Solway Moss and the Death of James V

What can explain the Scottish King's rash challenge to his uncle of England, Henry VIII, in 1542? In that year, writes Albert Makinson, a Scots army was destroyed on the borders of Cumberland, and James's throne passed to his daughter, Mary, before whom lay a tragic destiny.

In the long and confused history of Border warfare between the English and the Scots, there can have been few encounters so odd as the battle of Solway Moss—which was, indeed, one of the strangest adventures in military history.

Nevertheless, in spite of its political importance, this battle has been surprisingly neglected, and it is difficult to find a full account, beyond the brief notices in the general histories of the period.

Flodden, twenty-nine years earlier, was a more spectacular victory—or defeat—and has had its historians in plenty, although most of them have different tales to tell; but Solway Moss remains little more than a name.

While many maps record the traditional site of the battlefield, few accord it the correct date; on the larger-scale maps of the Ordnance Survey, it is dated 1543, and on the latest edition of the one-inch map, 1548; in fact the battle took place on November 24th, 1542.

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