Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Guest Author Amanda Forester -- Fact or Fiction: French Knights in Medieval Scotland?


Today on History Undressed, I'm pleased to welcome Amanda Forester back for another fascinating post! And if you leave a comment you'll be entered for a chance to win a copy of her new release, TRUE HIGHLAND SPIRIT. (US & Canada Only)





Fact or Fiction:  French Knights in Medieval Scotland?
by Amanda Forester

One thing I enjoy about writing historical fiction is doing the research.  As a history buff, I enjoy learning new historical facts.  For example, I was surprised to learn that Scotland was almost conquered by the English in 1356.  Okay, that’s not terribly surprising since the Scots were almost conquered by the English many times throughout history, but this particular time the French were to blame. 

Let me set the stage.  In 1346, Scotland’s King David (the son of Robert the Bruce) invaded England but was defeated at the Battle of Neville’s Cross and taken prisoner by King Edward III.   Nine years later, David was still locked in the Tower of London while the two countries slowly negotiated the ransom to secure his release. 

On the eve of a settlement, France entered the picture with a tempting offer.  The French were currently at war with England (in what was later known as the Hundred Year’s War), and had no interest in seeing peace on the British Isle.  So a legion of French knights sailed off to Scotland and offered 40,000 moutons of gold if Scotland would agree to go to war with England. 

In 1355 the Scots and French invaded northern England.  Unfortunately, they underestimated England’s reserve and at the sight of 80,000 experienced English troops, the French decided it was time to go home and left the Scots to their fate.

Now the Scots were in a tight spot.  They retreated, but King Edward declared himself the King of Scotland and threatened to invade.   The Scots realized they could not survive open warfare against the English, and so relied instead on a bit of trickery.  They sent the Earl of Douglas to negotiate their surrender, and gained 10 days of a truce.  During this time, the Scots retreated back into the North, taking every scrap of food with them.  When King Edward finally marched into Scotland he found it devoid of all living inhabitants.  Unable to live off the land, Edward was forced to rely on dwindling supplies.
 
Edward was enraged at being deceived by Douglas and in vengeance marched into Scotland, burning and destroying everything in his wake.  This was later known as Burnt Candlemas.  However, Edward’s wrath was short lived, as his soldiers were nearing starvation.  The English king was forced to retreat, and the Scots made the most of harassing the hungry troops as they fled back to England.

This wonderful bit of history inspired my second and third books in my Highlander series.  In TRUE HIGHLAND SPIRIT the hero is in fact a French knight.  I’m sure readers will probably think I’ve allowed my imagination to run wild. French knights in Scotland? Preposterous!  And yet, that part of the book is actually based on fact!

TRUE HIGHLAND SPIRIT chronicles the initial attack by the French and Scots and the aftermath.  With the independence of Scotland at stake, who can save them?  My heroine of course! In my book Morrigan develops the plan to repel the English out of Scotland.  And that, my friends, is pure fiction.  This is the best part about writing historical fiction for me - using the rich historical setting to spark the imagination and create interesting characters through whose escapades I can live during fascinating times in history… all without giving up hot showers or central heating!  Happy reading! 

Do you enjoy novels that bring the history to life in the lives of the characters?  What is the right balance for you between character, plot, and history lesson?  Comment on the blog for a chance to win a copy of TRUE HIGHLAND SPIRIT.

TRUE HIGHLAND SPIRIT
Morrigan McNab learned to survive with a sword in her hand. Taking command, she is determined to protect her impoverished clan, no matter the cost. When an elusive French knight offers gold to fight against England, she joins the call to arms. Sparks fly on the battlefield as a forbidden passion smolders between Morrigan and Sir Dragonet. Yet Sir Dragonet holds a secret that will destroy the hope for a life together, and will make them rivals on a dangerous quest for a mysterious relic. As they fight beside each other against the English, and against each other to find the treasure, their love becomes a greater force than either can control.

Visit Amanda:  website, facebook, or twitter.

4 comments:

Svea said...

What a fascinating guest post! Historical fiction is my favorite genre for the same reason you love to write it. The story doesn't have to end with the last page because I can go research the events and characters afterwards. As far as balance between characters, plot and history lesson, I'd say Elizabeth Chadwick is exceptional in providing the right mixture of all the elements. The history isn't too dry because the plot is mesmerizing and characters are completely three dimensional.

Ashley Bushey said...

I find it fun to read historical romances esp scottish romances. I learn what things were like hundreds of years ago plus get to picture the landscape, the hunky man in the kilt with the sexy accent & dream I'm the heroine. Historical romances let me do what I love read a love story yet learn alittle about the past.

Motorlips19@aol.com

textilehistorIE said...

I <3 historical fiction because it gives me just enough spice to hang the actual lesson onto. I find it pretty easy to separate out the fact/fiction, especially when there's an author's note at the end to confirm my suspicions. But I do love remembering a historical fact, then realising that it was a fictional adventure that helped me remember it.

Your book looks great! :D

Jen said...

I love history and historical fiction because it can take me back in time and forget about today's problems.

The book sounds great. It is now on my reading list.