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The Last British King to Lead Troops & Die in Battle

George II at Battle of Dettingen

George II at Battle of Dettingen

George II was the last British monarch born outside the British Isles of Great Britain; George was born and brought up in what is now known as Northern Germany. He became king in 1727, then during the War of the Austrian Succession, George II fought at the Battle of Dettingen on 27 June 1743; as armies from Great Britain, Hanover and Austria battled with France and thus became the last British monarch to lead an army in battle.

To find the last English monarch to die leading his men in battle, we must look back another 250 hundred years.  It was Richard III, King of England for just two years, from his coronation in  1483 until his death in 1485, when he dies leading his troops at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

It is this event, at Bosworth Field,  that William Shakespeare illustrates in his play ‘Richard III’ with the immortal words

“A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”

Richard III

Richard III

 

But while Richard III may have been the last English monarch to die leading his troops in battle and then spend centuries buried under what was to become council car park in Leicester; he was certainly not the last British monarch to do so!

This mark of respect falls to James IV of Scotland, at the Battle of Flodden, sometimes referred to as The Battle of Branxton, which was fought in Northumberland on 9 September 1513, some thirty years later.

King James IV lead an invading Scottish army and faced an English army commanded by the Earl of Surrey, the day ended with victory for the English army, and is the largest battle, in terms of fighting troops, fought between the two nations.  James IV was killed in the battle, becoming the last monarch from the British Isles to suffer such a fate.

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