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The Queen’s Triumph? An Exploration of the Written Presentation of the Battle of Flodden by Catherine of Aragon and John Skelton by Rebecca Thomas

This essay evaluates how Catherine of Aragon’s influence on the English victory at the Battle of Flodden was understated by both herself and John Skelton to flatter the ego of King Henry VIII. Upon her husband leaving England to join her father’s conflict in France, Catherine was left as regent of England, and in 1513 defeated an invasion by Scottish forces. Flodden was a decisive and significant victory for Catherine’s forces, partially because the Scottish King, James IV, was killed at the battle. She could now add successful war-time leader to her perceived magnificent image as Queen Consort, though it was crucial to her marriage and the patriarchal hegemony of her time that she did not portray herself as outperforming Henry’s own feats. The essay looks at her presentation of the battle in a 1513 letter sent to her husband, which establishes her own pleasure at the victory without taking credit for it. Instead, she ascribes the success to God’s will regarding her husband.

Skelton’s A Ballade of the Scottysshe Kyng (1513), commemorates Flodden in the earliest known use of the ballad form in the English language. He goes further in omitting Catherine altogether and presents comparable attitudes throughout. 

This essay shows how the battle was interpreted as a sign of God’s grace toward Henry, both in private correspondence and in its public, literary presentation to the Henrician court. Catherine performs her own piety to assert her authority in the situation, offering a more nuanced view of the regent’s role.

Date created: 
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Attribution for this resource:
The Queen’s Triumph? An Exploration of the Written Presentation of the Battle of Flodden by Catherine of Aragon and John Skelton by Rebecca Thomas, All rights reserved.
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