"O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to heaven is sent;
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content"
Robbie Burns

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fiction FRIDAY... early!

On my recent trip to Seattle to visit family and friends I had the pleasure of attending the EMERALD CITY RWA CONFERENCE held in Bellevue, Washington. This wasn’t my first conference with romance writers but my first that had such a large number of published authors ( not including the national RWA conference). I have often wondered why so many authors live in the PNW but I think it has to do with so many rainy days that keep one in at their desk writing. Of course it could also be the stunning scenery and the fact that Washington State has no state income tax.

At each of the meals I made it a point to sit at a table where I knew no one other than maybe by name for the books they write. Though being on two writers loops Hearts Through History and Celtic Hearts I was hoping to finally put faces with names. On Sunday our lunch was the final event for us all to come together and I sat at a table with many of the local authors and thoroughly enjoyed listening to the antics of Publishers Weekly and friend BARBARA VEY. I knew some of the names at our table (GERRI RUSSELL who writes great historicals) and when I chatted with the young woman who sat next to me she got excited when she read my nametag and said she loved my posts on the history links and on Scotland on one of the writing lists we are both members of. After gushing over other authors all weekend it was a new feeling to have some gush over something I did. AMANDA FORESTER and I had a lovely chat over lunch and I wish I had met her earlier in the conference so we could talk more about what she is planning in the future. She even graciously carried my winning basket back to my room for me. As a debut author I wanted to feature her this week…

Amanda writes medieval Scottish tales and her debut book was published this past March called THE HIGHLANDER'S SWORD, set in the Highlands of Scotland in 14th century. The following is one of the book trailers for this book which I know will please many of you who love a feisty Scottish lass who levels a braw Hieland warrior.

Amanda’s next book THE HIGHLAND’S HEART debuts next spring so put it on you shopping list now.

As one does at such a conference I people watch and while waiting to get into a class I had the pleasure of chatting with author JACKIE IVIE while she waited to teach her class “Researching Historicals and Bringing Them to Life”. Jackie is one of the twenty authors I mentioned last Friday who will be part of the Mammoth Book of Scottish Romances coming out in January. But Jackie is no stranger to writing Scottish romances, her books include: TENDER IS THE KNIGHT, A KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS- LADY OF THE KNIGHT, ONCE UPON A KNIGHT, A KNIGHT WELL SPENT, HEAT OF THE KNIGHT and her latest A KNIGHT IN WHITE SATIN. These books all set in Scotland are set in different time-periods from Medievals to 17th century.

I finally was able to get a listing ( thanks to Terri Brisbin) of the twenty authors who will be part of that Scottish romance anthology and I want to take the next couple of Fridays to feature them. Here are some more of the authors who will be featured:

KIMBERLY KILLION was a Rita finalist for First Best Book with her debut book... HER ONE DESIRE in 2009, which is set in London and the Borders of Scotland and her latest is THE HIGHLAND DRAGON set in the highlands. Her story in the MBO Scottish Romances is HIS MAGICK TOUCH a story set on the island of Barra in the 16th century. An excerpt of this story can be found here.

CONNIE BROCKWAY who writes both historical and contemporary romances is a 2 time RITA winner and icon of the historical romance. Her Scottish romances can be found in the McClairen Isles trilogy: THE PASSIONATE ONE, THE RECKLESS ONE and THE RAVISHING ONE. Her Rose Trilogy is also set in Scotland or with Scottish heroes: MY PLEASURE, MY SUDUCTION and MY SURRENDER. Other Scottish stores include SO ENCHANTING She has also has a Scottish tale in the anthology MY SCOTTISH SUMMER – “Lassie Go Home” – contemporary set in Scotland.

And finally an author new to me is paranormal writer DONNA GRANT who has two series of books set in Scotland or with Scottish heroes: The Druids Glen trilogy (ebooks) HIGHLAND MIST, HIGHLAND NIGHTS and HIGHLAND DAWN. Her current series is the “Swords” series and includes: DANGEROUS HIGHLANDER, FORBIDDEN HIGHLANDER and WICKED HIGHLANDER


Though there are few cases of women in the late medieval and early modern period who actually took up arms and fought in the wars of Scotland and later Great Britian, there were women who played an important part in its culture of war. For Bonnie Prince Charles Stuart, the son of the Old Pretender, he had an air of charisma that attracted loyal Jacobite women. Though we all know of the role that Flora Macdonald played in the escape of the young Prince after the Battle of Culloden, there were many women who played far more important roles in the Jacobite cause. The women below are but a few of the remarkable women who used their wits and their clan's brawn for the Jacobite cause.

