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Caledon, Book #1
by Virginia Crow
Publication Date: January 22nd, 2019
Genre: Historical Fantasy
"Go out and tell all those you meet, Caledon has risen. Caledon will be protected and defended. And to you who would cause her harm, be prepared. A new fight has come."
After the destruction of the Jacobite forces at Culloden, Scotland is divided, vulnerable and leaderless, with survivors from both sides seeking to make sense of the battles they have fought against their fellow Scots.
James Og flees Drumossie, seeking the protection of his uncle's house in Sutherland. It is here that James learns that the Northern Highlands hold a secret power only he can wield: Caledon. When Ensign John Mackay begins hunting Og's family, James realises he must harness this power to defeat the enemies of Scotland.
But, as the ageless Caledon awakes, so too does an ancient evil. When it allies with Mackay, the small Clan of Caledon faces enemies at every turn, discovering that even those closest to them may seek to destroy them.
More Than 1745 and All That!
There are modern misconceptions about Jacobites. Amongst them is the idea that Bonnie Prince Charlie started the ’45 because he wanted to be king, that it was Scotland against England, or that all Jacobites were Catholic and it was in some way a religious conflict, or that the 45 was all that the Jacobites were about. We have a romantic view about Over the Sea to Skye and Flora MacDonald, but the true events were messy and brutal, both physically and psychologically.
It did all begin as a religious feud, and one which predated the Jacobite movement. When Charles II died and James II inherited the kingdoms there was a strong movement against him, but it did not come to a head until the birth of his son, the future disputed James III. This was because, unlike his two eldest sisters, Mary and Anne, baby James was a Catholic. What followed, only months after the birth of James, was the Glorious Revolution, where parliament ousted James II in favour of his daughter, Mary, and her protestant husband William of Orange. James was gone and the country was saved from papal allegiances. Glorious all around! Only not, because of a little matter called The Divine Right of Kings.
The Divine Right of Kings was really the root of the Jacobite movement, and it was not exclusively Catholic. England and Scotland were both run by hereditary lords and, if they were to admit to the fact The Divine Right of Kings did not exist, they would also be admitting that their own ranks (having been bestowed by those in God’s favour) were in doubt. As a result of this, there was a massive shift in peerage families which coincided with the Glorious Revolution.
The first Jacobite rebellion (though parliamentarians refer to them as uprisings), was an immediate response to the overthrowing of James II. The Battle of the Boyne is amongst the most lasting of this legacy, but here in Scotland this rebellion was headed by John Graham, who became known as Bonnie Dundee or Bluidy Clavers depending on which side of the camp you sat. He was ruthless but an incredibly skilled tactician, and the Jacobite cause flourished for the brief time he remained in charge. He was rumoured to have sold his soul to the devil, as he had such incredible luck in the field despite leading from the front. This luck run out on the Braes of Killiecrankie and, with his death, came the beginning of the end of the first rebellion. Dundee, by the way, was an Episcopalian.
|Tomb of ’Bonnie Dundee’|
But that is not what has been the most penetrating legacy of this first period of rebellion. That claim rests with the Glencoe MacDonalds who, having been a handful of days late in signing their allegiance to King William, were slaughtered by the Campbells who had been given billets, warmth and food, in MacDonald’s house. While cattle raiding feuds certainly fuelled the readiness the Campbells had to fulfil their orders, this act was to set the very low bar with which the new monarchy were going to treat those who had ever shown Jacobite tendencies.
Over the following fifty years, the Jacobite movement continued to push their cause, most notably in 1715 by attempting to reinstate the Stuart line in the form of James III when the House of Hanover were welcomed as the new Kings of the (newly formed in 1707) United Kingdoms. James’ sovereignty had already been acknowledged by several states and monarchs across Europe. Ultimately, poor leadership led to the collapse of what is seen as the second rebellion, and James III’s ship – in sight of his ancestral homeland – was turned back to the continent once more. He became known as The Old Pretender and, despite the best efforts of loyal men (many of whom were executed for such loyalty), The Old Pretender failed time and time again to gain a foothold in Britain.
