The Old Trojan, Donald MacLeod, the Laird of Unish and Bernera, was the final of his sort. A chieftain and commander of his clan throughout the Jacobite Rebellions, he defied his personal chief and introduced his MacLeods “out” for the Stuarts in 1715 and 1745. A noble descendant of the mighty Norse founders of the Clan MacLeod, Domnhuill mac Iain mac Tormod i’c Leoid—Donald, son of John, son of Norman MacLeod—was a Scottish warrior and chief with out peer. Cast within the mould of the medieval Viking warlords who conquered the islands of Scotland’s Western Hebrides, Donald MacLeod earned the epithet of The Old Trojan on the battlefields of Sheriff Muir, Falkirk, and Culloden. In his lengthy life of eighty-plus years, The Old Trojan married thrice, had twenty-six youngsters, performed a task within the mysterious disappearance of Lady Grange, was concerned with the Ship of the People episode, and fought within the Seaweed Wars. Through all of it, The Old Trojan witnessed and resisted the decline of the standard Scottish clan system because the rebellions strained then broke the traditional and conventional bonds between clansmen and clan chiefs. Largely set within the chaotic interval between the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the Battle of Culloden in 1746, this can be a vigorous account of one of the final of the Scottish warlords who would endlessly disappear with the approaching of the Highland Clearances. Readers within the historic Scottish clans of the Hebrides, particularly the MacLeods, will discover on this novel a gripping story, primarily based on actual individuals and occasions, of these chaotic occasions.
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On the sixteenth April 1746 the final battle to happen within the British Isles was fought on the windswept open land of Drumossie Moor; extra generally generally known as Culloden, some 4 miles from the city of Inverness in Scotland. Prince William Augustus, the third son of the Hanoverian King William II – the Duke of Cumberland and shortly to be termed ‘The Butcher’ – and his numerically superior and much better outfitted and provided Hanoverian Army of the Crown confronted the ragged, demoralised and ravenous insurgent forces of the Jacobite Charles Edward Stuart [commonly known as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ or, more satirically, ‘the Young Pretender’] within the final engagement of ‘The Jacobite Rebellion’. The quick battle that ensued and the horrific atrocities that adopted marked the efficient finish of the Stuart try to re-establish itself on the throne of the ‘United Kingdom’ and the tip of an historical approach of life within the Scottish Highlands.
The younger George Keppell, Lord Bury, a senior determine within the Hanoverian military, rode forward of the traces shortly earlier than the beginning of the battle. in his really glorious and magisterial guide. ‘Culloden’, John Prebble, the author, describes what the younger Lord Bury noticed of the enemy as he peered by the mist:
”What he [Lord Bury] noticed, throughout the heather and thru the sleet, was the final feudal military to assemble in Britain. He can have felt no extra kinship with it than an officer of Victoria’s military would later really feel when surveying a Zulu impi or a tribe of Pathans. To an Englishman of the eighteenth century, and to most Lowland Scots; the Highlands of Scotland have been a distant and ugly area peopled by barbarians who spoke an obscure tongue [Gaelic], who wearing skins or bolts of part-coloured fabric, and who equated honour with cattle – stealing and homicide. The savagery with which the Lowland Scots and the English have been to suppress the Rebellion is partly defined by this perception, it being a standard assumption amongst civilised males that brutality is pardonable when exercised upon these they contemplate to be uncivilised.”
Standing going through him, some 2 hundred paces paces distant, his feared and far prized claymore, known as ”The Lamb” digging into the damp and peaty moss of the moor at his ft and on the head of the individuals of his clan – his ”youngsters” – stood Donald MacLeod, Laird of Bernera, an eagle’s feather and a sprig of juniper in his bonnet to indicate his clan, 4 sq., large and fearsome; over six ft tall in his stockinged ft. A person already dubbed ‘The Old Trojan’ for his combating talent, prowess and bravado. At the time of Culloden he was fifty 4 years of age – already a decent age for the circumstances and occasions – he was a person well-known, feared and revered within the Highlands and islands of the north. He is on the head of some 100 males of his clan MacLeod [‘clan’ meaning ‘children’] . In a number of moments he’ll increase the MacLeod clan warcry of ”Creag an tuire! Beàrnaruigh na Hearadn!” and lead his clansmen to their destruction by the hands of the artillery, muskets and bayonets of the Hanoverian military; this in defiance of his personal Chief, ”The MacLeod’ and estranged from his personal oldest son, Norman; each of whom are occupying excessive rank within the opposing Hanoverian forces. This, it should be harassed, isn’t solely a rise up looking for a change of ruling dynasty, but additionally a bitter civil warfare dividing households and splitting loyalties. MacLeod, actually, had been ‘out’ earlier than on behalf of the exiled Stuarts and ‘The Old Pretender – father of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ within the earlier rise up of 1715, and far good had it completed him on that event both.
