02 December 2021

Remembering

 


So very hard to believe she passed away this night thirty-four years ago.

My mother was a special person, so full of life, so full of sadness.
And I miss her.

03 November 2021

The ideal Christmas gift for that Romance lover




Turning back to the man on the ground, she once again had to wipe the gathering flakes from his face.  She attempted to tug him to a sitting position, thinking she could wrap her mantle around them both, and lend him what little body heat she still had.  When she went to lift him, she realized he still had his broadsword lashed crosswise over his back.  Finding the strap’s buckle on the center of his chest, she released it.

Then, froze as the howl came. 

It was close by.  The man groaned as she urgently rolled his dead weight, enough to drag the sword out from under him, and then dropped the leather sheath as she freed the blade.  Holding the sword in her right hand, she used her left to release the clasp of her mantle.  She would need her arms free to swing the sword.  Keeping her eyes fixed upon the trees, she dragged her woolen cape over the man’s unmoving body.

The deep growl sent a chill to her marrow as the threat of the snowstorm had failed to do.  Low tree limbs rustled and then parted as the set of glowing yellow eyes peeked through the wintry foliage.

Swallowing hard, Skena brought the sword up, preparing to swing, and praying she had strength enough to wield the mighty sword true.


Skena stood trembling, from the cold, aye, but more so from dread.  With the specter of famine looming across the land, she feared wolves would soon be a threat they would face.  Foolishly, she had hoped the menace would not come this early in the season.  Swallowing to moisten the dryness in her mouth, she watched the feral eyes narrow on her, judging how much a threat she presented holding the sword.  Plainly, she posed nary a concern to the creature.  Shoulders lowered, teeth bared, he edged forward, a low growl of intent rising deep in his throat.  The animal scented her fear.  Her weakness only emboldened him. 

Keeping her attention on the black wolf, her eyes quickly scanned to see if there were others coming up behind him or circling around.  Where you found one, usually there lurked a small pack.  Her luck holding, thus far no other pairs of bright eyes appeared; no dark forms skulked through the unmoving undergrowth around the dense pine trees. 

“Oh, please let him be a lone wolf,” she offered her wish to the Auld Ones, before whispering dark words to weave a Charm of Protection, drawing upon what little powers she possessed to sustain her through this ordeal.

 Not a small woman, her Ogilvie blood showed in her tall body and strong bones.  Even so, to hold the heavy broadsword—which took years for a man to master—was tiring.  Her arms vibrated; tremors racked her muscles.  A mix of terror and cold.  The winter storm slowly leached all the strength from her body.  She fought against the quaking, still the sword wobbled in her grip.

Baring his fangs, the wolf crept slowly forward, more daring with each step.  Skena had trouble keeping her vision clear.  Falling flakes and those kicked up by the spindrift continued to stick to her long lashes, adding moisture to the tears she valiantly labored to hold at bay.  It was vital to see the wolf when he leapt, in order to time her swing.  She sucked in a hard breath of terror.  The creature was so much bigger than she expected!


“Off with you, evil foal-chû.  You shall no’ be making a meal of this warrior or me.”  She spoke false courage, hoping the sound of her voice might frighten him into backing off.  Instead, his body coiled, preparing to spring.

So intent upon the wolf, Skena hopped slightly when long arms enclosed about her.  Startled and yet unwilling to take her eyes off the black creature, it was several heartbeats before she comprehended the stranger had awakened and was on his feet.  Suddenly, in his strong embrace she was not so scared.

“Be still, my lady.  I lend my strength to your swing.”  The warrior’s cold hands closed over hers.  He leaned against her back; his powerful muscles caused her shaking to lessen.

Skena had little chance for the details of his nearness to filter through her thoughts, for with a feral snarl the wolf leapt at them.  Frozen in terror, she was unable to move, yet she felt the warrior wielding the sword.  Bared teeth snapped close to her throat.  She cried out and then flinched when the great blade caught the beast in the neck.  Blood splattered across her clothing and her face.  Its heat shocked her.  Numb with the horror, she stared at the animal writhing on the ground.  In the gathering darkness, the pooling blood oddly appeared black upon the pristine snow.  The coppery smell set her stomach to roiling; revolted, she choked back rising nausea.  Her grip slackened about the hilt.  

