Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by VVD0D95, Nov 29, 2018.
Why does this short sentence fill me with foreboding?
Chapter 96: The Countdown Begins
“Your Royal Highness, we’ve seen the formations of the Earl of Lennox’s army, and I would recommend that we take the land to the right of the bridge as our main formation ground.” The Earl of Atholl said.
“I agree, we cannot simply sit here and wait for Lennox to come. We need to draw him to us and then attack.” Arran said.
Arthur raised an eyebrow. “Drawing him to us would be waiting for him to come to us.”
Arran shook his head. “Not at all, Your Royal Highness. If we waited for him to come we’d be sat doing nothing not even bothering to have defences. Here, we shall be placing defences and also ensuring he cannot do anything but attack.”
Arthur was not sure he understood what Arran was saying for it went against the military knowledge he’d been taught as a child. “Go on.” He commanded.
“Your Royal Highness, if we sit and do nothing, Lennox will come at his own pace and we shall be on the back foot. However, if we set up ground on the right of the bridge, we shall then be able to see the land for miles around. We can then send out parties to harass him, forcing him to act rashly.” Arran said.
“The Earl is right, Your Royal Highness, Lennox is not someone who thinks rationally before he acts. Furthermore, his commanders are not people used to conventional warfare.” Atholl said.
“What about Crawford, has there been any word on that man?” Arthur asked.
“Unfortunately not, Your Royal Highness.” Atholl said. “More than likely he will remain in his estates and not move until the battle is over.”
“Very well, I want a record of that put down so that the King knows what to do with him.” Arthur said.
“Yes Your Royal Highness.” Atholl said.
There was a brief pause, and then Arthur decided that he needed to settle battle formations and then he could perhaps rest and calm the restless beating in his chest. “How many men does Lennox have?”
“Four thousand men, Your Royal Highness.” Atholl said. “Drawn from Clans Sinclair, MacDonald and from various other minor clans. They’ve got two cannons with them as well, but are mainly infantry.”
“And we have twelve thousand men.” Arthur said. “Including twenty cannons.” Realistically they should be able to destroy Lennox’ host without sustaining too many casualties, but for some reason he kept thinking something would go wrong.
“Yes Your Royal Highness.” Atholl said.
Arthur still felt nervous, but he knew that showing that now would do him no good, so instead he said. “Atholl you shall command the left wing, Arran the right. I shall command the vanguard. We shall go in and hit them hard. Take Lennox as a prisoner, anyone else is to be killed.”
“Yes Your Royal Highness.” The two men said.
“Gentlemen, we meet at four this evening and then we shall attack.” Arthur said.
“Yes Your Royal Highness.” Both men responded. Arthur rose and walked out of the tent and back to his own. Once back there, he sat down, poured himself a glass of wine and tried to stop his hands from shaking.
Chapter 97: Funeral Rites
Matthew straightened out. The armour he wore weighed him down considerably, but he knew what he was doing. He might be outmanned and outgunned, but he was more experienced than the Duke of Albany. He knew how to fight and how to change the tide of battle. He’d fought in France with King Henry, he’d fought against the clans with King James. He knew what he was doing. He took a moment to assess the battlefield, saw that the Lion of Scotland was flying in the air, and nodded. He raised his sword high and then galloped off to meet the enemy.
As the ground between them shortened, Matthew pushed aside any and all doubts he had. This was the right thing to do, this was the right way to fight. This was how it had to go for a better Scotland. A Scotland away from the influence of Arran and corruption and tyranny. He needed to win this so his wife and children could be okay. He galloped on, and then came the first few blows. His axe swatted away men, boys really, who came at him with swords. He killed one of them and felt his blood spatter across his armour. He moved on. There was no time to watch and stare.
The frenzy was everywhere. Complete and utter chaos, and something that would reverberate around him for many years to come, of that he was sure. Still he pushed forward. Snaking through the lines and changing gears consistently. The enemy was pushing, using their greater numbers to overwhelm. But the clansmen that he had with him knew how to fight superior foes. They were weaving and dodging, twisting and turning. Never quite resting and never quite leaving an opening.
He killed another two boys before he saw him. The Duke of Albany was charging towards him a hammer in his hands. Matthew rode to meet him and then was stopped by a man he knew to be the Lord of Maxwell. The man came charging at him. Their weapons clashed together, swinging this way and that. Turning the screws on one another before Matthew found an escape and rode away, his horse kicking dust into the man’s face.
When Matthew looked up again, Maxwell was gone, but more men were surrounding him. He swung his axe, and took them down one at a time. Bringing heavy blows this way and that. His blood was singing with the exertion. He despised all the backstabbing that came with politics, but much preferred fighting and doing an honest day’s work. He swung and another man fell, this one was bearing Hamilton colours. That surprised him he would not have thought Hamiltonian soldiers would be fighting in the vanguard.
Arran preferred to take things slowly to see where the mood was going. But he supposed, Albany had pressed him into doing it and not wanting to appear weak, he had obliged. All the better. The more Hamiltons he killed the better life would be for them all. A swing knocked him slightly, but he managed to straighten himself out for the briefest of moments to swing his axe and kill the man who had done that to him.
