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My series, THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS, takes place during the chaotic aftermath of Scotland's crushing defeat at the Battle of Flodden.

james IV
James IV

What a difference a day makes. In this case, that day was September 9, 1513, the day the Scots were defeated by the English at Flodden.

The Great Hall at Stirling Castle

Before the Battle of Flodden, Scotland seemed to be on the verge of a golden age. King James IV fostered the growth of universities, supported musicians and poets, and built palaces that rivaled those on the continent.

The king, who learned to speak Gaelic, had even gained the allegiance of the usually rebellious Highland chieftains. For a time, he also achieved "Perpetual Peace" with England by his marriage to Margaret Tudor, Henry VII daughter, in a union hailed as the Thistle and the Rose.

Peace, perpetual or otherwise, proved difficult to maintain once Margaret's younger brother, Henry VIII, was on the throne. When France called on Scotland's help in fighting the English, James IV honored the Auld Alliance and marched into northern England with perhaps 30,000 men.

Henry VIII
Henry VIII

Margaret Tudor

James IV led the Scots to a crushing defeat at the Battle of Flodden in Northumberland. Thousands of Scots died in the battle. The king, who foolishly put himself in the thick of the battle as if he were an ordinary soldier, was among the many, many dead.

Unfortunately, the king left a seventeen-month-old babe as heir to the throne. In the absence of a strong king, court factions vied for power, clan chieftains sought to increase their lands and influence, and a number of the Highland clans rose up in rebellion.

The young and handsome Douglas chieftain, the Earl of Angus, charmed his way into the queen's bed almost before the king's body was cold. The fact that Margaret Tudor was pregnant with the dead king's child did not appear to give either of them much pause.


Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus

My hero and heroine in THE GUARDIAN, Book 1 of THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS, meet up with this dangerous pair of lovers at Stirling Castle.

Douglas overplayed his hand when he married Margaret. The Council was leery of having their enemy's sister as regent and was glad for an excuse to replace her with the Duke of Albany, a Stewart who was raised in France. Margaret, however, refused to hand over the royal children until Albany laid siege to Stirling Castle.

Margaret Tudor Defying Parliament
A number of Highlander chieftains died at Flodden, although there are conflicting stories as to how many and which ones were killed in the battle. This sudden change in the leadership of several clans at once added another layer of volatility, shifting alliances, and violence to this period following the Battle of Flodden.

My four heroes in THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS miss the battle because they are fighting in France at the time. As soon as they hear the news of the Scot's devastating loss to Henry VIII's forces at Flodden, they hurry home to help their clan through the troubled times ahead.

And troubled times they were.

* Photos courtesy of Wikipedia, except for the photo of The Great Hall, which was taken by the author.


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