Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Noble Heart

Well, This is the last day of June and thus, I am going to wrap up my Bruce month with one more post. I have been having a very good time writing these story posts this last month, and I think I will do more of these in the future.

Today, I'm going to give you another Douglas story. James Douglas died in Spain on a crusade, carrying Robert the Bruce's heart in a casket as he had asked him to. Bruce's heart now lies in Melrose Abbey where a round memorial stone reads: "A Nobel heart hath no ease if freedom fail."

The Moors had invaded southern Spain, and Douglas had gone to fight. A long time ago, he and Robert, now dead, had talked about going on a crusade. Robert had always wanted to go on one, but he had passed away before he had a chance to make that possible. Before he died, though, he asked Douglas if he would take his heart with him. So Douglas had a small casket made that he could carry with him and he set off on the crusade alone.

They had reached a small town called Teba in Spain where they were supposed to meet with reinforcements, but something went wrong and the Scots were attacked. Douglas thought in those few minutes that he was granted before he had to fight, that it was most likely foul play. But before he could think anymore, he turned to his men and raised his sword.
"Come, let us fight this day, companions. For Robert." He then took the casket from his tunic and, standing in the path, threw it toward the oncoming army. "Go forward brave heart!" he shouted. "Douglas shall follow you or die!"

The men shouted in agreement and they followed Douglas into the charge.

The Scots were horribly outnumbered and before long, James Douglas fell, wounded beyond recovery. He clasped the casket he had found again and sighed.

"It's a good thing we did not do this poorly winning Scotland, back, my friend," he said then closed his eyes.

Douglas's body was taken back to Scotland and laid in St Brides while Bruce's heart was put in Melrose Abbey and is still there to this day.


I hope everyone has enjoyed Bruce Month as much as I have! I'll be back some next month and then I'm going to have to start thinking about August and Wallace again. I'd love to do a story request for the life of Wallace, so please tell me what your favorite Wallace story is and I'll try my best at telling it.

For now, though, I'm going to go back to my novel writing!

Slainte, Hazel

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Bannockburn!

Hello, everyone, and Happy Bannockburn to you all! For those of you who missed it last year, here is the post where I wrote about the battle. Now, today as my surprise to you, I decided to give you a wee sneak peak into one of my books that is going to be published very soon. This one is titled Freedom's Sword and is my novel about William Wallace. It's one I wrote a couple years ago, but it's now undergoing heavy revision and when I'm done with that, I'm going to self publish it. If everything goes as planned, it will be up for sale by Wallace Day. If not, you will still have my other Wallace book, Freedom Come All Ye, to read by then, because that one will definitely be done.

So anyway, this scene I chose takes place at the Battle of Falkirk where Wallace's army is loosing against the English and he suddenly looks up and realizes that Robert the Bruce is fighting on the English side. (And as a historical note: This I took from Blind Harry's version of Wallace's story and, for some parts, I paraphrased his wording. Historians have been at odds as to whether Bruce was actually ate Falkirk or not. Historically, I don't really think he was either, but it makes for a good story plot and a good defining line. I think that if Bruce had encountered Wallace on the battlefield, he would have changed his allegiances pretty quickly.)

But I'll just wheesht and let you read it now! ;-)

He didn’t know how long he knelt there before he heard a horse galloping toward him. He looked up and saw that it was an English knight with a lance leveled at him. But it was not the lancer who had caught his eye. It was another horseman who was riding out of the Scottish ranks. At first, Wallace searched to see who it was, for the stance of the man and his device seemed familiar to him, then he was left in no doubt when he saw the golden hair curling from underneath the helmet.

“Bruce!” Wallace spat, his eyes flashing as he leapt up, forgetting his sword, and grabbed the surprised lancer, throwing him from the saddle. He leapt on the horse and tore after the retreating knight.

