James Graham – 1st Marquess of Montrose and 5th Earl of Montrose

James Graham

James Graham

Portrait by William Dobson, some commentary by Carolyn Bruce.

James Graham was hung, quartered and his head impaled on a stake at the Mercat Cross on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, On 21 May in 1650!

On 21 May 1650, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose and 5th Earl of Montrose, Chief of Clan Graham and an able and brilliant soldier, was hanged at Old Market Cross in Edinburgh. When Charles I tried to force upon the Scots a prayer book they regarded as “too Catholic”, the Presbyterian Scots resisted, and James Graham joined them,  partially because of the political power King Charles had vested in Anglican Bishops. Civil war raged for years, with Montrose participating at first against the king, and later, against the Covenanters, as he tried to establish an apolitical clergy. His reputation as a military leader was well earned, and after the Battle of Kilsyth in 1645, the king appointed him Lord Lieutenant and Captain-general of Scotland. When Charles I was defeated in the Battle of Naseby and sent for Montrose to come to his aid, Montrose was defeated at Philiphaugh. Unable to raise another army, he escaped to Norway. Charles I was beheaded, and his son, Charles II, in exile, from where he appointed Montrose Lieutenant of Scotland. As such he returned home to raise an army, but was betrayed; the king had struck a deal with the Covenanters to regain his throne. After his execution “The Great Montrose” was decapitated and his head was set upon “the prick [pike] on the highest stone” of the Old Tolbooth at St. Giles Cathedral. There it remained for 11 years, at which time his body parts were reunited for a hero’s funeral.

******

You can read about this event in my novel DARK DESTINY, which is book three of the DARK BIRTHRIGHT TRILOGY.

Here is an excerpt:

Chapter 30 – “Letters” June 29, 1650

Drake Castle

The Duke stood in his study, gazing out the open window.  The day was oppressively hot, with temperatures above ninety.  Because of the weather, he was informally dressed – in breeks, a shirt, and no shoes or socks.  “Whew, it’s hot!”  He mopped his brow with a handkerchief.

Dughall spotted Jamison crossing the courtyard with a pack of letters in his hand.  His spirits lifted.  “Perhaps it’s from Gilbert.”  He left the window and moved his ledgers to the sideboard.  There was a knock on the door.  “Come in.”

Jamison entered.  “My Lord.”  The servant was sweaty from the heat.  “A courier dropped these letters at the gate.”  He placed them on the desk.

“How many are there?”

“Three.”

Dughall motioned for him to take a seat.  He picked up one of the envelopes and saw that it was addressed to Jamison.  “This one is for ye.”

The servant grinned.  “I know.  I want to read it together.  It’s from my contact in Edinburgh.  He’s a member of Parliament.  I asked about Montrose.”

Dughall frowned.  “Ah…  The trial.”

“And execution.”

“We shall see.”  The Duke sliced open the envelope and extracted the letter.  “Shall I read out loud?”

“Aye.”

The author had some schooling.  It was written in fancy handwriting.

Jamison my friend,

You inquired about the Marquess of Montrose.  There is quite a story to tell.  The Parliament condemned him to death in absentia before he arrived here.  James Graham was brought as a prisoner to Edinburgh and without trial was sentenced to death on May 20th.  Archibald Johnston read his fate out loud for all to hear.  He was to be hanged at the Market Cross with a copy of De Rebus hung ‘round his neck.  This book you may remember was Bishop Wishart’s favorable biography of Graham’s life.  But there was more to his humiliation!  He was to swing on the scaffold for three hours, after which time, his head was to be severed and his body quartered.  Unless he repented, he was to be buried in unhallowed ground. 

Graham did not repent.  He insisted that he was a real Covenanter and a loyal subject.  This was met with jeers and shameful gestures of mockery.

I watched the sentence carried out on May 21st at the town market cross.  I must say that Graham accepted his fate with grace and courage.  When allowed final words, he prayed to heaven, “Scatter my ashes!  Strew them in the air, Lord, since thou knowest where all these atoms are.”

The hanging was then carried out.  As prescribed, his body hung for three hours, was decapitated, and quartered.  The head was displayed on a pike at the Tollbooth Prison, while the parts were dispersed for display in Glasgow, Perth, Stirling, and Aberdeen.      

