Archive for the ‘Great Figures of Medieval Scotland’ Category

Many years ago, tired of the oppression upon his country, a man rose up from the shadows, one without a well-known name, seemingly from nowhere, and led his country in the Scottish Wars for Independence. That man, is now a household name: Sir William Wallace, aka Braveheart.

There is not much known of Wallace and his earlier days. It is thought that he grew up in a family of means—they were landholders. Wallace would have been exposed to the sort of education that a lower gentry family would have. He’d have trained with a sword as well, which also explains why he was so great with wielding one—comes with practice.

No one is sure of his parentage, other than his father was either Alan or Malcolm Wallace and his birthdate is unknown; however it is believed he was in his twenties when he died.

Through William’s early childhood years, Scotland was ruled by King Alexander III, and was relatively peaceful. However, with the King’s death in 1286, Scotland was thrown into turmoil. King Alexander’s heir was a young girl who passed on her way to Scotland to sit upon her throne. In stepped King Edward of England, better known as Longshanks. Brutality was about to begin as the English king sought to take control of the country and weed the Scots from their own lands.

It is my guess that William was between the ages of 6 and 10 at this time, old enough to witness the new brutality and to remember a time when Scotland was ruled by its own people.

At some point, Wallace joined up with Andrew Moray, another leader in the war, declaring his intentions to help lead the country to freedom. There is some speculation about his reason behind joining the revolt, and a legend that whispers from one shore to the next of a wife or love of his that was murdered by the English. There is no proof of this, but I like to believe it because it’s romantic and softens the brutality of war, heightens our beliefs in the violence that must be unleashed.

What is more likely, is that William Wallace was devoted to his country. He remembered growing up in peace and wished for any children he might have to live the same way. He wanted the English king out. He wanted a Scots king in.

His first act against the English was in May 1297 when he executed the High Sheriff of Lanark.  My novel, The Highlander’s Reward (Stolen Bride Series) begins in September 1297 on the eve of the Battle at Stirling Bridge. Wallace would have been between 17 and 22 at the time. I’m leaning more toward the latter, which puts him at 29 at his death. My reasoning behind this is that he would have been a more seasoned warrior, more capable at age 22 rather than 17 to take on a leading role. (*Of note: most portrait depictions of Wallace put him much older, which is misleading—the portraits were also done years after his death.) Wallace is described by contemporary accounts as being a rather giant of a man—perhaps 6’5 or 6’6 and well-muscled.

It is probable that prior to the Scottish Wars for Independence that he had some military experience, but none are recorded. He and Moray were victorious, however Moray died sometime later of the wounds he sustained. My hero, Magnus Sutherland, was instrumental in helping the Scots to win this battle, and it’s the first time he meets Wallace, but not the last. In fact, Wallace will play a part in each book in the Stolen Bride series.

Prior to Moray’s death, he and Wallace were named the Guardians of Scotland. By the end of 1297 early 1298, William Wallace was knighted by one of the leading Scottish earls, Lennox, Carrick or Strathearn. In 1298, Wallace lost the Battle of Falkirk against the English, but did not allow that to deter him. He gave over his guardianship of Scotland to Robert the Bruce, putting his full support behind the Bruce, but continued to play a part in the war for freedom.

Unfortunately, Wallace would not live to see his dream of freedom realized. He was caught and subsequently executed by the English in 1305—his charge, treason against the crown. While he did not live to see it, the dream lived on and freedom reigned in 1328…until the next war.

THE HIGHLANDER’S REWARD

She belonged to another… But was destined to be his…

Lady Arbella de Mowbray abhors the idea of marrying an English noble occupying Scotland. When she arrives in Stirling, she is thrown into the midst of a full battle between the Scots and the English. Besieged by rebels, she is whisked from her horse by a Highland warrior who promises her safety. But when he kisses her she fears she’s more in danger of losing herself.

The last thing Magnus Sutherland wants is to marry the beautiful English lass he saved. As the laird of his clan, he has a responsibility to his clan and allies. But when Arbella is attacked by one of his own men, he determines the only way to keep her safe is to make her his. A decision that promises to be extremely satisfying.

Magnus brings Arbella to his home of Dunrobin Castle in the Highlands. And that’s where the trouble begins… Their countries are at war and they should be each other’s enemy. Neither one considered their mock marriage would grow into a deeply passionate love. What’s more, they were both unhappily betrothed and those who’ve been scorned are out for revenge. Can their new found love keep them together or will their enemies tear them apart?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eliza Knight is the multi-published author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor. Visit Eliza at www.elizaknight.com or her historical blog History Undressed: www.historyundressed.com Twitter: @ElizaKnight and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizaknightauthor

Please welcome today my friend Ian Colville.  In a virtual case of It’s a Small World, I ‘met’ Ian, as best as I can remember (Ian will hopefully correct me if I’m wrong), when he stopped by my blog or facebook author page and said hello, having read my book.  On checking out his site, a Scottish ‘Book of Days,’ I realized it was Iainthepict, whose site was among those I had used in researching the book!  I have recently learned Ian is also a poet and author, having been published previously in an anthology, and just weeks ago, released his own book of poetry, Poetry on the Rocks, which I have been enjoying.

