The Battle of Sauchieburn: #OnThisDay

On June 11th 1488 the Battle of Sauchieburn took place just south of Stirling.

cropped image from the oil painting of the young king being crowned
James III King of Scots from a painting by Hugo van der Goes

The battle was fought between as many as 30,000 troops of King James III and some 18,000 troops raised by Scottish nobles who favoured the King’s then-15-year-old son, Prince James.

The ‘rebels’ were led by Alexander Home, 1st Lord Home, Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus, Patrick Hepburn, 1st Earl of Bothwell and Lord Gray. The troops were largely from East Lothian, the Merse, Galloway, and the border counties.

The battle went badly for the Royalists. Persistent legends, based on the highly coloured and unreliable accounts of sixteenth century chroniclers such as Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, John Leslie, and George Buchanan, claim that James III was assassinated at Milltown, near Bannockburn, soon after the battle. There is no contemporary evidence to support this account, nor the allegation that he fled the battle, nor the tale that his assassin impersonated a priest in order to approach James.

Prince James ascended to the throne, and reigned as James IV for twenty-five years. Throughout his reign he wore a heavy iron chain around his waist, next to the skin, as a constant reminder of his role in the death of his father.

The Douglas Archives

Historic Environment Scotland have an Inventory of the battlefield which you can find here: Battle of Sauchieburn

“The battle is significant as a new King comes to the throne of Scotland as a direct result of the conflict. It also one of the few battles where a reigning King of Scotland is killed as a result of the battle, although James III does not appear to have died in the battle itself but in his attempt to escape.” – HES

Hugo can der Goes

Painted by Hugo van der Goes around 1475, the Trinity Panels are one of the greatest works of early Netherlandish painting in Britain.

The four panels are thought to be the wings of a triptych and the missing centre panel may have depicted a ‘Virgin and Child with Angels’. The open triptych would therefore have shown James III of Scotland (accompanied by his son James, presented by St Andrew) and Margaret of Denmark (presented by another saint, probably St George) before the Virgin, while the closed triptych would have shown the Trinity (God, Christ and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove) worshipped by the donor Edward Bonkil. – THE TRINITY PANELS BY HUGO VAN DER GOES

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