I suspect that you will approve of this action, given your experience with the man.  But it was a disgraceful end for a Lord of the realm.  I fear that we have set a bad precedent.  After his death, some of us convinced Parliament to bury his body parts in hallowed ground.  They were going to dump them in a common grave on Burgh Muir.

In closing, we must be careful what we wish for!  Someday, it could apply to us.  I hope that this satisfies your curiosity.  Stay safe, my friend.  Give my regards to Lord Drake and the Lady of the castle.

 Sincerely – John H.

The Duke shuddered.  “He’s right.  That was a disgraceful way for a lord to die.”

Jamison grunted.  “Agreed.”

******

Our Sketch of Lord Montrose

Our Sketch of Lord Montrose

You can read about the trilogy at:

http://www.DarkBirthrightSaga.com

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An excerpt from “Dark Lord” – from a chapter named “Covenant”

Alex Hay

Alex Hay

February 28, 1638, Edinburgh, Scotland

The morning was cold and dry in the city. There had been little snow or rain that month, causing fresh water shortages. The sun had just risen, casting rays through low clouds. The streets were bustling with activity. Women swept their doorsteps and hung out damp bedding to dry. Children ran with dogs, shouting and spinning hoops. Tradesmen and mariners left their homes to go to their daily jobs. These things were happening and more. For more than fifty thousand men had descended upon Edinburgh to sign the National Covenant. They came from all parts of Scotland; the Highlands, Lowlands, and even the islands.
***
Back in October, the King had stripped the capitol city of purpose and influence. He’d ordered the petitioners to leave or be arrested and tried for treason. Worse yet, the Privy Council and law courts were advised to desert Edinburgh for a secure location. The King had promised to consider the petitions when the city was peaceful, but that hadn’t happened. Instead, he seemed content to let them stew in their own juice. Dozens of petitioners were arrested and transferred to London to await their fate in the Tower of London. Many of the Lords involved withdrew to safe locations to raise money and support for Leslie’s army. There was no doubt as to how this would go down.
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Word of the rebellion traveled to the far reaches of Scotland via letters, posters, and personal accounts. The protest grew into a campaign of petitions and supplications denouncing the Laudian prayer book and criticising the power of bishops.
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Led by the lords Loudoun, Rothes, Balmerino, and Lindsay, the supplicants organised four elected “Tables” or committees to represent the nobility, gentry, burgesses and clergy. A fifth Table was to act as an executive body. In the face of the Privy Council’s impotence, they acted as an alternative government.
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The well-respected clergyman Alexander Henderson and the lawyer Archibald Johnstone were tasked with drawing up a National Covenant. It was to unite the supplicants and clarify aims, the main one being a rejection of untried “innovations” in religion.
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Favors were called in and loyalties tested. By early December, the specter of religious persecution was the basis for fiery sermons, town hall meetings, and supper table conversation. Money was raised; weapons and supplies gathered, and men committed themselves to the cause. They awaited marching orders.
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Word came in mid-January, asking them to report to Edinburgh by the end of the third week of February. There they would be given the opportunity to sign a covenant and pledge their support for the rebellion. In vague terms, they were told about Leslie’s army and encouraged to join the ranks.
Lord Traquair, after his brush with death in the Edinburgh riot, obtained permission to come to the King. He told Charles frankly that he must either abandon the new Liturgy requirements or come to Scotland with 40,000 armed men. Instead of an army, Traquair was given a proclamation to deliver. The King made it clear that it was he not the bishops who was responsible for the new service book. Anyone who dared to oppose it directly challenged the King’s authority. The proclamation was read on the twenty-second of February to a hostile crowd who greeted it with hoots and jeers. A rival protestation was read in the presence of his Majesty’s heralds, who could not escape the crowd. They were bound to report to the King.
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This created a need for a signed Covenant. Henderson and Johnstone were encouraged to complete it in a manner that would leave little open to debate. Not all ministers were convinced that Episcopacy was against divine law, so no mention was to be made of bishops. They were to ask all signatories to pledge themselves to defend the reformed religion and resist innovations, unless accepted by free assemblies and Parliaments.
***
It was now the twenty-eighth of February. According to posters and the word on the street, the National Covenant would be presented today. Supporters were to attend a ceremony in Greyfriars Kirk to commit to preserving the purity of the church.
***
Alex Hay was one such man. He’d spent five months in Leslie’s army, with only sporadic contact with his family. The militia had grown rapidly after the riot, from a private army of mercenaries to a loosely organized force of thousands. They’d made him a lieutenant and put him in charge of a band of plough boys no older than his sons…

Read about it at:

http://www.DarkBirthrightSaga.com

The Royal Demise of King Charles I – a snippet from “Dark Destiny”.