‘The Last Trojan’ by D.G. MacDougall brings to the reader the story, the biography, of a rare man, Donald MacLeod, Laird of Bernera. The story of this man, at occasions vainglorious, boastful and smug, however at all times fearless, decided, valiant and fierce in defence of his individuals, his homeland and his inheritance. This depiction of the person burns with an intense gentle and warmth by the intervening centuries! MacDougall writes with fierce pleasure about his topic. He is, in any case, writing about a person he got here throughout while researching his personal ancestry and who instantly clamoured for his consideration. All of the narrative and plenty of of the descriptions of occasions and incidents within the lengthy, eventful and busy life of Donald MacLeod do fall inside the parameters of historic fiction, however ”The final Trojan” is basically a biography, and a effective one at that.
MacDougall presents the reader with a finely drawn portrait of a rare man who was at one and the identical time a effective instance of a Highland Chief in all his splendour and glory and in addition a person ‘out of his occasions’; in a way a ‘dwelling dinosaur’ and an excellent instance of an historical breed and authority that may quickly change into extinct! ‘Domhnull mac Iain’ , as Donald MacLeod was named at beginning, was born in 1692 and lived till 1781 – a really unimaginable lifespan of eighty 9 energetic years that encompassed and witnessed profound and traumatic modifications in Scotland and to the Scottish approach of life. He married thrice and had a multiplicity of youngsters together with his first and third spouse – so many youngsters, grandchildren and so forth, that they grew to become generally known as ‘the tribe of Bernera’; Bernera being his beloved household island and residential.
”Early eighteenth century Scotland was altering quickly. [writes MacDougall] ‘The Union of Crowns’ [the linking of the Crowns of England and Scotland in 1707] below the Hanoverian Kings, and legal guidelines it later enacted – like that requiring the Highland chiefs to ship their sons to the Lowlands or England for his or her schooling – have been eroding the standard bonds between Chiefs and clansmen. Many Chiefs have been spending much less time on their Highland estates, selecting to stay semi-permanently in Edinburgh, Glasgow and particularly London. The Chiefs have been turning into more and more anglicised, preferring the genteel society and comfy properties of Mayfair and Piccadilly to the impolite and tough castles and fortified homes of their ancestors within the Highlands and islands. But this grand life-style within the south required cash – heaps of it – and the Chiefs have been squeezing their Factors [agents and administrative officers] and tenants for ever extra chilly onerous money……”
In different phrases, the traditional binding ties of household and kinship, the legends and traditions, that had existed for hundreds of years; the sometimes mystical seeming bonds of household and custom that had joined the Chief to his individuals, his ‘clan’ [children] have been swiftly being eroded because the chiefs grew to become more and more and ruthlessly intent on extracting income from their ancestral lands. The good instance of that is the celebrated case of ‘the seaweed warfare’ of 1765 – 1771 and the rights to personal and farm seaweed and its product of ‘kelp’ when burned. Kelp, actually produced wealthy by-products of soda, potash and iodine, and even gunpowder. The impoverished crofters who collected and burned the seaweed used kelp to fertilise their bitter and arid fields. It was equally prized by the brand new industrial manufacturing centres of Glasgow and Manchester within the creation of such commodities as glass and cleaning soap. Sir Alexander of Sleat, a basic chief and ‘baddie’ of the time [a man ”if not wholly English, at least entirely anti – Celtic”], realising that promoting kelp to the producers was a invaluable supply of earnings, trespassed on lands belonging to MacLeod in search of the extremely prized kelp. In earlier occasions, Macleod would have gone into battle, swinging ‘Lamb’, his beloved six foot claymore in opposition to the trespassers. Such is the altering nature of the time that as an alternative of drawing the blood of his enemy, he efficiently pursued him within the Courts. We have, actually, already encountered this self similar Sir Alexander of Sleat on an earlier and much more notorious incident; a mass kidnapping and eviction – the celebrated ‘Ship of the People’.
