Run History: Flodden Wall

Since my knee injury last year that unfortunately cost me my senior year track season, I have been working to get back to the running level I was at.  I’ve been running around the city quite a bit, here’s a new section for the blog that combines running and history because I am still a giant nerd.

Today I ran the approximate path of the Flodden Wall, the old 16c town wall of Edinburgh.

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Flodden Wall Run Stats

Distance: 6.5 km

Sites: Flodden Wall (Duh), Royal Mile, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh Castle, Grassmarket, Edinburgh University.

Run Features: Semi-busy roads, park trails, multiple hills, old stairs.

Run Type: Urban

The Flodden Wall dates to 1513.  The wall was constructed around the southern part of Edinburgh to guard the medieval town against English attacks.  It also served at the border for the official burgh of Edinburgh and distinguished between those who lived in the city and those who lived outside of the city.  It was important for many people to officially live in the city because then you were able to gain access to the city markets.

The wall takes its name from the Battle of Flodden which occurred on 9 September 1513.  The battle was fought in Northumbria between Scots forces under James IV and the English forces of the Earl of Surrey. It was a catastrophic Scots defeat with James IV killed during the battle.

Battle is a prime example of the ‘Auld Alliance’ between Scotland and France.  To put it bluntly, throughout history, the Scots and French teamed up to just to eff with the English.  And even sometimes the English teamed up with the Scots and French to eff with other English.  It’s messy.  But basically, it was a power free-for-all and everyone raised huge armies just to steal power and poke at each other.  And people say the twenty-first century is full of drama…

But, point blank, you see the ‘Auld Alliance’ time and time again during the earlier Hundred Years’ War and War of the Roses.  The Battle of Flodden was an attempt to divert the forces of Henry VIII from France.  Henry VIII had also claimed to be the supreme overlord of Scotland… and they didn’t really like that.

However, the scoreboard at the end of the Battle of Flodden was in favour of the English.

With the death of James IV, infant James V,the son of James IV and Margaret Tudor was crowned king of Scotland (well sort of, a committee of Parliament members ruled for him until he was of age).  If alarm bells didn’t ring at the name Tudor, Margaret was the sister to Henry VIII.  Like I said earlier, ‘Auld Alliance’ drama.

And because she’s really cool, here’s a side tangent on Margaret Tudor.  She married James IV as a means to bring peace between England and Scotland.  Their son was James V, the father of Mary, Queen of Scots (ANOTHER REALLY COOL FIGURE IN HISTORY).  Through her second marriage to some other Scottish noble, Margaret had a kid who had a kid who was Lord Darnley.  Lord Darnely was the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots (her first one, Francis of France (lol), died of a an ear infection… and was not a dashing blonde swordsman… I’M LOOKING AT YOU AND YOUR TELEVISED HISTORICAL INACCURACIES CW).  So basically, Margaret was the grandmother to both Lord Darnely and Mary, Queen of Scots.  The son of Lord Darnely and Mary, Queen of Scots would grow up to become James VI of Scotland… and James I of England!  He takes over after Elizabeth I dies without an heir, because technically he’s the closest living Stuart relative!

But anyway, back to the wall… basically it was created in case the English decided to march on Edinburgh during the time when the Scottish king, James V, was a literal defenseless infant.

Because building a wall is always the way to solve issues of foreign diplomacy, right?

One thought on “Run History: Flodden Wall

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