George II ascended to the throne, pleased to be rid of his father. He was almost twenty years into his reign when the Jacobites suddenly took the offensive once again. In the Summer of 1745, unannounced and totally unexpected by the monarchy and the parliament, James III’s son, Charles Edward Stuart, arrived at Glenfinnan and unfurled the Royal Standard. This was no longer a rebellion, this had become an invasion.
It didn’t take long for the charismatic Bonnie Prince Charlie (dubbed The Young Pretender by the government forces) to amass an army, and he was drawing men from almost all the clans. He was well-prepared and well-funded and, although the history books try to remember it slightly differently, Prince Charles was not only a viable but a credible threat to the rule of Hanover. His army marched onward, first to Edinburgh, then through Carlisle, and into Derby. George II’s army had continually tried to repel the rebels but, as the Jacobites continued to advance, King George was reputed to have ordered his household to prepare to quit London and flee to the continent.
Then it all went wrong and, no matter what the aftermath declared, it went wrong from the inside. Bickering broke out amongst the Jacobite generals, and homesickness drove discontentment within the ranks. Despite having Hanover on the ropes, Charles bowed to the wishes of his men and they began the long retreat northwards. At this point, it had become clear that the cause was over, but they were hounded through northern England and southern Scotland by Cumberland. In a final stand, more an act of defiance than a hope at returning the throne to his father, the Jacobites faced the Hanoverians on Drumossie Moor, close to the settlement of Culloden. It was a shambles from beginning to end, with some of the Jacobite generals refusing to fight. The famous Highland Charge, which had won wars in the past, was obliterated by the government guns as the soldiers attempted the run over the boggy terrain. Though some broke through the government’s first rank, the day – and the Jacobite claim to the throne – was lost.
|Cairn of the Dead, Drumossie Moor, Culloden|
What followed in the Highlands was a game of cat and mouse between Cumberland and Charles. Through the incredible depth of loyalty which the Jacobites had for their young pretender, they risked everything to see him safely back to the continent where he lived out his live in exile. He continued attempting to raise the standard and was finally thrown out of France for trying to secure more and more money for the Jacobite cause. But eventually he became embittered and a drunk, reminiscing no doubt each of those days when he had come so close to setting his father on the throne which should rightfully have been his.
Cumberland ravaged the Highlands in his search. Parliament passed the appalling Act of Proscription, which made aspects of the Highland culture outlawed. Bill after bill continued to be passed, including the Treason Outlawries which gave way for anyone even suspected of housing or helping Jacobites to be arrested and executed. Highland dress was banned, except for with government military ranks, and the same applied to the bagpipes. Clan chiefs were stripped of their rights, and all power reverted to London. This was the end of the Highland culture.
Many years later, Walter Scott would reinvent the perception of the Highlander. He gave us what we know accept as history, and promoted the Jacobite cause in his writing. He was instrumental in bringing George IV to Edinburgh in 1822, and it was he who promoted the wearing of tartan to the king. During the nineteenth century, the Jacobite movement became legendary. They were heroes of the past with whom everyone wanted to find a link. They became highly romanticised, most particularly the figure of Flora MacDonald (who, in the real history, was a dutiful daughter when she was ordered to journey with Prince Charles) became a headstrong woman who volunteered to singlehandedly help the Bonnie Prince escape.
Somewhere in between the exile of Charles Edward Stuart and the promotion of Highland culture once more, people struggled to live in the Highlands. The devastating annihilation of Jacobite sympathisers and the horrendous cruelty of the clearances left the Highlands empty and lifeless. But, in truth, they only lay dormant. Because the Highlanders have a grit unlike anywhere else and, just perhaps, there is something which sleeps in the hills. Something bigger than kings and queens, and more enduring than the houses of Stuart and Hanover… that’s where Caledon fits in!
Virginia grew up in Orkney, using the breath-taking scenery to fuel her imagination and the writing fire within her. Her favourite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, sometimes mixing the two together. She enjoys swashbuckling stories such as The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and is still waiting for a screen adaption that lives up to the book!
When she's not writing, Virginia is usually to be found teaching music. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, especially as a tool of inspiration. She also helps out with the John o' Groats Book Festival which is celebrating its 4th year.
She now lives in the far-flung corner of Scotland. A doting spaniel-owner to Orlando and Jess, Virginia soaks up in inspiration from the landscape as she ventures out with her canine companions.
She loves cheese, music, and films, but hates mushrooms.
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