            The knight’s fingers closed tighter around hers.  “Nay, my lady, never leave a wounded animal alive...sometimes, not even a man.  ’Tis when they are most dangerous.  They risk all for they have naught to lose.” 


 

One Snowy Knight, Dragons of Challon, Book 3


Prairie Rose Publications

#DragonsofChallon #ScottishRomance #MedievalRomance  #Historical Romance



01 November 2021

RIP sweet Loki

 




RIP

Loki

He came to me in 2013.  A stray someone tossed away.  My friend Candy had been feeding him, but she broke her back in November of that year, so I took over putting food out for him.  One night, I heard the start of a cat fight outside.  He was cowering against the bottom of the stairs, while another orange kitty was going to beat on him to get the food.  I told him to come to me and I would protect him.  He hesitate a moment, and then dashed to me and hid behind my legs.  I have have dozens of kitties in my lifetime, but never one that came running to me at the start of the fight.

The next day, he came down the hill in 6 inches of snow to get food.  I had just lost my kitty Algie.  So as I watched Loki make his way down the steep hill, I thought I could save him -- if he would let me.  He came up on the porch and I quickly got Candy's pet carrier.  I asked him if I could pick him up and he let me.  He wasn't happy about the carrier, even less about being take in the truck to my house.  But he just about cried when he saw I was taking him to a bedroom.  Clearly, he had been an indoor kitty.  He knew what a bed and little box was.  I slept in the spare room wth him for a couple nights to get him used to being in a new house.

I never regretted making him a part of my family.  He never did anything wrong, no clawing, spraying, or scratching etc.  He was just so happy to have a warm, safe home.  He was such a gentle kitty.  And he loved me for saving him.

He was with me for just shy of eight years.  I had hoped to have him longer.
The last two and half years have been rough for me, with losing my husband and then my surgery on my jaw.  He slept beside me and would reach out during the night, and put a paw on me, like "It's okay, you're not alone.  Everything is going to be fine."

Tonight, that ghostly paw isn't there to reassure me.  And I miss his so much.





03 October 2021

Links to my articles on the Women of Bruce and Dunbar

Coming in 2022
Women of Bruce - Part 7 - Daughters of Robert the Bruce - Marjorie Bruce Stewart, Elizabeth de Brus Oliphant of Gask, Margaret de Brus of the Glen, Christian de Brus of Carrick, Maud de Brus de Issac, Margaret de Brus Countess of Sutherland, 


Coming 2022
Women of Bruce Part 7 and 8
The Sisters of Robert the Bruce: Maud and Marjorie


Coming in January 2022
Women of Bruce - Part 6 -  The Oft Forgotten Sisters of Robert the Bruce--Mary



Wyntoun's War of the Rough Wooing of my 16th Great Grandmother (and cousin to Robert the Bruce)


Women of Bruce - Part 5 - Sisters of Robert the Bruce--A Tale of Two Isabels



Women of Bruce - Part 4 - Sisters of Robert the Bruce--Christian


Women of Bruce - Part 3 - The Wives of Robert the Bruce


Women of Bruce - Part 2 - Isabel Macduff, countess of Buchan, a woman who crowned a king




A Tale of Two Women and One Castle - The Ladies of Dunbar - Part Two - Agnes Randolph



A Tale of Two Women and One Castle - The Ladies of Dunbar - Part One - Marjorie Comyn


Countess Mabel Montgomerie -- a woman ahead of her times, or a monster in men's eyes



(Just a note -- images are stock images or digitally created images, not meant to be taken as real images of the Bruce women...lol.  Actor portrayed, you might say)

11 September 2021

Anniversary of the Battle of Stirling Bridge

 

11 September 1297: Andrew de Moray and William Wallace comprehensively defeat the English army at The Battle of Stirling Bridge. Moray subsequently dies of wounds suffered during the battle, and the lion's share of the victory goes to Wallace instead of Moray. History might look very different had Moray lived. The Bishop of St Andrews, the most powerful seat in Scotland, William Lamberton, along with Bishop Robert Wishart, were eyeing putting Moray on the throne of Scotland, since he was of Auld Scot blood and could rally the Highland nobles to the cause, while the Bruces were squarely backing Edward Longshanks at this point.