King Charles I

King Charles I

Historical Background

Parliament appointed a High Court of Justice in January 1649.  King Charles I was charged with high treason against the people of England for his part in the English Civil War. The King’s trial opened on 20 January. He refused to answer the charges, saying that he did not recognise the authority of the High Court, but he was found guilty of the charges against him and sentenced to death on 27 January 1649. The King was beheaded on a scaffold outside the Banqueting House at Whitehall on 30 January.

This event is dramatized in my novel DARK DESTINY, book three of the Dark Birthright trilogy.  Here is a snippet from the book.

From a chapter named “Royal Demise”

January 30, 1649 – London, England – 9:30am – St. James’ Park

            It was a bitter morning in London, with temperatures hovering in the low thirties.  It was so cold that the Thames froze over.  The sky was overcast, a harbinger of things to come.

King Charles knelt beside his dog; a brown and white spaniel named Rogue, and caressed his ears.  “Never fear, my friend.  Someone will care for you.”  The dog gazed at him with innocent eyes.  Charles knew that he would never see him again.

“My King!” William Juxon cried.  The Bishop of London looked stricken.  “I would be pleased to take him to your family or keep him myself if need be.”

Charles looked up.  “Thank you, friend.”  The old man was a devoted companion.  “May God smile upon you.”  The King stroked the dog’s back and planted a kiss on his head.  Then he struggled to stand, relying upon his weak ankles.

“Let me help, your Majesty!”  The Bishop reached out to assist him.

Charles waved a hand.  “Nay, let me do it.”  After a few more attempts he was upright, facing the Bishop.  He gazed at the sky and sighed.  “Such a beautiful morning.”

Juxon raised his eyebrows.

The King smiled.  “Ah…  I know that it is not.  Humor me.  For it is the last morning that I will ever see.”

“Oh…”  The Bishop was close to tears, “I wish that was not true.”

The King squeezed his shoulder.  “Weep not for me.  For this is my second marriage day.  Before night I hope to be espoused to my blessed Jesus.”

Juxon wept openly.

Charles barely heard him.  Now that he’d said goodbye to the dog, he obsessed on events that led up to his predicament.  After a long incarceration, he’d escaped to the Isle of Wight.  Betrayed by the island’s governor, he’d been confined to Carisbrooke Castle.  From this location, he bargained with various royalist parties and signed a secret treaty with the Scots.  His offer was simple.  If they would invade England on Charles’ behalf and restore him to the throne, he would tolerate Presbyterianism.  Factions of royalist Scots invaded England, sparking a brutal second civil war.  They were soundly defeated.

After failed negotiations, the King was moved to Hurst Castle in late 1648, then to Windsor Castle.  For encouraging a civil war while in captivity, the monarch was accused of high treason.  The House of Commons passed an Act of Parliament to create a court for his trial.

Charles had thought that this action would fail.  It was dangerous to accuse a King of treason.  Indeed, many potential commissioners refused to serve.  Then the unthinkable happened.  In early January, he’d been put on trial before sixty-eight commissioners who urged him to enter a plea.  Charles refused, claiming that no court had jurisdiction over a monarch.  He argued that his authority to rule had been given to him by God when he was crowned and the trial was illegal.  Three times he refused to enter a plea!  It was seen as an admission of guilt.  The trial proceeded, witnesses were heard, and fifty-nine of the commissioners signed his death warrant.

The Chief Judge had delivered the sentence, “Charles Stuart is a tyrant, traitor, murderer, and public enemy to the good of this nation.  He shall be put to death by severing his head from his body.”

The memory infuriated him.  When the sentence was passed, I tried to defend myself.  They would not hear me!  I was taken from the court by armed soldiers like a common criminal.  He’d been granted a few days to make peace with God and say goodbye to his family.

The Bishop of London helped him to prepare for the ordeal, joining him for morning prayers and administering the Sacrament.  He read the lesson for the day, ‘The Passion of the Christ’.  Charles found it reassuring.  Like Christ the Savior, he was ready to endure this final humiliation to meet his maker.  Some thought him guilty.  But God would absolve him of wrongdoing.