*****don't read this as only a Scottish cause and it would be equally wrong to think of this year of uprisings as one of a battle of Lowlander vs Highlander war or a Scottish vs English war . It was a Jacobite (Stuart) army which had supporters from the Highlands/islands as well as the Lowlands and even into northern England. And the Royal army also had many loyal Scots who fought on their side as well including Lowlanders, as well as a number of Highland clans*******

Women of the ‘45

Jenny Cameron of Glendessary raised an army of 300 men of her clan at a time that really boosted the Prince’s morale. But to pro-government propagandists they portrayed her as the Prince’s mistress. What is interesting is even though Prince Charlie realized he needed the women’s support which was great for fundraising, he was very conservative and expect the women to remain in their homes and not take on the roles of men. He sounded more Hanoverian in the thought, believing a woman’s place was in the home. He probably would have chastised his wife if she had acted as freely as many of the following women and yet his successes were due in large part to the role of the women calling out their clans, or in some cases shaming them to come out to the Stuart cause.

Anne Farquharson of Invercauld. Anne was only 20 years old and was married to Angus Mackintosh who was the Chief of Clan Chatten and the Mackinntosh. Anne, Lady Moy was a beautiful young woman and was a staunch Jacobite and though she was almost 20years younger than Angus it was a love match. Like many Lairds of clans and families, Angus sat on the fence for a while and then chose the crown’s side where he served as a commander of a Black Watch unit whose job it was to serve the crown by repressing the unrest in the Highlands. But Anne as much as she loved him, loved the Jacobite cause more and went behind his back by raising over 300 of Mackintosh men for the Prince and asked her husband’s cousin a Macgillvary to command the group. She was a victim of the Crown’s propaganda machine when she was pegged as an Amazon. Though despite the political cartoons of the day, she never road with the clan into battle. She even endured slurs claiming she and the cousin were lovers. Using her wit and few resources she routed the Crown’s troops who were looking for the Prince near Moy, with some clever plans and only four men.

She gained the nickname of Colonel Anne because she rode at the head of the Clan’s men when she took them to the Prince and because after the Battle of Prestonpans when her husband was captured with his Black Watch group, they were turned over to Anne. When she welcomed him as Captain Mackintosh and he replied addressing her as Colonel Anne. Though she did go behind his back, it didn’t seem to hurt their relationship though she and her mother in law, also a Jacobite supporter, spent some time in jail in Inverness after the battle at Culloden. However, when Butcher Cumberland held a ball in London to support the victory at Culloden, Anne went with Angus and even danced a dance with Cumberland in support of the Hanoverian victory but only he he would dance with her to a Jacobite tune. She never had any children, and when her husband died in 1770 she moved to Leith where she died at age 61. Her grave site can no longer be found in Leith.

Margaret Ogilvy- was a young Lowlander from Dumfries and was only 20 years old at the time of the uprising. She was married to David Ogilvy. They both were avowed Jacobites. When David and his regiment of men from Forfar rode to join the Princes army Margaret was with him. When he took his vow of allegiance to the Prince, Margaret was at his side.

Isabel Haldane- Was another wife whose husband was sitting on the fence. But Isabel shamed him into making the decision when she took off her apron and handed it to him and said, “…if you are not willing to be commander of the Appin men (Stewart), stay at home and take care of the house and I will go and command them myself” Her husband, Charles Stewart, collected 300 men and joined the Prince’s army. Sounds like he was more afraid of his wife than the Crown’s army.

