James Graham, 5th Earl of Montrose, is one of the most controversial and romantic figures in Scottish history. He is famous for having fought first for the Covenanters and later against them, for the King.
This biography shows that he was constant in his beliefs and heroic in his principled moderation in spite of the evidence of his cruelty and depradations.
It also examines his capacity as a soldier, his inspired leadership of the fierce Highland clansmen and his brilliant military strategy in partnership with the renowned Alastair MacColla.
This is the first paperback edition of the definitive biography of Montrose. The critics acclaimed it on publication in hardback as follows:
The Times: "A detached and extremely full biography... "
The Observer: "Ronald William's book... stands as the best account of the matter."
Aberdeen Press and Journal: "Fully satisfying... a masterly and dramatic account... a very fine book indeed."
Oxford Times: "An excellent study. Ronald Williams has a rare gift for describing battles in detail, as well as presenting with clarity... a highly complex chapter of history and the characters of the men who made it."
Lady Christian Hesketh: Of Montrose's astonishing campaign of 1644-1645... no account could be better."
High praise indeed - and fully justified.
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FROM CHAPTER 9:
"... He [Montrose] had been in hiding six days in all when he got definite news of the Irish at Atholl, and was characteristically prompt to seize this last chance of the hour. He put the King's commission in his pocket and retrieved the royal standard from the lining of his saddle. Then, assuming Highland dress, in plaid and trews, with a targe on his arm, his broadsword and a sprig of oats in his bonnet, he set off with Black Pate to walk the twenty miles or so over the hills to Atholl - and got there in time to save the situation by a hairsbreadth.
Alastair [MacColla] had received Montrose's message, and guided by a Clanranald man - Donald the Fair - he marched south to Atholl and seized the castle there. Then all he could do was to wait upon events. But the local clans - Stuarts and Robertsons - who lived in the valleys of the Garry and the Tummel had no cause to love the Irish, and banded together to resist him. The two forces confronted each other across the red waters of the Tilt, and although some Badenoch men and Donald Robertson, the Tutor of Struan, tried to mediate between them, the situation grew steadily worse.
By 29 August matters had come to a head. The Athollmen were no Covenanters but they had an inalienable right to protect their land against any party who intruded upon it, and this territorial instinct urged them on from mutterings to threats, open hostility and ultimately to shake their weapons in grim earnest. But for their part the Irish were too desperate and too far gone to yield their ground. The women and children were ragged and near starvation, outlandish, and wild-eyed from travel. The men were lean and wolfish, and past hope of safety. Even Alastair himself was resigned. Destruction seemed inevitable, and the war band prepared itself to fight to the finish.
It may have seemed an inauspicious beginning, but it had the qualities of high drama..."