Remembering on 9 11

 




10 September 2021

Wyntoun's War or the "Rough Wooing" of my 19th Great Grandmother

I’m taking a small break this month from the Bruce sisters.  I promise to finish up next month with Maud, Margaret and Mary de Brus.  Due to two new roofs and other demanding needs, I just wasn't able to devote the time I need for the remaining trio.  Instead, I will speak of some Bruce relations, for they are of the blood, cousins.  But, more importantly, this tale is about love, romance, and a lovers dash to Edinburgh Castle—that may or may not have been a kidnapping—and the man and woman who were my 19th great-grandparents.


Wyntoun's War 
or the Rough Wooing of my 19th Great-Grandmother.

At the start of 1343, Lady Margaret de Seton was suddenly thrust into the role of heiress to her father, Lord Alexander de Seton, governor of Berwick Castle.  The Setons were longtime supporters of Clan Bruce, and even married into it.  Alexander was the brother of Sir Christopher Seton, who wed Christian de Brus (sister to Robert the Bruce).  You might recall from my previous article about this Bruce sister that Christopher was Christian’s second husband, and he gave his life defending the Bruce women when they were trying to flee the English in 1306.  Over the decades, the Setons were recognized for their loyalty and rewarded by Bruce, and they continued to support his son David II at the cost of their lives.

Margaret de Seton, born around 1330, was Alexander’s last child and only daughter.  She became heiress to her father’s vast wealth at a young age, and not a position she had anticipated inheriting.  She had four valiant warriors for older brothers—Alexander, John, William and Thomas.  If one fell, another would assume the titles and lands rightfully his.  Some historians dismissively list her as Alexander Seton’s granddaughter, and instead, put her as the daughter of her brother, Alexander.  A couple try to fix her as daughter of John, another brother, (likely because she became heiress after John’s death).  These careless mix-ups really cause snarls, which few show interest in fixing.  Both Alexandersfather and son—were at Berwick Castle at the time of the siege of 1332-3, so for starters, they tend to blur the two Alexanders into one person, which they are not.  The father outlived the son by over a decade.  Margaret clearly was the daughter of Alexander the elder and Christian le Chenyne (granddaughter of Isabella Macduff, countess of Buchan—the woman who crowned Bruce king).  However, the confusion doesn’t end there.  Her mother’s name was Christian, and her uncle Christopher married Christian de Brus, thus many are now listing Christopher and Bruce’s sister as her parents, which they are not.  Christopher died in 1306, long before Margaret came along.

In the late summer of 1332, Alexander—the father—was governor of Berwick Castle, when a siege was laid.  His defense of the fortress cost him three of his sons. Margaret’s brothers died valiantly in the continued struggle against Edward Balliol and Edward III.  Alexander, was killed in the Battle of Kinghorn, where the son of John Balliol was trying to land in Scotland so he might claim the Scottish crown for himself.  William also died in the same fight, drowned in repulsing the landing.  A third brother, Thomas, was captured.  Seton called for a truce, which was granted, but only on condition that he surrender if not relieved by the Scots before the 11th of July.  They were relieved by riders, men under Sir William Keith, Sir Alexander Gray and Sir William Prenderguest. Only Edward III of England said the riders came from the English side of the border, not Scottish, so the castle was not “relieved from Scotland” and thus he proceeded to execute Thomas and ten other men held prisoner.  Alexander and his wife were forced to watch as Thomas was hanged, drawn and quartered before the gates of the town.  Keith took command of the town from Alexander (small wonder), and negotiated a second truce which held—an unconditional surrender to the English, but it allowed all the Scots to leave unharmed.

