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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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.

******

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

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

The Book of Deer – illuminated manuscript from Scotland

The Book of Deer

The Book of Deer

Did you know that Scotland has an illuminated manuscript?
The Book of Deer is a tenth century illuminated manuscript from North East Scotland. As the only pre-Norman manuscript from this area known as “former Pictland” it provides us with a unique insight into the early church, culture and society of this period. Amid the Latin text and the Celtic illuminations there can be found the oldest pieces of Gaelic writing to have survived from early Medieval Scotland.
The Book of Deer:

  • is illuminated in a style related to that used in the books of Dimma and Durrow.
  • by 1000 it was in the possession of the Monastery of Deer, a sixth century foundation at Old Deer in Aberdeenshire associated with Columba and his disciple Drostan.
  • in the twelfth century the Monks of Deer used the blank spaces and the margins in the book to record details of grants of land to the Monastery and its foundation legend. These “notitiae” are the earliest continuous examples of written Scots Gaelic.

The book’s importance in Scottish Literary History:

The Book of Deer is one of Scotland’s most important manuscripts. It is a small (154mm x 107mm) Gospel Book, now housed in Cambridge University Library. Before c. 1100 it was in the possession of the early Pictish monastery at Old Deer in north-east Aberdeenshire. This monastery has otherwise left no trace of its existence. A Cistercian Abbey was founded nearby in 1219. The Book of Deer came into the ownership of Cambridge University Library in 1715, when the library of the Bishop of Ely and Norwich was presented to the former by George I. Before that, the Book of Deer may have been in the possession of Dr Gale, High master of St Paul’s School (1672-97). The stages by which it moved from the North East of Scotland to the South of England are by no means clear. Even Cambridge University Library was unaware of its significance until it was discovered in 1860 by Henry Bradshaw, the librarian at that time.
In Dark Lord and Dark Destiny,  I feature the monks of the Abbey of Deer and a sacred book they are protecting.  This is the book I had in mind.  When I was in Scotland,  a historian told me about this book and introduced me to the Book of Deer project, dedicated to educating people about the manuscript and returning the book to Scotland.  This same historian took us on a private tour of the ruins of the Abbey and gave me a research book that described the original layout.  Here are some pictures from our tour:
You can view a video tour of the Abbey of Deer at:
You can read about the Dark Birthright trilogy at:
Some pictures and commentary from http://bookofdeer.co.uk/
Please visit and support the Book of Deer project.

St Giles Cathedral – Edinburgh, Scotland

St Giles Cathedral

St Giles Cathedral

Photograph © Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

St Giles’ Cathedral, on High Street, is the historic City Church of Edinburgh. With its famed crown spire it stands on the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.  Also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, it is the Mother Church of Presbyterianism and contains the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle.

This cathedral is prominently featured in my novel DARK LORD, book two of the Dark Birthright trilogy.  (Just a bit of background, Dughall Gordon is the Duke.)

Here is an excerpt from a chapter named “Ominous News“:

The Duke stood and replaced the book in a glass-faced case and then gazed out the window.  Several of his men were away on missions and were expected to return soon.  His spirits brightened.  In the courtyard, he saw Jamison dismount his steed and hand the reins to a stable boy.  The servant helped an unfamiliar woman off a red mare and sent her in the direction of the bakehouse.  Minutes passed as the man traversed the square and entered the castle.  Jamison had been sent to Edinburgh to investigate rumors of religious unrest.  The King was imposing a new prayer book on his Protestant subjects, insisting that it be read in the capital.

The Duke was aware of the gravity of the situation.  Weeks ago, Robert MacNeil paid them a visit, sailing the Bonnie Fay into the harbor.  What he’d thought would be a cordial reunion with his uncle from Whinnyfold turned into an unpleasant confrontation.  Furious at the prospect of religious persecution, Robert expected Alex to accompany him to Edinburgh.  Dughall protested, but stopped short of forbidding his father from leaving.  Worse yet, Robert had been angry that he’d become a Catholic.

