Friday, 16 August 2013

Leicester, Cecil and those Pesky Scots - Part three

Linda Root

The Captain of the Castle:
The knight of Grange is a somewhat larger than life personality of a type that would have appealed to Robert Dudley.  Both of them were popular with the ladies, and both enjoyed being cast in the role of a warrior.  Both were avid Protestants but neither of them were bigots.   
Kirkcaldy had been one of the Castilians of Saint Andrews, a group which in 1546 stormed the Episcopal palace of Cardinal David Beaton, leaving Beaton dead and the Castle in the hands of a ragtag band of Fifeshire Calvinists, a group which eventually included John Knox.   
When the Scottish regent attempted to starve them out, Kirkcaldy was one of three men smuggled to England to borrow money from dying Henry VIII.  After their return, the castle fell to a French naval force. Kirkcaldy was sent to France as a prisoner and incarcerated in the water bound fortress of Mt. Saint Michel. Within a year he had not only managed a spectacular prison break but was soon riding to battle against the Emperor Charles V at the side of French king, Henri II, who dubbed him one of the ‘first soldiers of Europe’. At the same time, he was spying on behalf of young Edward VI of England with the stipulation that he would not betray Scots. During this episode he met King Edward’s knight Sir Nicholas Throckmorton and later, William Cecil, who would later become principal advisor to the woman then known as the bastard Lady Elizabeth.
 In 1557, adolescent Marie Stuart, who had been living at the French court since 1548 as the intended bride of the Dauphin Francois, issued Kirkcaldy a pardon and sent him home. Initially he became an agent of her mother, Regent Marie of Guise. On her behalf, he was dispatched on a mission to England to meet with the Earl of Wharton as and to deliver secret letters to Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox.  The Regent sought to enlist Lady Margaret to induce her husband Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox to return to Scotland to join her in her power struggle with those who opposed her pro-French policies. For decades Lennox had been feuding with the earls of Arran for the slot of Scottish heir apparent, but resisted the temptation of the Regent’s offer, probably heeding the counsel of his more intelligent wife. 
Not long after his return from his English mission, Kirkcaldy joined the rebellious Lords of the Congregation in arms against Marie of Guise, who was garrisoning the Borders and the Midlands with French troops and planning to entice one of her young brothers of the House of Guise to relieve her as Regent.  Many Scots, not just those who were of the auld religion, feared that under the Regent’s rule, Scotland would soon become the new Provence.  Kirkcaldy was not the only one in her circle who joined the opposition.  
The Regent’s stepson Lord James Stewart (later Moray) and Secretary Maitland also left her service and joined the rebel camp. Shortly after Marie of Guise was forcibly relieved, she died.  Her friend king Henry Valois had died the year before and was succeeded by his frail son Francois II.  The Queen of Scots was thus the Queen of France.  She planned to grant Francois the Scottish crown matrimonial, but before that could be arranged, fragile Francois II was also dead. The adolescent Marie Stuart found herself a Queen Dowager in a France dominated by a hostile mother-in-law Catherine de’Medici, who thwarted Marie’s efforts to secure a second European royal marriage. With encouragement from her half-brother Lord James Stewart, she elected to return to Scotland to assume personal rule of a country she had not visited in thirteen years and which had adopted Calvinism in her absence.  
As long as she followed the lead of her half-brother James and his friends, made peace with the men who had abandoned her mother, and resisted interfering with the new religion, she did reasonably well at it.  She was pretty, young, charming and vigorous and the people loved her, everyone but John Knox, who made her cry.  
Kirkcaldy pledged his loyalty to the young queen when she returned to Scotland in 1561, and fought beside her and her half-brother Lord James Stewart and the powerful Earl of Morton at Corrichie Burn. The knight had spent much of his youth at the court of James V, where Lord James was the favorite among the king’s sizeable brood of illegitimate children. He and James Stewart (soon to become Earl of Moray) were lifelong friends.  A decade later when Moray was assassinated, even though they had political differences, Kirkcaldy was the chief mourner at his funeral, which was presided over by Knox.  Like Moray, Kirkcaldy remained loyal to his queen until 1565 when she married her hated second husband Darnley, son of the turncoat Scottish Earl of Lennox whose claim to fame was that he had married Henry VIII’s niece Margaret Douglas and that he stood high in the Scottish succession.  
 Illustrations Wikimediacommons

About the Author 

Linda Root lives in Yucca Valley, California with her husband Chris and two giant Alaskan Malamutes. Root is a former prosecutor with more than 140 trials to her credit, several sufficiently newsworthy to attract the national media. Two were featured episodes of The Prosecutors and Arrest and Trial. She has taught research and writing at the law school level.

Since college, Root has pursued an avocation provoked by the duality of the historical treatment of the Queen of Scots. Following an early retirement she combines her expertise as a researcher with her love of Tudor-Stuart history to a quest to rediscover the Queen of Scots. The result is a series of stand alone but related historical novels beginning with the epic The First Marie and the Queen of Scots, a tale of Marie Flemyng, one of the famous Four Maries who had served the queen since they were five years old.

The second segment, The Last Knight and the Queen of Scots explores Marie Stuart through the fictional adventures of colorful and controversial William Kirkcaldy of Grange, Europe's first-ranked soldier who later became her last champion.

The third book, a work soon to be released, is The Midwife's Secret:Book One The Mystery of La Belle Ecossaise, a look at the stunning aftermath of the years of Marie's personal rule, imprisonment and death as it impacted the life of a young woman of mysterious origin, hidden in France. A fourth book coming in mid to late 2013 is The Midwife's Secret, Book Two, The Other Daughter, the adventures of the illegitimate child born posthumously to the knight of Grange, and her personal quest.

Book five, The Reluctant Countess, is in the early planning stages.and its tragic aftermath from the prospective of a Scottish expatriate sent to France as a secret agent of her son, James VI and I. Root is a member of the Marie Stuart Society and a regular contributor to the Marie Stuart discussion group, an in active member of the State Bar of California and numerous historical and indie writer forums.

Reach her on her Facebook page or at

Linda's Amazon page US:
Linda's Amazon page UK

No comments:

Post a Comment