Around the mid-1340s tragedy again strikes the Setons.  Twice.  First, Sir Alexander dies around 1343, and the title goes to the remaining son, Sir John.  Only, three years later, John dies at the Battle of Neville’s Cross in Durham, England.  And dies without issue.  Some list him as marrying a Margaret Ruthven and having a son, Alexander, but that is likely an echo of the mess they have created with Seaton and his son, who died at the Battle of Kinghorn.  I believe this to be false, because had there been a son, that child would’ve inherited the estate of his grandfather, not his aunt, Margaret.  For Margaret to become heiress it clearly means John didn’t have a child for the estate to go to, and as John’s younger sister, Margaret was next in line.

So, there in a space of less than three years, she loses her father, and his final son, John, dies in battle.  A lot of heartache facing a young woman.  With the passing of her father and brother, she is suddenly a very rich heiress—and target of greedy young men everywhere.

As you might assume, Sir Alexander was popular in the hearts of the people of East Lothian, in his never failing support around the Bruce family.  He had sacrificed a brother and three sons in protecting Bruce’s rule and his legacy, and finally the fourth son had died in the same service.  The prominence of the Seton family had risen, along with that of the Stewarts and Bruces.  Thus, the people of East Lothian felt a protectiveness toward young Margaret.  Only, others hoped to latch onto her wealth and the power of her name, so the young woman was nearly crushed in the stampede of suitors for her hand.

Into the middle of this story rides one dashing and handsome Baron Alan de Wyntoun, son of Alan de Wynton and Margaret Murray (de Moray).   This new Margaret really complicates matters in trying to keep things reasonably straight, because she is the granddaughter of Christian de Brus.  Yeah, Excedrin headache 113, and it only gets worse!  She was also the granddaughter of Thomas Randolph, 1st earl of Moray—Bruce’s nephew.  I know you are really hating all these tangled lines, but I needed to demonstrate why a small knight, a vassal of Sir Alexander Seton, would take it upon himself to swoop in and abduct Margaret.  I am assuming, though the Wyntouns, who took vows of homage and fealty to the mighty Setons, they felt they had as much right to status and position through their close lineage to the Bruces and the Randolphs.

Emboldened by the blood in his veins, Alan carried off Margaret in what the Scots called a “rough wooing”.  Well, hadn’t Marjorie Carrick snatched Robert Bruce, lord Annandale in this fashion?  And let’s not forget about William le Hardi Douglas, who executed a raid to abscond with his second wife, Eleanor Bagot de Lovayne.  Alan and Margaret grew up hearing these stories around fireside.  Alan was akin to the royal family, and was in fact cousin to the Setons.  I am guessing Alan saw the chance to raise the Wyntouns up to the level they had been heretofore denied by forcing the then seventeen-year-old woman into marriage.  At least, some said forced.

Alan wasn’t the first, nor the last Scotsman, to take this quick route to winning the hand of an heiress.  Only, it was another thing to pull this stunt so closely following Sir John’s death at Neville's Cross, and as they say, poor Alexander barely cold in his grave. 

Since the Wyntouns were close cousins to the Setons, and a cadet branch of her own family, there arose cries of consanguinity—mostly from the disappointed rivals, who still hoped to get their chance of being husband to the valuable heiress if they broke the marriage.  There is scant enough material to make a good judgment call on whether this was a kidnapping or an elopement.  I come down on the side that Margaret was a party to the plan, and was determined to marry whom she wanted before a king stepped in and forced her to wed someone she didn’t care for.  Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but how the event unfolded only reinforced that belief they were in love and wanting to control their own fate.

Inadvertently, the two lovers seemed to set half of East Lothians out for blood, while the others were ready to hold a wedding feast.  A bit of an exaggeration, perhaps, but it was said her abduction caused a war—the Wyntoun’s War.  Still, whether or not this was an actual abduction to force a marriage, or something Margaret actively participated in so she could marry Alan, was hotly debated at the time.  The one telling fact that sticks out in my mind—his uncle, William de Moray, brother to Alan’s mother, took the young couple into Edinburgh Castle.  He was governor there, and granted the lovers protection within the castle walls, barring the angry mob that was following in their wake.