If you love Scotland and Scottish history, check out his site!  And now, here’s Ian on some of Scotland’s great heroes.

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Scotland has had many heroes over the centuries. Some are very well known, thanks in no small part to a Hollywood motion picture, written by an American, starring an Australian and filmed in Ireland. Now, there’s a diaspora for ye! Yet some of Scotland’s heroes are less well known, at least  outwith certain circles, notably those involving Laura and her fans. You’d have to number in that company of medieval knights in armour, two men in particular; Sir James Douglas – the Good Sir James – and Sir Andrew de Moray.

Like William Wallace, both of these men had a grudge to bear against their Anglo-Norman adversary, Edward Plantagenet, the first of that ill bred eponymous triumvirate and the one known as Longshanks. Funnily enough, these two guys had something else in common as their two families were related. Sir James Douglas’ great-great-grandfather had been the brother-in-law of Sir Freskin de Kerdale, from the Laich of Moray, and that Flemish gentleman was the 12th Century founder of the house of Moray from which Sir Andrew was descended.

Douglas’ grudge stemmed from his father’s capture and imprisonment by the English and having had his inheritance taken from him by Edward I, to be bestowed upon my Lord Clifford. The elder Douglas, Sir William ‘le Hardy’, the first Lord of Douglasdale, had joined Wallace in 1296 and was to die in captivity, either in the Tower of London, in 1298, or in the Tower of York, in 1302.

Coincidentally, de Moray’s father had also been imprisoned by Edward of England and that was part of his grudge against that king. After Dunbar, the elder Sir Andrew de Moray of Petty had been incarcerated in the Tower of London, where he died on the 4th of April, 1298. Perhaps William Douglas and Andrew Moray became neighbouring inmates in the dungeons of London’s Tower, where they might have played cards and expressed their hopes and fears for the future welfare of their sons and heirs.

Whilst James Douglas had fled to France after his father’s capture, returning later to join up with Robert the Bruce, Andrew Moray had felt Edward’s hospitality at first hand, having been a prisoner in Chester Castle. He didn’t like that much, during the winter of 1296-97, and so he escaped. After that, Moray’s tale is tied up with that of Wallace and, sadly, it has been more or less overshadowed by the fabled exploits of his erstwhile companion. If ever there was a gap in the market for a stirring tale of medieval derring-do, it would be that of Sir Andrew Moray of Petty, following his proclamation of defiance against the English at Avoch in Ross, in May of 1297.

Of course, the course of history would not have been the same had not Alexander III fallen to his death down a wee bit bank near Findhorn in Fife, in the misty-moisty, early morning hours of the 19th of March, 1286. Mystery persists around his death. Perhaps, along with that of Henry, Lord Darnley, who also died mysteriously in the early hours of a morning, in Kirk o’ Field, in Edinburgh, in 1567, it ranks as the greatest unsolved murder mystery in Scotland; who knows.

What is fair to say, is that the Bruces had most to gain from Alexander’s death. Everyone remembers Robert the Bruce, but not many recall his Pa was also called Robert. In fact, Robert the eldest son was the ninth such of that name in the space of ten generations. But it wasn’t Robert’s Dad who was the driving force, it was his grandfather who would be King – and time was running out for him. In 1286, Robert Bruce, the Competitor, had only nine years left before he was to die.

Nobody would suggest that an eleven years old Robert Bruce of Annandale would be up to mischief after midnight of the 18th of March, 1286, though somebody might raise the question of where was his father that night. Perhaps he was on the way back from the Bruce Lordship in the Garioch, by way of Fife, heading for one of the few crossings of the Forth, at Queensferry, on his way back to the south west. Well, he could’ve been.

So, think on this if you’re seeking a storyline for your next book; anyone whose son could play stabbety-stab with his main rival inside a kirk in Dumfries in 1306, could just as easily play bumps-a-daisy with Alexander mac Alexander mac William mac Henry at the top of a slippery slope in Fife, in the dark, in 1286. There is no evidence for that, of course, but it’d make a great motion picture. You can just see Russell Crowe in the role of the King, with Ewan McGregor as the Earl of Carrick and surely, the tale would read well in a book. Murder mystery, anyone?

 

Bio:

iainthepict

Ian Colville writes a blog about Scottish history, under the pseudonym of ‘iainthepict’, a nom de guerre he’s been using for his on-line presence since the Internet contrived to set us all free (or let loose). Ian also writes poetry, using the same nom de plume, as a contributor to Jottify, and on his own Blogger page as iainthepoet. His blog about Scottish historical events is a sort of ‘book of days’, intended to present at least one post for each day of the year. It’s in its third year now, but it’s becoming a bit sporadic. Ian has also been writing poetry, albeit sporadically, for the last forty years or so, however, the major portion of his poems have been written in the last decade. He writes in English and Scots, and has written a couple of poems in German. Three of Ian’s poems appear in ‘Wordgasm’, a best-selling and award winning anthology with attitude, published by American author Rob Deck, in February, 2011. Ian has also published an e-book, entitled ‘Poetry on the Rocks’, which is available in the Jottify store.

 

Learn more about Ian at:

http://iainthepict.blogspot.com

http://iainthepoet.blogspot.com

http://jottify.com/writer/iainthepict/

http://jottify.com/book/poetry-on-the-rocks/