He was about to right himself when another blow came, this one knocked him back, then he felt his horse go out from under him. It took all his strength for him to role away from his horse before it crushed him. When he stopped, he felt another blow and then the darkness hit him.
Matthew awoke some time later when water was poured on him. He woke up coughing and spluttering. He looked down and he was almost naked apart from trousers covering his area. “Where am I?”
“In prison.” The voice said. Matthew looked up and through blurred vision saw the Earl of Atholl towering over him.
“I lost then.” Matthew surmised.
“Aye, and now you will be executed for treason.” Atholl replied.
Chapter 98: A Brother’s Grief
It is with the deepest sorrow and sympathies that I write to Your Majesty to inform you that His Royal Highness the Duke of Albany passed away three days ago from wounds taken during the fighting against the traitor Lennox.
I await your instruction as to what to do with the man.
Your faithful subject
John Stewart, Earl of Atholl.
James finished reading the letter and handed it to Jane. He sat down. He wanted to weep, to shout, to yell, but he found that he could do nothing of those things. It was as if his body was refusing to process the information on the page. Jane put the letter down and took his hand. “My love.” He didn’t look at her, he kept staring into nothingness. “My love, look at me.” With the greatest of reluctance, he turned and faced his wife. “My love, I am sorry.”
“I know.” James replied, managing to get the words out. He felt something welling in his eyes and blinked to push them back. He was a King, and Kings did not cry.
“My love, I loved Arthur like a brother, we will all miss him, but he did his duty. He fought and defeated Lennox now the man can cause nobody any trouble.” Jane said.
James closed his eyes. He knew his wife was speaking the truth, that didn’t make it any easier. “And Arthur is dead.” He swallowed and felt his chest shake. “For what? For some fucking idiot like Lennox?”
Jane squeezed his hand. “He died fighting for his King and for his Kingdom. He did his duty.”
James laughed. “Duty. What is duty but the death of love?” He shook his head. “I should have been the one leading the fight against Lennox. He was rebelling against me, not Arthur. I should have been the one killing that ambitious snake of a man.”
“And what would you have done if it had been you who had died?” Jane asked. “What would we have done?”
James did not know how to answer that. He knew that his wife was right, that as King he didn’t need to fight such a small battle, but still, that small battle had cost him his brother’s life. He had promised he would protect his family and now they were gone. He sighed. “I do not know.” James took another breath. “I do not know what to do.”
“Look at me, my love.” Jane said, and he obliged. “I’ll tell you what you do. You put Lennox on trial for treason, you execute him and then you have his body sent to all corners of the three Kingdoms. You take his Earldom and you make his wife and children dependent on the good will of the crown. You make them rely on you, and you make sure that his supporters never come out into power ever again.”
“Where do I send his supporters, they were all from the highlands?” James asked.
“You reach out to the French and the Portuguese, ask them to take the highlanders on their ships as indentured workers. They will make their peace that way.” Jane said.
James straightened up. “Very well. I shall do that. But first I will speak with Lennox myself.” He rose and rolled his shoulders. “I believe the time has come for us to venture to Edinburgh, my love.”
Jane smiled. “Indeed it has.”
Well, I wasn't expecting that! But it rings completely true, so I'm glad you've gone down this route!
Also, I assume James and Jane have children by now? Is it worth their taking them North too - at least the Duke of Rothesay - to remind the Scottish who their future King will be?
Glad you're enjoying it
And they do indeed, and I think they might well take their eldest two north with them.
I can post the family tree if you want? Just to make it a bit clearer?
There ya go @FalconHonour
Not sure about indenturing the Highlanders - it's a bit early for North America and the Portuguese didn't use indentured labour a lot (Spanish did on their galley fleets). You hardly want an exiled "Wild geese" equivalent in France either.
Dispossession by loyal clans was usual punishment?
Agreed, you'll be seeing Arran and Atholl mention this when James and Jane are in Edinburgh.
Any suggestions for the brides/husbands of James I and VI and Jane's kids would be greatly appreciated
William of Orange? A Swedish Prince? One of their Danish cousins?
I would suggest one of the Valois girls, but I am not sure how keen they'd be to marry a non- Catholic. Although I would love to give Margaret (the one who married Henry of Navarre) a happier marriage..
Hmm, Katherine could marry William of Orange's eldest son and heir Philip William? Given what I've got planned for the Oranges that could make sense. Could definitely see Jane junior being proposed for Christian IV of Denmark
Phillip William could work for Katherine, and his marrying a Protestant, or at least non-Catholic, might ease a lot of the fears his subjects have about his Catholic upbringing - if he ends up a Spanish hostage ITTL, of course.
As for the Duke of York, I could see him marrying domestically, perhaps to control a more rebellious part of the Kingdom, or else for love and refusing to marry anyone but the woman he has chosen....
and oh? Somewhat like his ancestor Edward IV?
Separate names with a comma.