The Duke sighed.  Now Alex was gone on a potentially dangerous mission.  Sailing to Edinburgh was risky in a fourteen foot scaffie, not to mention the trouble they might get into.  Perhaps Jamison had news of him.  As he waited, Dughall examined a world globe, tracing the countries of Scotland and England.  He wondered how long the border would be accurate, given the rumors.  There was a knock on the door and his servant entered.  His clothes were musty and his beard was unkempt.

Dughall sensed his concern.  He sat at his desk and motioned for the man to join him.  “Ye’ve been gone a long time.”

Jamison grunted.  “Aye, my Lord.”  He took a seat and cleared his throat.  “Forgive my tardiness.  I have much to tell ye.”

The young Lord was glad to see him, but reserved his welcome for later.  These were strange times when business and politics came before friendship.  “What did ye find?”

Jamison scowled.  “Edinburgh is in an uproar!  I witnessed riots, a lynching, and open defiance of the King’s edict.  It looked like madness, but I can hardly blame them.”

The servant had his attention.  “Tell me about it to the smallest detail.”

Jamison seemed tense.  “When I arrived in the city, I learned that the liturgy book was to be read in churches on Sunday.  The people were outraged and from what I saw, ministers were rousing the crowds.”

“Which ministers?”

Jamison stroked his scraggly beard.  “Henderson and Dickson…  They claimed to have consulted Sir Thomas Hope and Lord Balmerino to get approval for their plans.”

The Duke knew that this meant trouble.  “Do we know this Lord Balmerino?”

Jamison nodded.  “He was a friend of yer Grandfather.  We received a letter from him when ye became Duke.”

Dughall remembered dozens of letters, but he’d been too grief-stricken to pay attention.  “What did the ministers say?”

Jamison took a flyer out of his pocket and leaned forward in his chair.  “These pamphlets were scattered about the city.”  He began to read with passion. “Beware of the new and strange leaven of man’s inventions, against the word of God and the beliefs of the Kirk!  The idolatry of kneeling at the moment of Communion, crossing in baptism, and the obeying of men’s holy days shall not prevail!”

“Hmmphh…”

“The new fatherless Service-Book is full of gross heresy, popish and superstitious, without warrant from Christ our savior!  Obey not these bastard canons that come from the Antichrist’s foul womb…”

Dughall took a sharp breath.  It was a serious matter indeed, if they were invoking the Antichrist.  “What happened when the book was read?”

Jamison narrowed his eyes.  “That Sunday, I stood in the back of St Giles, a grand cathedral with four massive pillars.  I’ve never in my life seen such a church.  By dawn, it was so packed that there was no way to get a seat.  Serving women sat on three-legged stools, keeping places for their mistresses.  I spoke with one, a lass named Jenny Geddes, who was determined to stop the blasphemy.  Never before have I seen a woman with such fire in her belly.”  He reddened slightly.  “When the time for services came, members of the King’s Privy Council arrived to show support for the book.  They brought armed guards.”

“To the church?”

The servant frowned.  “Aye.”

“Go on…”

“Dean Hanna appeared carrying the leather-bound book and entered the grand pulpit.  As he started to read the new service, the crowd protested, stamped their feet, and hissed to drown him out.  It might have stopped there but for Jenny Geddes.  She said, ‘Villain!  Dost thou say mass at my ear?’”

“What happened?”

“Jenny threw her stool, narrowly missing his head.  Others joined in, tossing rotten cabbages.”

“Did they injure the man?”

“Only his pride…  Then the Bishop of Edinburgh entered the pulpit.  He tried to quiet the crowd, but as he spoke things got worse.”

Dughall’s head ached.  “How could they get worse?”

“They called him a beast, a false Christian wolf!  The offspring of a devil and a witch…”  Jamison coughed into his fist.  “Pardon the words, my Lord.  They’re not mine.  Some said that it was better that he be hanged as a thief than live to be such a pest to God’s church.”

“Strong words, indeed.”

Jamison snorted.  “I wish it had stopped at words…  Guards forced the parishioners into the streets, where they rioted and threw stones at the cathedral’s windows.”

“They defaced a house of God?”

“Aye.  When the Bishop left, a mob pursued his carriage, hurling stones and curses.  They say that he shit himself.”  The servant’s expression darkened.  “Edinburgh is up in arms.  Nearly a hundred were arrested and thrown in the Tollbooth.”