His family was another story.  His two oldest sons and younger daughter were living in Paris, under the protection of the exiled Stuart court.  It gave him comfort that his son James had escaped parliamentary custody to travel to France, disguised as a woman.  His bloodline would continue and eventually prevail.  The only ones left in London were his wife Henrietta, his thirteen-year-old daughter Elizabeth, and nine-year-old son Henry.  He hadn’t seen his wife in more than four years.  They’d quarreled over fundamental issues, one being her unfaithfulness.  Therefore, he’d snubbed his wife and allowed only his daughter and son to visit.

Charles got revenge.  His last words to his daughter were “Tell your mother that my thoughts never strayed from her, and that love should be the same to the last.  I have always been faithful to her.”  This innocuous message pleased his children, but he knew that it would wound his wife.  He’d investigated her infidelity and found that she betrayed him.  He confronted her with evidence and extracted a confession about that traitorous Scot, Lord Gordon.  He gritted his teeth.  How many more were there?  French whore!

Colonel Thomlinson approached.  The uniformed man was in charge of the two companies of infantry guarding him.  He stroked his beard nervously.  “It is time, Your Majesty.”

The King unconsciously touched his neck.  They will escort me to my death.  Breathe, Charles!  Dignity is required.  You must not show fear.  He had dressed in thick underclothes so that he would not shiver from the cold.  It could be interpreted as a sign of weakness.

“Your Majesty,” the Colonel repeated.  “The signal has been given.  We must go.”  The guards raised the Colors and began to beat drums.  A young boy accepted the leash and led the spaniel away.

The King’s bowels churned.  He’d eaten no breakfast, but instead had taken the Sacrament.  Nothing more.  He did not want to vomit.  Oh, how he wished for a swig of laudanum!  Charles looked around.  He was surrounded by soldiers.  No one would rescue him.  There was no chance of escape.  “I am ready.”

Ah…  But a handful of his supporters were there as well.  He saw them remove their caps to travel bare-headed as he would.  The Bishop, his attendant Thomas Herbert, and a few more…  Such brave men.

Bishop Juxon placed a hand on his shoulder.  “Come, your Majesty.”

Charles watched as his partisans lined up before and after him.  For an instant, he felt protected by his friends.  The foot soldiers formed a barrier around them as they began to walk across the park with Colors flying and drums beating.  The Palace of Whitehall loomed in the distance.  He could see a large crowd gathered around it.

Charles held his head high.  His outward manner was calm, but his mind was a raging storm.  How dare they do this to a King!

The procession left the park and passed crowds of curious onlookers gathering to see the execution.  They took the stairs up into the Gallery, then into the Cabinet Chamber.  There the King continued his Devotion with the Bishop.  To avoid fainting from hunger, he drank a glass of wine and ate a piece of bread at noon.  Another hour passed.

Charles thought that it was cruel to make him wait.  He’d been informed of a delay.  The official executioner refused to do the deed.  There then followed a frantic search to find someone to take his place.  Finally, they’d located a man and his assistant who agreed to do it masked.

The King hoped that he knew what he was doing.  An unskilled ax man could take three blows to sever a head.  Charles swallowed hard.  He wished that it was over.

The story continues in Dark Destiny, book three in the Dark Birthright Saga.

Read about the series:

http://www.DarkBirthrightSaga.com

Medicine and Healing in 17th Century Scotland

Midwife / Healer

Midwife / Healer

Medicine and healing in 17th century Scotland

 

If you lived in Edinburgh and had money or stature, you could have engaged a trained physician. Healers, midwives, and bonesetters were available for common folk.  This trade was passed down from mother to daughter.  These women were skilled in the use of herbs and natural materials such as tar, honey, and garlic to cure disease or treat wounds.

Garlic was known to calm spasms, kill parasites, and fight infections.  Honey healed stubborn wounds.  Alfalfa treated digestive weakness and restored lost vitality.  Burdock was good for skin eruptions; it induced sweating.  Blackberry relieved diarrhea.  Catnip calmed nerves and reduced fever.  Dandelion root and flower stimulated digestion.  Borage was good for rheumatism. An infusion of mugwort could restore a woman’s moon cycle and was good for digestive ailments, frayed nerves, and sleeplessness.

Medicinal herbs were often administered in teas or salves.  To strengthen them, they were dissolved in vinegar, which had healing properties of its own.  Vinegar was thought to improve skin tone, strengthen bones, and balance the four bodily humors.

