Here are some strange facts about the 15th Century Scottish King James IV, from guest writer KEITH COLEMAN
Strange things about King James IV of Scotland
1. The king wore an iron belt as a penance for his part in a civil war against his father and added weights to it each year to signify his guilt.
2. His father, King James III, was warned by a fortune teller that one of his close family would cause his death. He allegedly killed his own brother, but in the end it was his own son who joined conspirators against him.
3. James IV was a follower of science and also practiced medicine and dentistry. On occasion he compassionately paid patients for allowing him to extract teeth.
4. On the fringes of science, the king also practiced alchemy and sponsored an Italian monk and alchemist who nearly killed himself by trying to jump off Stirling Castle with a set of home-made wings.
5. Although the days of crusades were passed by the 16th century, James IV dreamed of leading a Christian army to the Holy Land. He went as far as to inquire about hiring a fleet of ships at Venice.
6. The king was warned against going to war with England by a mysterious figure, supposed to be St James, who appeared before king and court in the church of Linlithgow. After denouncing the king the man instantly vanished without a trace.
7. A few days later a ghostly proclamation was made at midnight at the Market Cross in Edinburgh, announcing the forthcoming slaughter of the Scottish army at the Battle of Flodden and naming all those who would be slaughtered there.
8. The king’s wife, Queen Margaret (sister of King Henry VIII), also dreamed that disaster was coming before her husband went into battle. Despite this and her warning that he was ‘going to fight a mighty nation’, King James invaded England.
9. King James and most of his army were slaughtered at Flodden. His body was taken to a monastery in Surrey and laid unburied there for decades. There were many rumours that he survived the battle, including the tale that he was taken off the battlefield by four horsemen. One of his biographers equates these knights with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
10. There were tales that James IV had been taken to the Otherworld and lives there still. In the early 20th century the notorious magician Aleister Crowley accused his rival Samuel Macgregor Mathers of claiming to be the reincarnation of the king. A modern writer also claims to be the king reborn.
You can order Keith Coleman’s The Afterlife of King James IV: Otherworld legends of the Scottish king from Amazon.