanticised in the mournful song Flowers of the Forest.
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Fri 14 Sep 2012, 20:56

Trike, have you read Tony Pollard and Neil Oliver's account of their archaeological investigation of Flodden in the book of 'Two Men in a Trench'? They came to much the same conclusion based on their inability to find so much as a single human bone, never mind mass graves. Even allowing for the brevity and limited nature of their digging and GPR being more primitive then, the apparent absence of any pits or grave cuts in the three locations which either they assessed as being the most likely or where there were previous accounts of a mass grave being found would suggest that the figures you quote are much closer to the reality than the traditional figures.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Sat 15 Sep 2012, 05:22

As Trike says, just working on population size at that time should give some indication that the figures were vastly inflated.

But this is no excuse for supposed experts to fall into the same trap, perhaps yet another example of romanticisation of the past combined with just a touch of nationalism? Of what historians want to have happened over-riding the facts of what actually happened? Richard III springs to mind here........
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Sat 15 Sep 2012, 07:35

What is true though is the Scots lost a disproportionately high number of nobles and men of rank. This was largely their own fault as they tended to lead, on foot, from the front, whereas in most other armies of the time the commanders were towards the rear and nobles generally formed part of the reserve.
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Sat 15 Sep 2012, 09:34

That's a point mentioned in the book as well and it suggests that, because they fought on foot as opposed to horseback, the nobles were less likely to be recognised as good prospects for ransom and so mown down in the general carnage rather than taken alive.
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Sun 16 Sep 2012, 16:57

I do remember seeing the programme with Tony Pollard and Neil Oliver, Ferv, in fact I have it on tape somewhere. It was this programme that started me off doing some research.

Vizzer and ID, I found the 1600 figure quite easily, why other historians have missed it escapes me.

Meles that is a good point. I think King James, he liked to lead from the front anyway, had the best armoured,by extension the nobility, clergy and gentry, in the leading ranks as they had the best chance of surviving the English arrow storm. Only two knights, Forman and Scott, both members of the King's household are recorded as being taken prisoner.



Somewhere in cyberspace is the complete list of the King's household [ I found it, lost it and can't find it now]. The total number is about 55, a handful are listed as either dying "in the war camp" or "under the King's banner" [whatever these phrases mean] more are listed as being killed at "the battle in Northumberland" [the battle doesn't appear in Scottish records as Flodden until 1517], and a surprisingly large number[over half] survive[incuding of course Forman and Scott]
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Mon 17 Sep 2012, 19:51

Very interesting post Tri and you may well be right. I do not have any access to the original sources but could i put forward some counter arguments.

The link that you have included reads to me more like a request that the Scots need to carry on the war. They would not necessarily need to replace all there losses for this.

1600 seems quite a relatively small loss to have provoked the Flowers of the Forest.

We hear nae mair lilting at our yowe-milking,
Women and bairns are heartless and wae;
Sighing and moaning on ilka green loaning
The Flowers o' the Forest are a' wede away.

A Scottish army of around 25,000, a supreme effort by king James, would be line with other the size of the English army and of other Scottish armies such as at Solway Moss, Pinkie and later on the Covenanter army of 1644, at Preston and Dunbar. Again for a losing army of that size to only suffer 1600 dead would seem quite low.

The Two Men in a Trench could not find any bodies but then I think that has applied to most investigators on most British battlefields.

regards

Tim
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Wed 19 Sep 2012, 12:41

Hi Tim,

Not sure about Flowers of the Forest as it wasn't written until about 230 years later.

And every battle is unique, what happened on one battlefield does not apply to others plus the Cromwellian figures for Dunbar have already been disproved.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Wed 19 Sep 2012, 12:55

Hi Tri

I am not disputing that the Cromwellian figures for Dunbar are wrong but how have they been proved wrong and what are the correct figures?

regards

Tim
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Wed 19 Sep 2012, 13:08

According to Stuart Reid the Covenant army only totalled about 12,000 men, which is of course less than the numbers claimed killed and captured by Cromwell [ 3,000 and 10,000 respectively]. The number killed has been revised by Reid to 800 and 5-6,000 captured [ at least 1,000 of whom were sick and released]

It's all in the Osprey Campaign book.

Trike.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Wed 19 Sep 2012, 13:26

Thanks trike

I have not read the Osprey book. The figures I quoted earlier were based on the accounts of the battle that I have. i would have to read Reid's account and judge his arguments. Has he actually 'proved' the figures or are they his view. Cromwell's claim of 3,000 dead and 10,000 prisoners are of course feasible if the Scottish army numbered 22,000, as normally given. One wonders if Leslie would have even sanctioned an attack in the first place if the two armies had been evenly matched.

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Fri 21 Sep 2012, 15:35

SR based his figures on the known turnout for the 1649 levy[ as low as 10% in one case] and the proposed levy for 1650, and comes up with 15 Covenant infantry regiments with an average strength of 600-700 men each.
An "attack" or a move to block the Dunbar-Berwick road ?

......................................

The most obvious example of exaggerating losses would be Falkirk, which for years was given as 10,000 until it transpired that Wallace only had 6,000 to 6,500 men to begin with, and has now been modified to 2,000.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Fri 21 Sep 2012, 16:29

I believe for a long period the English were credited with something like 100,000 at Bannockburn. On at least Scottish website I read how 30,000 English were killed at a much earlier and minor engagement during the reign of Edward I. I am surprised at the figure for Falkirk for I am amazed that Wallace would have even considered confronting Edward with such a small force.

Concerning Dunbar I would have said that Leslie was intending to attack, otherwise it would have been far safer for him to stay on Doon Hill. Leslie did after enquire of one captured NMA soldier 'How will you fight when you have shipped half your men and all your great guns?'

regards

Tim
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Johnny Hus
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Sat 12 Jan 2013, 22:20

Great topic, Tri.