Healers were called upon to reset bone fractures and adjust dislocated joints.  Sometimes they used comfrey for bone setting. The plant’s roots were dug up in spring and grated to produce a sludge, which was packed around the broken limb.  This hardened to a consistency similar to plaster.  Comfrey leaves, boiled as a tea, brought down swelling and muted pain.

Such was the state of medicine and healing in 17th century Scotland.  In my novels, I tried to make the healing and midwifery scenes authentic, given the time and place and resources available.  My advice to the reader is to NOT try them at home without formal training.

By Jeanne Treat, author of the Dark Birthright Trilogy, a tale of old Scotland

http://www.DarkBirthrightSaga.com

Comfrey

Comfrey

Traditional Fisher Folk Songs of Northeast Scotland

Scottish Fisher Lass

Scottish Fisher Lass

Traditional Fisher Folk Songs of Northeast Scotland

Who would be a fisherman’s wife?

“Who would be a fisherman’s wife?
To go to the mussels with a scrubber and a knife
A dead out fire
And a reveled bed
Away to the mussels in the morning

See the boat come beatin’ in
With three reefs to the foresail in
Not a stitch
Upon his back
Away to the mussels in the morning”

The Bonnie Fisher Lass

“Twas in the month of August one morning by the sea,
When violets and cowslips they so delighted me.
I met a pretty damsel for an empress she might pass,
And my heart was captivated by the bonnie fisher lass.

Her petticoats she wore so short, they came below her knee.
Her handsome leg and ankle, they so delighted me.
Her rosy cheeks her yellow hair, for an empress she might pass,
And wi’ her creel she daily toiled, the bonnie fisher lass.

I stepped up beside her and to her I did say
‘Why are you out so early? Why are you going this way?’
She said ‘I’m going to look for bait, now allow me for to pass.
For our lines we must get ready’ said the bonnie fisher lass.

Her petticoats she wore so short, they came below her knee.
Her handsome leg and ankle, they so delighted me.
Her rosy cheeks her yellow hair, for an empress she might pass,
And wi’ her creel she daily toiled, the bonnie fisher lass.”

The Boatie Rows

“O weel may the boatie row,
and better she may speed;
O weel may the boatie row,
That brings the bairns’ breid.”

The boatie rows, the boatie rows,
The boatie rows full well;
And muckle good before the drag,
The marline and the creel.”

Mairi’s Wedding

Step we gaily on we go,
Heel for heel and toe for toe,
Arm in arm and row and row,
All for Mairi’s wedding.

Over hillways up and down,
Myrtle green and the bracken brown,
Past the sheiling through the town,
Is our darling Mairi.

Red her cheeks as rowans are.
Bright her eyes as any star,
Fairest o them all by far,
Is our darling Mairi.

Plenty herring plenty meal,
Plenty peat tae fill her creel,
Plenty bonnie bairns as weel,
That’s the toast for Mairi.

This medley was compiled by Jeanne Treat, author of the Dark Birthright Saga, a 17th century tale from Scotland, England, and the Colonies.

There are many songs referenced in these books, taken from traditional Scottish folk music.  Most of these compositions are over 100 years old and in the public domain, with one exception. “Mairi’s Wedding” was written by Johnny Bannerman in Gaelic in 1935 for his friend Mairi McNiven, and translated into English a year later by Hugh Roberton.  Some of these songs are still performed today, by artists such as Isla St Clair and The Johnson Girls.

For information on Jeanne’s books, visit her online at http://www.DarkBirthrightSaga.com

 Dark Birthright Saga

To hear these songs, explore these links:  (YouTube videos)

Mairi’s Wedding
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkRQ0SuzSWw

The Bonnie Fisher Lass
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIke7GJIfZE

Who Would Be a Fisherman’s Wife?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CN8kVsZWMVk

The Boatie Rows
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVJ-uLiRgEk

Enjoy!

A snippet from my novel “Dark Lord”

General Alexander Leslie

General Alexander Leslie

A snippet from my novel “Dark Lord” from a chapter named “Seeds of Rebellion”.

August 17th, 1637  – Edinburgh, Scotland

It was hot and dry in the old section of the city, atypical for this time of year.  Dust rose from cobblestone streets, choking the hardiest of inhabitants.