One chronicler. Fordun, proclaimed that 'a hundred ploughs were laid aside in Lothian while the matter was discussed.’  Half favored “the ravisher” and applauded Wyntoun for taking the situation in hand.  Others were armed and ready to bring him in for punishment for daring to steal the daughter of his overlord.  And the jilted suitors likely screamed the loudest!  Citizens of Lothian grew into an angry mob and fell upon the castle, demanding Wyntoun be handed over.  When Wyntoun’s uncle refused, an objection quickly made it all the way to the ear of King David II,  and a call was sent out for Alan to be arrested—cousin or not!

Keep in mind, Alan and Margaret are my 19th great-grandparents, so I am possibly a bit prejudiced.  Be still my heart—for after much arguing and various threats, Margaret was required to perform The Ring or The Sword ceremony.  I wrote about the rite and ritual in A Restless Knight— when Tamlyn marries Julian Challon in the old ways.  Family lore says the couple I based them upon went through this ceremony when they wed, but they haven't been fully documented yet.  So, imagine my thrill at finding proof of yet another set of great-grandparents going through this very same ceremony! One tale says Margaret was blindfolded and made to choose between a sword and a ring, each resting upon a pillow.  She did not get to feel these objects, by the way, but had to touch the pillow upon which they rested to determine Alan's fate.  This was seen as a Trial by Ordeal—God’s hand would decide Alan’s fate through her selection.  Other tales say she made her own choice—knowingly, and had from the start.  Whichever you wish to believe, Margaret picked the ring, and she and Alan were officially wed.  They lived together as man and wife, and had two children*** —a son William and a daughter, Christian.

*** I put the stars here to make note there is extreme conflict on the number of children.  William and Christian are fully recognized and well-documented as Alan and Margaret’s children—their only children.  However, some genealogy sites list the couple as having two other sons—Alexander and Henry. Some list the men as Margaret’s sons, half-brothers to William and Christian, implying they were fathered by another man after Alan left.  However, this doesn’t hold water for me since both of these sons inherited Wyntoun lands and titles, and chose to use the Wyntoun name, not the Seton name and honours.  The conflicts arise because both are shown as born years after Alan’s death.  I sincerely believe the date of Alan’s death is off by a decade, and these two are his legitimate sons, which jives with proof to them inheriting his holdings and electing to use his surname.  Even sites that run by the Seton family recognize both of them as Alan’s.  If you take the stance, as I believe, Alan died ten years later than they record, then these are his legitimate sons.

Alexander de Wyntoun of Seton married Jean Halyburton, daughter of Sir Thomas Halyburton of Dirleton.  The youngest son, Henry de Wyntoun, retained his father's surname and inherited Wrychthouses in Edinburgh.  Henry married Amy Brouna of Coalston, and he went on to be one of the heroes of the Battle of Otterburn, August 19, 1388. 

Margaret’s daughter Christian (though they start up with muddling things again by often calling her Margaret, too), went on to do well, marrying George Dunbar, the 9th earl of Dunbar and March—son of Gelis Isabelle Randolph and John Dunbar, of Derchester & Birkynside, earl of Fife—and grandson of Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray.  They went on to have nine daughters and sons.

After the marriage, Alan changed his name to Seton, and used the title of Lord Seton, jure uxoris (by right of wife).  Even so, rumors held that Margaret’s family tended to make life such a continuing hell for Alan that by his early fifties he took to the cross, joining the Knights Hospitallers and went off on a crusade.  Since the last crusade had ended long before this time, it’s assumed he went to the Holy Lands as a pilgrim.  He is recorded as leaving 400 ducats of gold for safe keeping with a Venetian merchant, Nicholas Zucull, in London as he departed England, but that is the last anyone hears of Alan de Wyntoun de Seton.