Dughall’s stomach turned.  “Was my father there?”

“Alex?”

“Aye.”

“Nay.  Why did he go?”

The young Lord gritted his teeth.  “It’s a long story.  My uncle insisted that he accompany him to the reading.”

Jamison frowned.  “He wasn’t at St Giles on Sunday.  Perhaps he was at Greyfriar’s.  Shall I go back for him?”

Dughall decided to trust his sight.  “Nay.  Let’s wait a week to see if he returns.  So, my friend…  What’s yer assessment of the situation?”

“The people are on fire with religious fervor.  It won’t be long before it reaches the Highlands.”

Dughall reflected on this dangerous situation.  Most of his subjects were Catholic, but more than three hundred were Protestant, including his father and mother.  Given Alex’s reaction, he wondered how it would affect them.  Religious fervor was one thing, but acts of lawlessness would have to be punished.  His main concern was about what the King would do.  He had a reputation for stubbornness and cruelty.  “We’re a long way from Edinburgh.  The unrest may not travel this far.”

Jamison paled.  “My Lord.  I am afraid that I have rendered that impossible.”

Dughall’s stomach knotted.  “How so?”

“After the riot, I sought out Jenny Geddes to inquire about the will of the people.  We spent a week together visiting her contacts and discussing the rebellion.  We ate, drank, and slept together.  After that I married her.”

This was too much to bear.  “What!?  Ye brought her here?”  He recalled the lass in the courtyard.

Jamison hung his head.  “Forgive me, my Lord.  Ye did encourage me to marry.”

“Aye, but to bring a rabble rouser in our midst…”

“I can control her.”

Dughall was unsure about that.  The women in his life were not easily controlled…

*****

Read more in DARK LORD

http://www.DarkBirthrightSaga.com

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Jenny Geddes - illustration from Dark Lord

Jenny Geddes – illustration from Dark Lord

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More about St Giles Cathedral

http://www.stgilescathedral.org.uk/

Dunnottar Castle – Scotland – a brief history

Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle

Picture and historical commentary courtesy of Davy Tolmie

Dunnottar Castle is a venue in my book DARK LORD – where it is the scene of a battle between Covenanters and Royalists.

Here is a bit of history from another perspective:

Dunnottar Castle was the home of the Earls Marischal of Scotland, once one of the most powerful families in the land. The Earl Marischal oversaw all ceremonial activities in the Scottish Court, including the coronations. He was also responsible for the security of the Scottish Crown Jewels, known as the ‘Honours of Scotland’. The story of how a small garrison in Dunnottar Castle saved the Honours of Scotland from certain destruction is one of the most captivating in Scottish history.

Charles I, King of both Scotland and England, was executed in 1649 by Oliver Cromwell. The following year his son (later Charles II) arrived in north east Scotland in a bid to retake the two kingdoms and on his journey south he stayed overnight at Dunnottar Castle. However, in England, Oliver Cromwell was so enraged at the young King’s arrival he invaded Scotland. In some haste therefore, Charles II was crowned at Scone, but the crown and the other coronation regalia could not be returned to Edinburgh Castle which had now been taken by Cromwell’s army. The English crown jewels had already been destroyed by Cromwell and the Honours of Scotland, the most potent remaining icon of the monarchy, were next on his list. His army was fast advancing on Scone and the King ordered the Earl Marischal to secure the Honours and many of his personal papers at Dunnottar Castle.It was not long before Dunnottar was under siege and a scratch garrison of 70 men held out for eight months against the invading forces. Its unique position made the Castle impregnable to infantry attack, but when the heavy cannons finally arrived and began to raze the major buildings, the situation became untenable. Before surrender was contemplated, however, the King’s papers were taken through the besieging forces by a brave young lady acquaintance of the Governor who secured them around her waist. The crown, sceptre and sword meanwhile, had been lowered over the seaward side of the Castle and received by a serving woman, there on pretence of gathering seaweed.

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You can read about Dunnottar Castle in the 1600’s in the Dark Birthright Trilogy:

http://www.DarkBirthrightSaga.com