“ROBERT BRUCE!” Wallace shouted out, his voice so full of hatred and anger that Bruce looked back over his shoulder. His heart actually clenched in fear as he saw Wallace, vengeance clouding his eyes, as he rode the traitor Scotsman down.

Wallace urged his horse onward until he was neck-and-neck with Bruce’s mount, then he leapt sideways, grabbing Bruce’s arm and bringing them both crashing to the ground. Bruce fell on top of Wallace, crushing his ribs with his heavy armor. Wallace didn’t seem to notice the weight crushing him and shoved the other man away. His helmet had fallen off and Wallace grabbed him around the throat, glaring into his eyes.

“Robert, ye’re a bloody traitor!” he shouted at him.

Bruce wrenched Wallace’s hands away from his throat and shoved him backwards, standing up as he glared at the other man..

“Traitor, is it? Where do you get your gall to oppose the king of England?!”

Wallace stood up as well, his hands clenching into fists. “Robert! It’s your unwillingness to act and yer cowardice that cause me to fight to free a land that is yours by right!” he shouted. “Have they brainwashed ye sae much that ye believe what Longshanks has to say? It’s ye Bruce, who have driven me to such drastic and perhaps even foolhardy measures, because ye, Scotland’s rightful leader, wouldn’t wake up and lead them against the English tyranny!” Wallace shook his head in disgust and quieted his voice a bit. “I told ye several months ago that I would follow ye if only ye would take the lead,” he motioned to his dilapidated army. “They would follow ye, Robert, but they need to know that they can trust ye, and nothing I say will make them decide that. So ye need to choose if you are going to serve Edward and hope he doesna spike yer head on London Bridge, or if ye want to be the man who will lead the Scots to freedom.”

“I would fight, Wallace!” Robert began. “It’s just complications. I want what you want, William: Freedom. But there are other ways to get it than fighting useless wars!”

“So ye would make a pact with our worst enemy instead?!” Wallace cried, disgusted almost to the loss of words. “That’s not freedom, Robert. You don’t have the gall to stand up and fight for a country that is yours by right! You think Longshanks will set ye on the throne? He want’s it for himself! Ye’d be nothing but a puppet, Robert, a lackey bent to his will like Toom Tabard! I have seen Baliol, Robert. And he’s a broken man. No, you would not rule Scotland, Bruce, and I think deep down inside ye know that.”

“I don’t have a choice, Wallace!” Bruce protested, his voice hoarse with feeling and anger. “I...”

“There’s always a choice!” Wallace shouted, stopping his words. “Do you not see that? I would have followed you! As my brother, Robert!” He paused and then lowered his voice to an earnest whisper. “As my king.” Then without another word, he turned and stumbled off, leaving a flabbergasted Bruce standing open-mouthed, watching his back as he walked off. The Scottish knight felt his mind clear then and suddenly, he knew where his allegiances lay and where, now, they always would.

So, tell me if you liked it and also, for the rest of the month, tell me some of your thoughts on Bruce and Wallace's acquaintance. I'd like to know what you think. Also, as I said before, if you have any other stories about Bruce you would like me to tell before the end of the month, or even into next month, please let me know! I am planning at least one more for next week, so let me know by then.

Happy Bannockburn Day. Alba gu Bragh!

Slainte, Hazel

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bruce and Sir Henry de Bohun

This is a favorite story from the Battle of Bannockburn and has been immortalized in a lot of paintings of Robert the Bruce. This was a fight that happened just before the battle started on the first day, when Robert was getting his men ready. Sir Henry de Bohun (rhymes with bafoon) was an English knight who decided to try his hand at fighting the King of Scots. To dire consequences.

Robert the Bruce, King of Scots rode his small sturdy garron pony in front of his men, seeing that they were all in good order. He was not really expecting to fight that day, but keeping up appearances would show the English that the Scots were not just barbarians. That they could turn out in style.

It was not long before the English army began to come over the hill, banners flying gayly in the air. Robert looked at them and spoke to his general, Sir James Douglas.

