James IV of Scotland

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James IV (17 March 1473 – 9 September 1513) was King of Scots from 11 June 1488 to his death. He is generally regarded as the most successful of the Stewart monarchs of Scotland, but his reign ended with the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Flodden Field, where he became the last monarch from Great Britain to be killed in battle.


Early life

James IV was the son of James III and Margaret of Denmark, probably born in Stirling Castle. As heir apparent to the Scottish crown, he became Duke of Rothesay. His father was not a popular king and faced two major rebellions during his reign. During the second rebellion, the rebels set up the 15-year-old James as their nominal leader. His father was killed fighting the rebels at the Battle of Sauchieburn on 11 June 1488, and James took the throne and was crowned at Scone on 24 June. When he realised the indirect role which he had played in the death of his father, he decided to do penance for his sin. From that date on, he wore a heavy iron chain cilice around his waist, next to the skin, each Lent as penance, adding every year extra ounces.[1]


James IV quickly proved to be an effective ruler. He defeated another rebellion in 1489, took a direct interest in the administration of justice and finally brought the Lord of the Isles under control in 1493. For a time, he supported Perkin Warbeck, the pretender to the English throne, and carried out a brief invasion of England on his behalf in 1496. However, he recognized that peace between Scotland and England was in the interest of both countries, and established good diplomatic relations with England, at that time emerging from a period of civil war, and in 1502 signed the Treaty of Perpetual Peace with Henry VII. He also saw the importance in building a fleet that could provide Scotland with a strong maritime presence. James founded two new dockyards for the purpose and acquired a total of 38 ships for the Royal Scottish Navy, including the Margaret, and the carrack Michael or Great Michael. The latter, built at great expense at Newhaven and launched in 1511, was 240 feet (73 m) in length, weighed 1,000 tons and was, at that time, the largest ship in Europe.

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