Ward's Book of Days.
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What happened on this day in history.
On this day in history in 1503, the Treaty of Everlasting Peace was signed.
The treaty was a thee party pact between Henry VII of England, James IV of Scots and Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia. It was binding not only on the kings who signed it, but also on their successors in perpetuity. It provided that England would not make war on Scotland, Scotland would not attack England and that the Pope would take extreme action, including excommunication, on any king who broke the treaty. The treaty was to be solemnised by the marriage of James to Henry’s daughter, Margaret.
It was hoped that years of war between the two countries would now cease. Henry, the first Tudor king, needed stability in his kingdom, as he feared an uprising by the Yorkist supporters. He had good reason to fear an invasion as he had gained the throne himself by launching an invasion and killing Richard III in battle.
James too feared an uprising at home. He had gained the throne by supporting a group of dissident nobles, who had captured the king, James’ father James III of Scots, as an English army was invading and tried to force him to abdicate. In 1488, the rebels had fought the battle of Sauchiburn against James III, both sides flying the Scottish flag of the Lion Rampant, and defeated and killed him. James IV was then crowned at Scone but when he discovered that he had been used by the rebels to eradicate the king his father, he did penance by wearing an iron chain around his waist for the rest of his life.
James took advantage of the peace between the kingdoms to stabilise his realm. He subdued the overbearing Lord of the Isles and gained full dominion over the Western Isles. He built a small but impressive navy, patronised literature, introduced compulsory education and founded King’s College, Aberdeen, now part of Aberdeen University, and the Edinburgh College of Surgeons.
When Henry VIII succeeded to the throne of England, the treaty continued to work well. The relationship between the kings was not amicable but they ignored each other and peace was maintained. In 1513, Henry, fondly imagining that the treaty would protect him from invasion from the north, invaded France. James was tempted. He could win some territory, in particular Berwick-on-Tweed, which he considered to be his but was occupied by England. James crossed the Tweed and after some military success was met by the Earl of Surrey at Flodden Field. In the battle that followed, the Scots suffered their heaviest defeat ever. They lost twenty-eight Nobles, fifty Knights and ten thousand foot soldiers. Worst of all, James himself was killed in battle and his body carried away to London.
James was excommunicated, under the terms of the treaty, and therefore could not be buried in consecrated ground. Henry had the body placed in a monastery at Sheen, Surrey, and thought to ask the pope for permission to have James properly buried in due course. Later, Henry fell out with the pope, dissolved the monasteries and James’ body was forgotten and vanished. The treaty too was forgotten and vanished.
Stewart, A J. Falcon: The Autobiography of His Grace James IV, King of Scots. (Paperback reprint)
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