Alexander Leslie hiked a sea bag on his shoulder and gazed at the sign on a tavern.  The establishment had changed hands since he’d been here last, fifteen years ago.  The framed sign featured the innkeeper’s name “J. Adams” above a painted image of a man with a gelding.  This told him that the inn had stables in addition to beds for travelers.   Alexander placed a hand on the stout wooden door and pushed hard.  The portal groaned and opened suddenly into a spacious room with oak plank floors.  His first impression was good.  Light flooded the chamber from high windows.  Rough hewn tables and benches were loosely arranged, occupied by men from a variety of professions.

He felt comfortable here.  There were tradesmen, merchants, sailors, and nobles; drinking and talking in small groups.  As he walked to the back, he caught fragments of conversation about politics, economics, and the recent unrest.  Scruffy dogs lay at their masters’ feet, absently scratching fleas.  The room reeked of ale, tobacco, and unwashed bodies.  Near the fireplace, a buxom girl in apron and cap rebuffed the advances of a toothless patron.

The lass noticed him, her face lighting up with feigned recognition.  “What shall it be, good Sir?  Ale?  Whisky?  Or a taste of something more intimate?”  She gave him a coy smile, indicating that she was available.

Alexander hesitated.  She was bonny enough for a roll in the hay, but he was bound to stay faithful to his wife.  His father, Captain George Leslie, had sired four illegitimate children.   His mother had been described as a wench from Rannoch.  Because of his upbringing, he was unwilling to do that to his children.  “Tankard of ale, lass.  That will do for now.”  He dropped his sea bag on the floor and sat at the nearest table.  As the woman fetched his drink, he thought about his half-siblings.  He had a brother in France, another in Spain, and a sister in this fair city.  Though she died before they met, he’d learned that she had a daughter.  Three years ago, he’d inquired about the lass named Jenny Geddes and learned that she was an indentured servant.  “My niece”, he said, “is no better than a common slave.  I mean to buy her freedom.”

The lass brought a drink to the table and brushed his shoulder with her bare arm.  He mumbled that he was expecting a gentleman and sent her on her way.  At fifty-seven, Alexander was an attractive man.  A life long soldier in the Swedish army, he had a chiseled look and tight body.  He’d earned a reputation as a strategist, been knighted by the Swedish monarch, and had risen to the position of Field Marshal.  Now events in his native country compelled him to return.  Having amassed a fortune abroad, he could supply an army with cannons and muskets.

The door creaked and opened into the tavern, admitting a well dressed nobleman carrying a gold-topped cane.  He stopped and scanned the room, resting his eyes on the seaman. Alexander guessed that this was the man who had summoned him.  The nobleman wore an article of clothing they’d agreed upon; a white silk scarf with gold piping.  He signaled discreetly, inviting him to his table.

John Elphinstone, 2nd Lord Balmerino, carefully removed his scarf and crossed the room.  He placed the garment on the table and waited to be acknowledged.

“Lord Balmerino?”

“Aye.”

“Alexander Leslie, at yer service.”  He took out a brooch and plunked it on the table.  It was a symbol of the Swedish army.  “My calling card, as we agreed…” He smiled and extended his hand.

Lord Balmerino shook it.  “Glad to have ye on our side.” He took a seat opposite him.  “The years have been good to ye.  Ye don’t look a day over forty.”

Alexander made a small sound of agreement.  “Soldiering is a Spartan existence.  Fighting…  Guarding…  Training the troops…  It would be a mistake to go soft.”

The man seemed eager to get down to business.  “I trust that ye got my letters.”

“Aye, as well as those from Sir Thomas Hope.  Does this mean that the nobility will back a rebellion?”

Lord Balmerino nodded.  “Aye.  We’re being slowly stripped of our influence and lands, for the sake of his majesty’s Bishops and clergy.  Most of us will commit men and supplies; some are willing to enlist their sons.  There are a few holdouts in Catholic strongholds, but I think that we can bring them to our side.”

“Good.”  Alexander took a sip and rolled the ale across his tongue.  It was a bitter variety.  He needed specifics.  “I heard about the riot and subsequent arrests.  What are we in for?”

Lord Balmerino signaled to the serving lass, ordering a round of drinks.  He leaned forward and spoke covertly, “After the riot, thousands of men fanned out across the country, spreading the news and carrying petitions.  Within weeks we will have them back so that we can face the Privy Council.  They will have to inform the King.”

Alexander frowned.  “He’s a stubborn man.  What will he do?”

