Scotland, 1356 – The Douglas Bastard

Welcome JR Tomlin to the blog with a guest post on 14th century Scotland – the background to The Douglas Bastard and her Archibald the Grim Series.

Published 2022 / 185 pages

@tomlinjeanne @cathiedunn

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Scotland, 1356. It is indeed a time of war.

By J R Tomlin

While Archibald Douglas, bastard son of the framed ‘Black Douglas,’ was growing up in exile in France, the bloody Second Scottish War of Independence raged on. Fourteen years later, English King Edward is still determined to force his puppet king on the Scots.

Now a knight, Archie follows his cousin, the Lord of Douglas, in an attempt to take back the Scottish city of Berwick-upon-Tweed with help from their French allies. No one thinks it will be easy. Berwick has been held by the English for the fourteen years of the war. The city walls are high and solid, and it is guarded by Berwick Castle just outside its walls.

Archie and his companions land by sea at night and use ladders to climb the walls of the sleeping city. The surprise gives them the advantage they need. The people of Berwick desperately flee to Berwick Castle, leaving behind a city to loot. The English guards make a rearguard action and are quickly cut down.

But taking the city is not enough. To hold Berwick against a counterattack they know will come, they must take Berwick Castle. Archie leads the defense in beating off a counterattack from the castle, but taking it fails. When word comes that King Edward has ceased his attack on the French to return to defend Berwick, the Scottish leaders decide to withdraw.

King Edward is not satisfied with retaking Berwick. He marches his huge army into Scotland, meaning to punish the Scots for their defiance. It is the largest army the English have ever brought against Scotland, and the only way to stop it is to deprive its thousands of men and many thousands of horses of food and supplies. The people must flee. Every scrap of food and every bite of fodder in the south of Scotland must be carried away or destroyed. This will take more time than they have.

Archie schemes to find a way to delay the coming attack with his close friend Will Ramsay and the Lord of Douglas. What will tempt King Edward? Archie is convinced that all that will pause the English King in his fury for revenge is an offer of complete surrender. So to save Scotland, the three comrades-in-arms must venture into the den of the lion with a proposal that is a lie.

The Douglas Bastard

Young Archibald, the Black Douglas’s bastard son, returns from exile to a Scotland ravaged by war. The war-hardened Knight of Liddesdale will teach him what he must learn. And with danger on every side, he must learn to sleep with one eye open and a claymore in his hand because even their closest ally may betray them…

Archibald the Grim Series on Amazon: Amazon UK: / Amazon US:

Author Bio:

J R Tomlin is the author of twenty historical novels. Her historical novels are mainly set in Scotland. You can trace her love of that nation to the stories of Robert the Bruce and the Black Douglas that her grandmother read her when she was small and to her hillwalking through the Scottish Cairngorms where the granite mountains have a gorgeous red glow under the setting sun.

In addition to having lived in Scotland, she has traveled in the US, mainland Europe and the Pacific Rim. She now lives in Oregon.

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