"What think you of the day, Jamie?" he asked him.

"I think the English have only pomp on their side while we have the want of freedom," the young man replied and Bruce smiled at him.

"Let us pray it is enough then." He started again down the line of his men, talking to them, reassuring them of the fight to come.

On the English side, Sir Henry de Bohun watched the Scottish king ride in front of his men. His battle horse shifted eagerly under him, knowing action was close, but restless for it. de Bohun looked again at King Robert. He was not even paying attention. He could ride over to his quickly and be done with him before anyone cold stop him! He only seemed to be armed with a battle axe as well while Bohun had a lance. He smiled to himself. Aye, it would be easy. Before he could think against it, he urged his horse forward, charging toward the man who wore the gold circlet over his helmet.

Bruce heard him coming and swung his pony around, grasping his battle axe in the same movement. He did not hesitate to charge the oncoming horseman and spurred the garron into action. Douglas and his other commanders stared in horror as they saw him charge, but they could not get out to help him before he was already engaged.

De Bohun had lowered his lance at the king as soon as Bruce had begun to charge him and he smugly urged his horse forward even faster, eager to prove his valor and win single combat against the rebel king of Scots. But before he knew what was happening, Robert the Bruce jerked his garron to the other side of Bohun's horse and, standing in his stirrups, he swung his battle axe down with huge force onto the English knight's head. The blow was so powerful, that it split Bohun to the breastbone and shattered the axe haft in Bruce's hand.

Without another thought, Bruce swung his pony around and headed back to his lines, holding the shattered haft in his hand and looking at it grimly. As he got back, Douglas met him with a speachless, wide-eyed look. He finally gained his voice and choked out:

"What were you thinking? You could have been killed! That was a foolish thing to do, Robert!"

Bruce nodded. "I know. I broke my good axe."


And that was what he was actually reported to have said :) Good old Scottish humor!

So, Friday is Bannockburn and I promised you all a special treat! (I hope you'll think it is anyway ;-) so I'll be back then.

Slainte, Hazel

Saturday, June 18, 2011

James the Good

All right, then, today, I'm going to give you a story about Sir James Douglas, one of Bruce's faithful followers and closest friends. He was also known as James the Good or The Black Douglas for his dark complexion--not because he was cold-hearted, for he was a very chivalrous knight.

The story I'm going to tell you today is about how Douglas took an English occupied castle in the middle of the night with hardly any problem whatsoever!

James Douglas watched the soldiers on the wall top as they marched back and fourth, studying their patterns. He beckoned to his men.

"They do not look down," he told the men. "We will sneak up on them that way."

"But they will see us coming from afar!" one of the men protested.

"They will see us. Be we will crawl. In the mirk, no one will know the difference between us and cows!"

The men approved this wisdom and they set out to cross the field, wrapping their weapons under their dark cloaks and some taking light rope ladders upon their backs.

Up on the wall top a woman sat with her baby, singing gently to it a lullaby that all the English mothers were singing at the time:

"Hush ye, hush ye, do not fret ye,
The Black Douglas shall not get thee."

She looked up as the guards spoke to each other then, pointing below to the grounds.

"What's that?" one asked his companion.

"Looks to be some cows runaway, man," the other guard replied. "If they're still there tomorrow, we can make a meal out of them."

They did not notice the ladders slipping over the battlements and as they continued their patrol, a dark clothed figure slipped over the wall top just as the mother finished singing to her babe the lullaby again.

"The Black Douglas shall not get thee."

"Do not be sure of that," Douglas said as he dropped down beside her.

"You!" the woman almost cried, but Douglas put a hand over her mouth.
"Wheesht!" he hissed and beckoned to one of him men now over the wall top. "He will stay with ye and keep ye safe. No harm will come to you and the bairn." And then he was gone along the wall. He rushed down the steps and opened the gates before any of the English could stop him, letting in the rest of his army. They quickly took the castle and before the English could do anything the Scots had won. And the woman and her baby were saved by one of the most hated enemies the English ever had.


