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Tudor Minute August 16: Battle of the Spurs

Today in 1513 the Battle of the Spurs took place.

Henry wanted to make England glorious again after the disastrous 15th century which was filled with civil war, and England losing all the land they had won in France except Calais. Where his father tried to avoid foreign wars, Henry jumped right in.

He married Katherine of Aragon immediately after becoming King, and that cemented his relationship with Spain against France, so there wasn’t any question whose side he was on to start with. Two years later, in 1511, he joined the Holy League with Venice and Spain, set up to defend the Papacy from France, which spent a lot of effort and energy during this period trying to win land in northern Italy that they had a claim to. So Henry joins with his father in law, and Italy, to defend the Pope. He promised to invade France, and in 1512 he began landing his troops there. After some initial struggles, he was successful in 1513 in the Battle of the Spurs, so named because of the speed at which the French horsemen left the battlefield, which Henry saw as a glorious victory, and led to Henry capturing Therouanne, and Tournai.

France was hoping that Scotland would distract England since France and Scotland were long standing allies, so it’s important to also note that this was also the time of the Battle of Flodden, which saw the death of over 10,000 Scots, and was the largest ever Anglo-Scottish battle. In this battle King James IV was killed, as well as three bishops.  It was well and truly a rout, and the Scots would be unable to provide much of a threat for years.

The Holy League never actually fulfilled their promises to Henry, and so Henry wound up making peace with France, and marrying his sister Mary to the very old French king. This, of course, is the famous story of Mary asking Henry for permission to marry for love if the French king died.

The Battle of the Spurs, today in 1513.

That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com where there are episodes devoted to the French foreign policy of the various monarchs.


Episode 067: Henry VII and his foreign policy

Episode 071: Henry VIII foreign policy