The seventy year old called out in a strong voice: 'Men of England, I am Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, charged by your king to defend his realm. Many of you know me. Many of you are brothers-in-arms from earlier days.'
The front ranks stared up at his broad forehead and long, high-bridged nose.
'Witness our banners!'
He motioned to men guarding a row of flagpoles. They pulled ropes and an ancient cloth of velvet bearing the symbol of St George, a red cross on a white field, fell open. Next, the banner of the Tudors unfurled, a red dragon on green and white. Then the banners of the chief commanders: the quartered red of the Howard lions, the three stags' heads of Stanley, the white scallops of Dacre and the blue-and-yellow chequer board of the Cliffords dropped open, followed by the colours of lesser houses.
'Once again the Scots torch our land.' He pointed to the ancient cloth. 'Once again we gather beneath the sacred flag of St Cuthbert that has never failed to bless us with the strength to defeat them.'
A cheer went up.