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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Friday 15 September 2023

The Flowers of Chivalry

 The Bruce is dead, and a child king is on the throne. It was one of the most dangerous times, internally and externally, for any medieval kingdom. This is the setting for Flowers of Chivalry, the latest in my bedtime Nigel Tranter re-reading project.

In this book, Tranter returns to a favourite technique of telling the story through a lesser-known figure close to the main action, often from his Lothian home. In this case, Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalwolsey a local noble who was one of the more effective Scots knights of the period. Having a child king is less dangerous when there is a strong Regent. However, the book starts with the death of Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, one of the last living close comrades of Robert the Bruce.

David II succeeded to the throne at the age of five. After Moray's death, Scotland was ruled by a series of less-than-effective regents. Edward III took advantage of this by invading and putting Edward Baliol on the throne. He put his governor in charge when he failed to counter the inevitable insurgency. Following the English victory at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333, David was evacuated to France, where he remained in exile until it was safe for him to return to Scotland in 1341.

The book covers the period up to his return in 1341 when he took back the throne. Although the wars with England continued, they merged with the Hundred Years War. Scotland was allied to France, and at least the fighting on the continent distracted Edward III long enough to give Scotland the occasional breathing space.

This is a lesser-known period of Scottish history, told in the typical Tranter style. Ramsay arguably did the most with Sir William Douglas to save David's throne and keep Scotland independent. There were a few set-piece battles, but again, this was a period of small wars well suited to refighting on the tabletop with rules like Lion Rampant.

Some of my 28mm Scottish infantry of the period

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