I wonder if the stream in the valley bottom between the two armies may have made a difference? The tight Scottish phalanxes/schiltrons with their unwieldly 18ft pikes were forced to give up their vital momentum in order to bridge this minor obstacle before powering uphill into the enemy?
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Thu 17 Jan 2013, 17:34

The enormous estimates of army sizes and the related number of dead may owe more to the ballads than they do to any genuine historical record. If one reads the stories of William Wallace, the enormous piles of "Southron" bodies would have obscured Criffel from view.

My guess is that it was all about morale. Take the entirely unexpected English victory at Solway Moss in the mid sixteenth century (1542??). Prior to the battle, the English forces were assembled at Newcastle, confidently expecting an attack via Berwick, in accordance with accepted Anglo-Scottish practice.

So, when the enormous Scottish army decided to enter England via Cumbria, the English were caught completely on the hop. The English West March Warden (I think it was him, anyway) fired the beacons to raise the local muster and - in a display of either staggering bravery or staggering stupidity - left Carlisle and set out to face the Scottish army. The Scottish army was about a squillion times bigger than the Warden's force, many of whom were irregular light horsemen (a.k.a. local cattle thieves known to us now as the Border Reivers) with no formal military training.

On the face of it, the English were doomed and Cumbria looked set for another sacking. However, geography, morale and internal dissent in the Scottish ranks did what an English army several times the size could never have managed. Basically, the Scottish army was hampered by the Esk Sands at the head of the Solway and was crossing in dribs and drabs. As soon as sections were over and were fannying around trying to get sorted, the English "pricked" at them - sent in the local men on their fell ponies, who'd hit and run the Scottish lines incessantly. They wouldn't have caused many fatalities in the grand scheme of things - there weren't enough of them - but order in the Scottish force started to crumble. Most of the army was still trying to get across the sands, but as the vanguard on dry ground wavered in the face of the English attacks, the Scottish captains chose that moment to have an almighty row about what was best to do. Temporarily leaderless, not in proper battle order, hemmed in and basically in a complete logistical pickle, the Scottish panicked and routed. There were stories of groups of twenty or more Scots surrendering to single Englishmen.

Solway Moss could hardly have been unique. We are conditioned by the set piece battles of the Napoleonic period through to the 14/18 war to see warfare as basically a matter of attrition. But it wasn't. Morale could break quickly and as soon as it did, you were done for. There were exceptions, such as Towton, but the idea that everyone would hang around long enough for 30,000 to 100,000 people to be cut down is, in my view, unlikely in the extreme.

One would assume that once the Scots lost James at Flodden, it was all over. A shame for Scotland in many ways, not least because James IV was pretty much the only Stuart not to spend his entire reign tripping over his own feet and making a complete pig's breakfast of everything he turned his hand to.

Regards,

AR
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Fri 18 Jan 2013, 11:01

The question is though at what point was James killed and when was it realised that he was dead? The English would have preferred to have taken James alive as the ransom would have been enourmous. In fact I have wondered if james went down fighting for that reason.

Hastings/Sandlake is an example of a battle that seems to have gone on most of the day and 1st Newbury 1643AD lasted all day, both with significantly smaller numbers than those traditionally given for Flodden though.

Tim
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Arwe Rheged
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Wed 23 Jan 2013, 13:15

Hi Tim,

Good points. I'm not sure how it worked back then, but assuming His Majesty was stationed near the royal colours, one might assume that immediately after his death, the captured colours (if a) they existed and b) were captured) would be waved around by the English and would have an immediate effect on morale. Do we know if this is conceivable?

Incidentally, would it have been obvious to the average English billman or archer which one the Scottish king was?

Regards,

AR
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Wed 23 Jan 2013, 15:54

Going from memory, I'll need to check, the Scottish king and principal gentry traditionally lead the the army from the front and on foot. It as been suggested that this was one reason for the carnage amongst the nobility; they were not recognised in the fray as being valuable hostage material and so were mown down rather than taken alive.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Thu 24 Jan 2013, 13:02

Hi AR

the Scottish army left Branxton Hill between 4 and 5 pm to attack the English army and given that this was 9th September and with no summertime it would have got dark around 6.30 pm?

From the books I have read it seems that the English had difficulty in identifying James his body after the battle and that it had suffered multiple wounds. One book says that Andrew Forman, bishop of Moray, identified it but as he was not there that seems unlikely. His brother Sir John Foreman was there and taken prisoner so I suspect that it is he that identified the king.

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Sun 01 Sep 2013, 11:27

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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory   Mon 07 Apr 2014, 13:00

@ferval wrote:
Trike, have you read Tony Pollard and Neil Oliver's account of their archaeological investigation of Flodden in the book of 'Two Men in a Trench'? They came to much the same conclusion based on their inability to find so much as a single human bone, never mind mass graves. Even allowing for the brevity and limited nature of their digging and GPR being more primitive then, the apparent absence of any pits or grave cuts in the three locations which  either they assessed as being the most likely or where there were previous accounts of a mass grave being found would suggest that the figures you quote are much closer to the reality than the traditional figures.


 Yes, I have Ferval. I'm not sure how long Tony and Neil's dig lasted, but the quincentenary dig last year ran for two weeks, again no graves were found, though there is an interesting piece about the ground state in the marshy dip after heavy rain.


The final part of the Two Men in a Trench programme;



The report for last years' dig;

http://www.c-iyc.com/iFlodden/News/Entries/2013/10/2_Site_Report%2C_Flodden_Field_September_2013.html

"One things for certain, between 10,000 and 15,000 men died on the 9th September 1513"

No they didn't
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Flodden: The Ceratopsian Theory

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