Some of the women were even bullies when they tried to get their clan to join the cause, making threats and following through just like the Crown did in the Highland Clearances:

Charlotte Robertson, Lady Lude- She was the daughter of a Lady Nairne who was a Jacobite supporter in uprising of 1715. She was rather flighty and was often in the company of the Prince’s entourage. She gave hospitality in her own home as well as those vacated by the pro-crown forces. But she was also known to bully and threaten her own tenants to join the cause or she would burn them out and often did. Then when they left she would pursue them and say they could save themselves by paying to stay alive. At one point it is believed she e raised over 1000 men for the cause. But after Culloden she was captured by the Crown troops and the very people she had bullied and threatened now gave evidence against her but her rank kept her from harm unlike the men prisoners.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


On a recent trip home from Seattle I watched ROBIN HOOD and marveled at Cate Blanchet in armour going to war again, seems like she didn't have enough from her two Elizabeth movies. But how realistic would that have been having a woman fight alongside men in the medieval period? Well we know the early Celt women were warriors and maybe that spirt if not actual participation in warfare continued with the medieval women of Scotland. We know that many a nobleman would have to leave his castle or tower house to go off an fight for his king. And though he left contingents of knights and men at arms to protect the castle the person in charge was often his mother or his wife. One such woman in the medieval period was Agnes of Dunbar (Black Agnes) and defend their castle they did...

" She kept a stir in tower and trench,

That brawling, boisterous Scottish wench,

Came I early, came I late,

I found Agnes at the gate."

--- From a ballad attributed to the Earl of Salisbury

Lady Agnes was the daughter of Isabel Stewart and Sir Thomas Randolph and who married Patrick Dunbar, the Earl of Dunbar/March. His castle Dunbar Castle in East Lothian was the strategic holding for both the Scots and the English during the War of Scottish Independence and after. After the battle of Bannockburn when Bruce's army routed the army of Edward II, Patrick Dunbar gave sanctuary to Edward at Dunbar Castle before he could be whisked away to England. Later, Bruce forgave Patrick Dunbar making him guardian of Berwick Castle in 1322. Dunbar tore down his own castle after trying to defend both castles from the English. But later Edward III forced Dunbar to rebuild at his own expense to house English but that changed n 1338 when Dunbar, who was now entrenched in the Scottish cause got it back.

In early 1338, while Patrick was elsewhere with the Scottish Cause his wife "Black" Agnes was left to defend the castle against the English Earl of Salisbury. Thinking that it was easy pickings with a woman in charge he quickly learned that Agnes was no ordinary woman. When she refused to surrender, he catapulted the castle with huge rocks and projectiles, but Agnes rallied her women and signaled their refusal to surrender by wearing their best clothing meeting on the ramparts to dust away the mess, a suitable insult with dainty lace hankies.

Next Salisbury brings in a battering ram, but Agnes was ready and dropped one of the huge rocks he had catapulted into the castle bailey and smashed it to bits. Salisbury was now really getting frustrated by the obvious insults "Black Agnes" was slinging his way. Thinking to get inside he tried to bribe an inhabitant but was thwarted again. Through all these episodes she thwarted him with verbal insults.

"Of Scotland's King I haud my house,
He pays me meat and fee,
And I will keep my gude auld house,
While my house will keep me

Finally after the siege had gone for weeks he had her brother, Sir John Randolph, the Earl of Moray who was a prisoner of the English brought to the castle. Sir John was forced to call out to his sister, that if she didn't surrender he would be killed. Agnes in bold Scottish determination replied:"...if he is killed he has no heirs, so his land will become mine." Not quite the answer Salisbury expected from a loving sister. Randolph was returned to prison and the siege continued.

What Salisbury was not aware of was that despite the fact he had the castle surrounded on all sides but the water, in the dead of night the townsfolk from nearby villages would row over supplies for those trapped in the siege. This water entrance turned the tide for the siege when Scottish hero Alexander Ramsay heard of Agnes's plight and with his 40 Scottish troops entered the castle through the water entrance to rally those inside. Five months after the start of the siege, Ramsay and his troops surprised the English by leaving the castle through the land gate and attacked them. The English scattered, and on June 10, 1338 Salisbury signed a truce and left the castle to Black Agnes

The mother of two sons, Agnes died in 1369, and her husband died a few months after her. Oddly enough, the fates were with her when in 1347 her brother John died with no heirs, so she inherited his wealth/lands and title. She was called Black Agnes as she had a dark complexion.