Lord Balmerino was solemn.  “The King is not like his father.  He will never give in to the will of the people.  We’re in for a wild ride, my friend.”

“Can we raise an army by spring?”

“The people are on fire with religious fervor.  The lairds and chieftains should have no trouble gathering troops.  But their weapons are primitive.”

Alexander was tense.  “Leave that to me.  I shall return to Sweden to make arrangements.  Within weeks, boat loads of cannons and muskets will be on their way.”

“Good!”  The man smiled.  “Of course, we will require yer leadership as well.”

“That goes without saying.  It is time for this old soldier to serve his country.”

“Admirable.”  Lord Balmerino plunked a bag of gold on the table and pushed it in his direction.   “Here is a thousand pounds, a small down payment for yer services.”

There was an argument nearby which caused them to take notice.  Angry voices rang out as a drink was spilled.  There didn’t seem to be any immediate danger.  They returned to their conversation.

“On another subject…  Did ye inquire about my niece Jenny Geddes?”

Lord Balmerino smiled.  “She’s a fiery lass; a true asset to the rebellion.  She led the riot inside St Giles.”

Alexander was surprised.  “A woman did this?  Did they throw her in the Tollbooth?”

“Nay.  I’m told that she left the city to marry a man from a northern estate.”

So Jenny had gained her freedom.  “Where is she now?”

“Drake Castle; the jurisdiction of the Duke of Seaford…  She married his right-hand man.”  He looked pensive as he fingered the silver brooch.  “It’s a fortunate thing.  We need an organizer in Aberdeenshire.”

Leslie nodded in agreement.  “What do we know about the Duke?”

“The young man has a reputation.  Months ago, he killed his own father in a sword fight to the death.  They say that he has the Sight.  Some claim that he has supernatural powers.”

Leslie smiled.  “Ah, the rumor mill…  We should all have such things said about us.  It gives us an advantage in battle.  What are his religious leanings?”

“The man’s a Catholic who used to be Protestant, yet seems uncommitted to either.”

“How did that happen?”

“He’s the long lost son of Robert Gordon, who lost track of him before he was born.  Gordon reclaimed him at sixteen from lowly circumstances.”

Leslie sipped his ale.  “What circumstances would those be?”

“It’s said that he was raised by a common fisherman.”

“Did Gordon force him to the Catholic faith?”

“Aye.”

“It could be useful.” Alexander’s interest was piqued.  “He can’t stay neutral in these times.  I will visit my niece when I return from Sweden and assess the situation.”

The woman brought two tankards and smiled at the soldier as she placed them on the table.  She lifted her skirt slightly as she turned and headed for the kitchen.

Lord Balmerino chuckled.  “Ye’re a lucky man to have influence with bonny young women.”

Leslie reddened.  “Never mind that…  The harlot means nothing to me.”  He leaned forward to ensure their privacy.  “The day grows short.  Tell me about the will of the people.”

Lord Balmerino smiled.  “The people are committed to the cause.  What we need is a standard to unite them under.”  He withdrew a drawing from his cape and unfolded it on the table.  “What do ye think?”

Alexander Leslie studied the sketch, which showed a handsome flag bearing the motto ‘For Christ’s Crown’.   He instinctively knew that something was missing.  “Can we change this?”

“To what?”

Leslie was pensive as he traced the flag in the sketch.  He drew upon his years of military experience.  “A standard must portray will and purpose.  With yer permission, I would like it to say ‘For Christ’s Crown and Covenant’.”

“A stroke of brilliance!” the noble remarked as he quickly refolded the paper, “We shall ask them to sign a covenant.”

Author’s note:
Dark Lord is book two in the Dark Birthright Trilogy.
Available in paperback and popular eBook formats.
Read about the series at

http://www.DarkBirthrightSaga.com

James Graham – 1st Marquess of Montrose and 5th Earl of Montrose

James Graham

James Graham

Portrait by William Dobson, some commentary by Carolyn Bruce.

James Graham was hung, quartered and his head impaled on a stake at the Mercat Cross on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, On 21 May in 1650!