In the primary occasion, the chiefs raised income by draconian and eye watering rises in land lease after which by the precise enforced elimination and eviction of tenants; to get replaced by revenue yielding sheep and cattle. In time [from the mid eighteenth to the early nineteenth century] this is able to consequence within the really coronary heart rending interval of ‘The Highland Clearances’: the ”Fuadaichean nan Gàsheal” [literally ‘the eviction of the Gaels’] Increasingly, tenants have been thought of now not because the chief’s ‘youngsters’ however as ‘ineffective mouths’.
MacLeod’s embracing of the Jacobite trigger, in 1715 and, extra considerably, in 1745 was in a really actual sense a want, an try, to ‘flip again the clock’ and to return to the beloved previous methods of life. A return to the life of the warrior slightly than the cash grubbing sheep farmer. There have been two important additional nails within the coffin of the clan system – each of them Acts of Parliament handed in Westminster. These, each handed in 1746, have been the ‘Heritable Jurisdiction Act’ that disadvantaged chiefs of their authority over their clans and ‘the Act of Proscription’ whereby the carrying of the kilt and the taking part in of the bagpipes was expressly forbidden. within the succesful arms of D.G. MacDougal, the reader is led by the intensely eventful life of Donald MacLeod. It is simple to see why the author grew to become so struck by him for he’s really a large, nearly Shakespearean, determine. A key speech in ‘Julius Caesar’ may nearly have been written for him:
”He doth bestride the slim world
Like a Colossus and we petty males
Walk below his big legs and peep about
To discover ourselves dishonourable graves”
Thus we learn an entrancing narrative of the younger Donald MacLeod, feuding and brawling by the islands and within the 1715 Rebellion, a person grown mature [though no less proud and headstrong] on the coronary heart of the storm of the ’45’ and its bitter aftermath, his involvement within the very unusual case of the kidnapping of Lady Grange, the horrible pressured eviction and kidnap of individuals by Sir Alexander of Sleat and Norman MacLeod – ”Soitheach na Daoine” – ‘the ship of the individuals’. [Norman MacLeod, titular Chief of Clan MacLeod, would forever be known as ”an Duine Aingidh” – ‘the wicked man’ for his part in the affair and Donald MacLeod would also forever be estranged from his own eldest son Norman for the part that he played in this ignoble event – as well as for his active support of the Hanoverians in the ’45]. Donald MacLeod would at all times be recognized and revered for his energetic and militant protection of his individuals’s rights – the ‘duthchas” [the link between a chief and his people] in ‘the seaweed warfare.’ Readers of ”The final Trojan” are very strongly really helpful to have handy a reasonably complete map of the bodily geography of Scotland and the Highlands and islands in an effort to make sense of the situation of MacLeod’s properties and his many meanderings, significantly after the battle of Culloden. The lack of any map within the guide itself is to be regretted. Nonetheless, this guide is an engrossing, entrancing and totally pleasing learn. D.G. MacDougall is to be congratulated.
In his conclusion, the writer writes:
”The Old Trojan’s life story immediately grabbed me. At first I used to be merely curious in regards to the origin of his uncommon nickname. But the deeper I delved into his life and occasions I realised that Donald MacLeod’s wonderful story was richer and extra advanced than Trojan like valor in battle. I got here to understand that Donald MacIan’s life journey straddled two important epochs in Scottish historical past; his experiences on earth marked the demise of the traditional clan system and the rise of the agro-industrial financial system that resulted within the Highland Clearances……. He was the final of the old-style Highland chieftains; a real patriarch and clan chief that cared extra for his individuals and their conventional methods than getting cash.”
“The Old Trojan” by D. G. MacDougall receives 4.5 stars from The Historical Fiction Company