A Golden Scotland

With the release of my novel The Marriage Alliance happening on Tuesday, August 15, I think this is the time to share some historical facts of my romance novel’s setting. The Marriage Alliance is set in 1256 Scotland. This era is a time when all seemed bright for the nation. No one knew that darkness would swoop in and cast the nation in a war.

In 1249, seven-year-old Alexander’s father died. Many sons lost their parents however, this boy was not another farmer. He was the Prince of Scotland. In July, Alexander sat upon the Stone of Scone and became the King of Scots. Some historians consider this period in Scottish history as the Golden Age. There was relative peace in the nation (though it was the Middle Ages so it wasn’t exactly peaceful) and the throne was secure.

At this time, England and Scotland enjoyed a close bond because of the relationships between the nobles of both nations. Many Scottish nobles possessed estates in England including the King of Scotland. To keep this ties knotted, Alexander married the daughter of the English king, Henry III. In December 1251, Alexander traveled to York to be knighted and celebrate his marriage to Margaret.

Henry III asked Alexander to do homage. But the young king understood the politics at play and replied, “I had come to marry not to answer so difficult a question.” Thankfully, this young king had loyal nobles in his government so he was able to reach his majority without a grab for his crown. The king had plans to grab some land–some islands off the coast of Scotland.

Alexander became the leader of a nation that was smaller than the Scotland we now know. At this time, the Hebrides, Shetland, and Orkney islands fell under Norwegian rule. To fulfill his father’s dream, Alexander first tried diplomacy to win the isles yet that failed. So in October 1263, the Battle of Largs happened.

The Battle of Largs is not considered a proper battle, more a series of skirmishes that occurred on the beaches of Largs.  The King of Norway and his fleet sailed to the western coast of Scotland. The Scots were helped by a gale that crushed the Norwegian fleet. The King of Norway failed to secure the isles and soon sickened and died. After this, the Hebrides became part of Scotland.

By 1275, the Queen of Scotland Margaret and sister to Edward I of England (also known as Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots) died. Margaret was much loved and has a religious following in the nation. Now a widow, Alexander had no reason to marry again. He had three children, an heir, spare, and a daughter who was married. Soon, death came for them all. David, the youngest son, died first then his daughter died in childbirth though her daughter (known in history as Maid of Norway) survived. Then on the 17 January 1284, his heir and namesake perished.

With all three children lost, the king had to marry again. He was still a young man so the nobles were not worried that more children would one day come.  He married Yolande, Comtesse de Montford, daughter of Robert, Comte de Dreux.

Five months after their marriage, the king was in Edinburgh to meet with his council. While he was in the royal burgh, the weather took a turn for the worst. That did not stop the king from setting out to the royal castle named Kinghorn located in Fife.

Though the storm was a northerly gale with heavy snow and led to a very dark night. He was able to sail across the Firth of Forth. The men in his party begged him to stay the night instead of continuing in his travels. He continued onward.

In the darkness, somehow the King of Scotland fell to his death. His body was found at the foot of the hill the next morn. The spot is now called the King’s Crag. He was 36 years old.

His wife was pregnant but she soon miscarried and the Maid of Norway died on the crossing to Scotland. The Wars of Independence would soon rage.  If Alexander had rested his head instead jumped into his saddle then Scottish and world history would have changed.

A Book By Any Other Name Still Needs A Title

A book title is as important as a child’s name. It must encapsulate the story as well as be catchy so our readers will hopefully remember it when it comes time to slap some money down for it.

When I needed to name my Scottish romance—The Marriage Alliance—I was lucky. The title came to me at once. The Marriage Alliance is about a marriage of convenience. So, my title did all that was required for a title. It hints to the reader the story and the genre. I think it’s also easy to remember too.

What do you think? Does my title work?


A Royal Love Affair

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria is remembered as the stern-faced queen dressed in her widow weeds. But beneath her frown and black satins was a woman of passion. In 1836, Victoria was a seventeen-year-old girl who would one day sit upon the British throne. She had a sad, lonely childhood and her world consisted of the walls of Kensington Palace. Many crowns of Europe desired her little hand (she was five feet) but one man, her cousin Albert, captured her heart.

Albert Saxe-Coburg

Albert was the second son of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Princess Louise Saxe-Gotha-Attenburg. His parents divorced when he was young and from all accounts he never saw his mother again after her banishment from court. Much like his cousin, his childhood was a sad one as well.

The two great loves first met when Albert traveled to England with his father and his brother (both named Ernest) in 1836. Of her two cousins, Albert captured her attention. “Albert, who is just as tall as Ernest but stouter, is extremely handsome; his hair is about the same colour as mine; his eyes are large and blue, and he has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth; but the charm of his countenance is his expression; which is most delightful c’est a la fois full of goodness and sweetness and very clever and intelligent.”

During his visit, details about Albert received more attention from her pen than his brother. She calls him dearest Albert and writes paragraphs about their time together. Victoria’s heart soared. As they were to depart, Victoria wrote,  “…I love Ernest and Albert more than them, oh yes, much more.” 

So much more that when she wrote her uncle she said, “I must thank you, my beloved Uncle, for the prospect of great happiness, you have contributed to give me, in the person of dear Albert. Allow me, then, my dearest Uncle, to tell you how delighted I am with him, and how much I like him in every way. He possesses every quality, that could be desired to render me perfectly happy. He is so sensible, so kind, and so good, and so amiable too. He has besides, the most pleasing and delightful exterior and appearance, you can possibly see.”

Victoria’s life returned to one of isolation under her mother’s rule. On June 20, 1837, the King, William IV died. The crown now sat upon her head. But their uncle, the King of the Belgians desired this political match. But for Albert and Victoria, it was a love match first and foremost. But Albert had to wait for Victoria to make the move.

While Albert waited in his home country, Victoria enjoyed her independence and would not rush into marriage.  It took two years before Victoria sent for Albert. But upon being in his presence, the queen knew that Albert was the man for her. Five days after his arrival, Victoria proposed to Albert. Being Queen, she had to pop the question. She wrote “that it would make me too happy if he would consent to what I wanted (that he should marry me). We embraced each other over and over again, and he was so kind and so affectionate.”

Albert returned to his home country to deal with his affairs. “I need not tell you that since we left, all my thoughts have been with you at Windsor, and that your image fills my whole soul. Even in my dreams I never imagined that I should find so much love on earth. How that moment shines for me when I was close to you, but with your hand in mine! Those days flew by so quickly, but our separation will fly equally so. Ernest wishes me to say a thousand nice things to you. With promises of unchanging love and devotion, your ever true Albert.”

On February 10, 1840, Albert and Victoria married at St.James’ Palace. “Albert repeated everything very distinctly. I felt so happy when he placed the ring on my finger. As soon as the Service was over, the Procession returned as it came, with the exception that dearest Albert led me out!…”  It was a grand affair with people crowding the streets and cheering the couple with the greatest of joy.  “Oh! this was the happiest day of my life!”

They were a passionate couple whose fights rang out and whose sexual passion resulted in nine children. Victoria hated being pregnant but she wouldn’t banish Albert from her bed. She loved her husband and the passion they shared. Albert became a great consort to the queen and added to the greatness of the Victorian Era.

On December 14, 1861, the two lovers were parted when Albert died. Victoria turned into the widow-weed wearing monarch we remember. The second longest reigning monarch of Great Britain passed on January 22, 1901, and was buried in her white dress and her wedding veil.