On 21 May 1650, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose and 5th Earl of Montrose, Chief of Clan Graham and an able and brilliant soldier, was hanged at Old Market Cross in Edinburgh. When Charles I tried to force upon the Scots a prayer book they regarded as “too Catholic”, the Presbyterian Scots resisted, and James Graham joined them,  partially because of the political power King Charles had vested in Anglican Bishops. Civil war raged for years, with Montrose participating at first against the king, and later, against the Covenanters, as he tried to establish an apolitical clergy. His reputation as a military leader was well earned, and after the Battle of Kilsyth in 1645, the king appointed him Lord Lieutenant and Captain-general of Scotland. When Charles I was defeated in the Battle of Naseby and sent for Montrose to come to his aid, Montrose was defeated at Philiphaugh. Unable to raise another army, he escaped to Norway. Charles I was beheaded, and his son, Charles II, in exile, from where he appointed Montrose Lieutenant of Scotland. As such he returned home to raise an army, but was betrayed; the king had struck a deal with the Covenanters to regain his throne. After his execution “The Great Montrose” was decapitated and his head was set upon “the prick [pike] on the highest stone” of the Old Tolbooth at St. Giles Cathedral. There it remained for 11 years, at which time his body parts were reunited for a hero’s funeral.

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You can read about this event in my novel DARK DESTINY, which is book three of the DARK BIRTHRIGHT TRILOGY.

Here is an excerpt:

Chapter 30 – “Letters” June 29, 1650

Drake Castle

The Duke stood in his study, gazing out the open window.  The day was oppressively hot, with temperatures above ninety.  Because of the weather, he was informally dressed – in breeks, a shirt, and no shoes or socks.  “Whew, it’s hot!”  He mopped his brow with a handkerchief.

Dughall spotted Jamison crossing the courtyard with a pack of letters in his hand.  His spirits lifted.  “Perhaps it’s from Gilbert.”  He left the window and moved his ledgers to the sideboard.  There was a knock on the door.  “Come in.”

Jamison entered.  “My Lord.”  The servant was sweaty from the heat.  “A courier dropped these letters at the gate.”  He placed them on the desk.

“How many are there?”

“Three.”

Dughall motioned for him to take a seat.  He picked up one of the envelopes and saw that it was addressed to Jamison.  “This one is for ye.”

The servant grinned.  “I know.  I want to read it together.  It’s from my contact in Edinburgh.  He’s a member of Parliament.  I asked about Montrose.”

Dughall frowned.  “Ah…  The trial.”

“And execution.”

“We shall see.”  The Duke sliced open the envelope and extracted the letter.  “Shall I read out loud?”

“Aye.”

The author had some schooling.  It was written in fancy handwriting.

Jamison my friend,

You inquired about the Marquess of Montrose.  There is quite a story to tell.  The Parliament condemned him to death in absentia before he arrived here.  James Graham was brought as a prisoner to Edinburgh and without trial was sentenced to death on May 20th.  Archibald Johnston read his fate out loud for all to hear.  He was to be hanged at the Market Cross with a copy of De Rebus hung ‘round his neck.  This book you may remember was Bishop Wishart’s favorable biography of Graham’s life.  But there was more to his humiliation!  He was to swing on the scaffold for three hours, after which time, his head was to be severed and his body quartered.  Unless he repented, he was to be buried in unhallowed ground. 

Graham did not repent.  He insisted that he was a real Covenanter and a loyal subject.  This was met with jeers and shameful gestures of mockery.

I watched the sentence carried out on May 21st at the town market cross.  I must say that Graham accepted his fate with grace and courage.  When allowed final words, he prayed to heaven, “Scatter my ashes!  Strew them in the air, Lord, since thou knowest where all these atoms are.”

The hanging was then carried out.  As prescribed, his body hung for three hours, was decapitated, and quartered.  The head was displayed on a pike at the Tollbooth Prison, while the parts were dispersed for display in Glasgow, Perth, Stirling, and Aberdeen.      

I suspect that you will approve of this action, given your experience with the man.  But it was a disgraceful end for a Lord of the realm.  I fear that we have set a bad precedent.  After his death, some of us convinced Parliament to bury his body parts in hallowed ground.  They were going to dump them in a common grave on Burgh Muir.

In closing, we must be careful what we wish for!  Someday, it could apply to us.  I hope that this satisfies your curiosity.  Stay safe, my friend.  Give my regards to Lord Drake and the Lady of the castle.

 Sincerely – John H.

The Duke shuddered.  “He’s right.  That was a disgraceful way for a lord to die.”

Jamison grunted.  “Agreed.”

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Our Sketch of Lord Montrose

Our Sketch of Lord Montrose

You can read about the trilogy at:

http://www.DarkBirthrightSaga.com