Why should new postgraduates at St Andrews thank James IV?

On 9th September 1513 King James IV of Scotland was defeated and killed at the Battle of Flodden and so became the last monarch in Great Britain to be killed in battle.  Catherine of Aragon sent his bloodstained shirt to King Henry VIII who was campaigning in France.

King James IV of Scotland, killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.


The eldest of James’ illegitimate children, Alexander Stewart, was also killed in the battle. Alexander had a cultured education. He studied in France, the Low Countries and Italy, culminating with studying rhetoric and Greek under Erasmus. He was also a prominent member of the Church.  He was made archdeacon in 1502 and then became the Archbishop of St Andrews in 1504 at the age of 11.

Dutch Renaissance Humanist, Erasmus.


Since he was so young James could receive revenues from St Andrews until Alexander was 27. In 1512 Alexander co-founded the College of St Leonard with John Hepburn. The purpose of this college was to train Augustinian canons. The chapel from this college still stands although its tower no longer remains.

St Leonards College
Postgraduate students wearing the gowns of St Leonard’s College

The College fell on hard times during the eighteenth Century but was subsequently reformed as a college for postgraduate students at the university in 1972.  Working closely alongside the Post Graate Society St Leonards College aims to create a supportive and informative community for postgraduate students at St Andrews.  So although there is no longer a building from which to operate as such, St Leonards College remains an active and fundamental part of student life here at the University


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