“A beginning is a very delicate time”

Many will recognize the title as the opening sentence of the first book (and best I think) of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series. The header picture is the cover of Battles Magazine which featured the re-published game, “Flowers of the Forest”

The original idea for this blog was to do a fantasy, set in a mythical Cornwall, about an invasion by strange creatures arriving by balloon. It was set to happen near the beginning of the War of the Roses but would use a welter of both historic and fantasy characters. It was a fun idea. In the end, however, it took too much time away from my main pursuit, wargaming the Stewart period with a particular emphasis on the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, the pursuit of which can be found at In Red-coat Rags Attired.

Because of all the background reading and research required for my main blog, I have had to delve back a couple hundred years to understand both the history and the evolution of the weapons and tactical systems used in the British Isles from the War of the Roses to the beginning of the War of the Three Kingdoms. I should add that I use “British Isles” in a purely geographic sense as explained by Ordnance Survey. Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland and everything attached and in between can then be conveniently included.

I was aware of the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden back in 2013 but other than a casual glance I spent little time with it. As I researched backward, however, it has become more compelling. It is considered by many the last medieval battle but it has modern elements and is a perfect starting point for coming forward to 1638 and the prelude to the War of the Three Kingdoms.

Of the two Christmas gifts from my wife this year one was the two armies at Flodden purchased on EBay – well over 500 Pendraken 10mm figures (already painted!). I managed to find a copy of “Flowers of the Forest – Flodden 1513” (a wargame about Flodden, with great graphics and novel design). Armed with this and a half dozen Osprey and Partizan books on the period in the British Isles, I have launched another wargaming career, supportive and complementary to my continued main focus.

I now have to do a good deal of re-painting, new painting and basing to get this period ready to use. I plan to add also a fair number of figures from my War of the Roses armies to further pad out the forces of both sides (although the large cloud of longbowmen will not work unfortunately).

Since I am committed to using the soon to be released, For King and Parliament for my Mid-Seventeenth century gaming, I’ll use its parent, To the Strongest!, for this period (or more correctly, an amalgam of the two).

Flodden was a catastrophic defeat for the Scots, who had invaded England with the largest army they ever put into the field for that purpose. Not only were they soundly beaten by a somewhat smaller English army, but they lost a huge number of nobles, including their king, James IV, all of whom went down fighting at the head of their troops.

The pathos of this event has been immortalized in story, song, legend and art, and rediscovered by each succeeding generation. Arguably, one of the most recognizable pipe tunes worldwide is Flowers of the Forest , a tune that was early associated with Flodden. While dozens of bagpipe recordings are available, I chose the electronic version below. It presents one of the earlier sets of lyrics (with convenient translation helps from the Scots English) and is played in a more upbeat 6/8 (I think!):

A huge amount of work now begins to first assemble the Scots Army.


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