In 1363 his son, Lord William Seton authorized Adam Wymondham, a citizen, and Nicholas Nogrebon, a Venetian, to recover the money.  The document states that Alan had died on his way to Mount Sinai, when about to visit the tomb of St. Katherine there.  The date of Lord William seeking to recover the money in 1363 seems to support Alan “vanishing” around 1357.  There is no reason they would wait sixteen years to recover the gold.

Little is mentioned of the remainder of Margaret’s life.  She died around 1360, about four years after the disappearance of her husband.

I am sorry such a pale hangs over the end to their story, both vaguely fading into the mists of history without a definitive end to their lives, or what happened to turn Alan against his family and to leave.  But the romance writer in me loves having a real life set of grandparents who went through The Ring and the Sword ceremony, just like my beloved Tamlyn and Julian.



Anniversary of the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh

 


On this day -- 1547, Scots were resoundingly defeated by the English at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh on the banks of the River Esk near Musselburgh close to Edinburgh.

The battle was came about because of the the “Rough Wooing” (attempt at a forced marriage), The English king demands that the ten-year-old Edward VI should marry Mary Queen of Scots, aged five, to unite the two crowns.

The military campaign on the Borders, was provoked by the Scottish Parliament reneging on a previous agreement that the wedding to would place. The Scots backed out because they saw the move for what it was -- putting Edward VI on the throne of Scotland to rule in Mary's place.

The battle was fought at Pinkie Cleugh (cleugh meaning narrow glen in Gaelic) outside Musselburgh. The Scottish forces numbered about 36,000 against the 16,000 English. However James Hamilton, Duke of Châtellerault, 2nd Earl of Arran, and Regent of Scotland lacked the training and discipline to wield such a large army, so they were hampered from the very start. In contrast, the English troops were ably led by the ambitious and experienced Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, Regent of England.  The Scots were slaughtered, primary for their lack of cavalry.

It was estimated that 15,000 Scots were killed, and 1500-2000 were captured, whereas English fatalities amounted to only 500. However, the battle proved counter-productive for the English. The “rough wooing” of the infant Mary precipitated her marriage to the French Dauphin, dashing English hopes. Queen Mary was smuggled out of Scotland to France, where she would later marry Francis, Dauphin of France, in 1558.

The Battle at Pinkie Cleugh can be regarded as the first “modern” battle on British soil; featuring combined arms, co-operation between infantry, artillery and cavalry and, most remarkably, a naval bombardment in support of land forces.
 
      

Duke of Somerset                                  Duke of Chatellerault 



09 September 2021

The Battle of Flodden Anniversary

 


King James IV of the Scots 



Battle of Flodden Memorial 

Battle of Flodden Noble Death-Roll
9th September 1513





A big part of my family was lost this day.
(the list is clickable to enlarge)














07 September 2021

Links to my articles on my ancestors, The women of Dunbar and The Women of Bruce

Coming in November
Women of Bruce - Part 7 - Daughters of Robert the Bruce - Marjorie Bruce Stewart, Elizabeth de Brus Oliphant of Gask, Margaret de Brus of the Glen, Christian de Brus of Carrick, Maud de Brus de Issac, Margaret de Brus Countess of Sutherland, 


Coming in October
Women of Bruce - Part 6 - Sisters of Robert the Bruce--Maud, Margaret and Mary



Wyntoun's War of the Rough Wooing of my 16th Great Grandmother


Women of Bruce - Part 5 - Sisters of Robert the Bruce--A Tale of Two Isabels



Women of Bruce - Part 4 - Sisters of Robert the Bruce--Christian


Women of Bruce - Part 3 - The Wives of Robert the Bruce


Women of Bruce - Part 2 - Isabel Macduff, countess of Buchan, a woman who crowned a king




A Tale of Two Women and One Castle - The Ladies of Dunbar - Part Two - Agnes Randolph



A Tale of Two Women and One Castle - The Ladies of Dunbar - Part One - Marjorie Comyn


Countess Mabel Montgomerie -- a woman ahead of her times, or a monster in men's eyes




(Just a note -- images are stock images or digitally created images, not meant to be taken as real images of the Bruce women...lol.  Actor portrayed, you might say)