Tell me how you are liking my stories and also if there are any you want me to tell about :) This next week, I hope to get at least two posts done as Friday will be Bannockburn when I have a special treat planned for you! ;-)

Slainte, Hazel

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bannockburn T-shirts!

I just put up a new Bannockburn t-shirt on my Cafepress store, History Buffs Unlimited! Go take a look! It has the date of the battle on the front along with the Lion Rampant and on the back it has a quotation from the Declaration of Arbroath! Besides that I am really excited to be telling you that two of my books that I am self-publishing are going to be out before Wallace Day this year! Both of them feature William Wallace and will be a perfect companion to comorate Wallace Day. Once I get them ready for sale, I will be sure to tell you when and where you can get them!

Slainte, Hazel

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bruce and the Spider

This is probably one of the most well-known stories about the great Hero King Robert the Bruce but yet, it probably never really happened. But as I said before, history is made up of things that mostly didn't happen. But these are the stories that we remember and I for one have nothing against them.

So this is how the story goes:

It was during Bruce's war with the English and his army had been having the worst of luck. They had been driven back six times on the field of war and Robert was beginning to loose hope of ever seeing his country free. He himself had to go into hiding or risk being taken by his enemies and meet the same fate as his proceeder, William Wallace.

Bruce wandered hopelessly with his small group of men and one night they came on a deserted old barn. Dead weary, they decided to stay there for the night as it was raining and they were already soaked to the bone. Bruce lay down in some straw and tried to rest, but rest would not come to him. His heart was sore for the want to free his people and the seeming fact that it would never be.

But as he lay there, he happened to look up and see a spider on the ceiling. He found that he pitied her as he watched her try to swing to the next rafter to weave her web. It was six times that he watched her, seeing then that it had been six times he had fought the English and had been driven back. He watched her stop and thought she had given up. Bruce's heart was even heavier now.

"It seems we have both failed," he said softly with a deep sigh.

But the spider had not given up. She tried again working carefully this time and as Bruce watched, she swung over to the next rafter. Elated at the sight, Bruce leapt up and, full of hope once more, he smiled up at the spider.

"You have given me hope, wee spider," he told her happily. "I too, shall try again!"

And so he gathered his men and sent word for any loyal Scot to join him and eventually they met the English on the fields of Bannockburn and won their freedom.

And so that was my wee version of Bruce and the Spider. If you have any particular Bruce story you would like me to write about this month, please ket me know. I am going to try to write them all in story form, so you can pretend I'm playing story-teller this month :) Don't be shy to let me know what you want to hear about. Drop me a comment or email me at

I'll be back again soon with more Bruce stories!

Slainte, Hazel

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Robert the Hero King

I had wanted to have a Bruce month this year like I did for Wallace last year, but it's come up on me faster than I expected, and I have not had the time to do any real research on Robert the Bruce. Wallace, I didn't really have to do any research on because I've read so many things on him and written two books about him to boot, but Robert, while I know his story, do not know enough to spontaneously write a bunch on posts on! However, instead of a history lesson you can find in any book, I have decided to focus more on the legends surrounding Robert the Bruce and his companions. Stories like Bruce and the Spider and some about James the Good the Black Douglas. I'm come to the conclusion over the years that historians may try to write the truth, but it's always the folklore in history that people remember and those are the stories that have gone down the generations.

So that's what I am going to do for you this month. I'll probably not get as much writing in as I had wanted, but I will definitely enjoy writing some of my favorite stories from Robert the Bruce's time period. If there's any particular thing you would like me to write about, please let me know.

Now, the reason I chose June for my Bruce month is because the Battle of Bannockburn in on the 24th. I talked about that last year, so this year, I want to tell more about Bruce. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or questions.

I'll go for now, I'll be back soon with another post! =)

Slainte, Hazel