The Royal Bride '“ a shock is in store for battle hero Andrew

Wilson's Tales of the Borders is a collection of almost 500 stories celebrating our history, legends and people. Serialised in the Berwick Advertiser from the 1830s, it became a best-selling series. The Wilson's Tales Project is retelling the stories.

Friday, 2nd November 2018, 14:15 pm
The Royal Bridal - illustration by Sheila Vickers.

PREVIOUSLY: As crowds gather for the marriage of Princess Margaret of England to King James IV of Scotland, a stranger wins the wrestling. Later, he wins a friendly bout with Eyemouth fisherman Andrew. The stranger takes a shine to Andrew’s beloved Janet, the men come to blows, and the stranger threatens revenge.

Heralded by cannon from Berwick, Princess Margaret and the English procession approached Lamberton Moor. King James rode in black velvet, fine satin, crimson edging, precious stones and gold spurs to meet his bride. Entering Lamberton Kirk and seeing that reports of her beauty were true, he dropped to one knee and kissed her hand.

After the ceremony they walked to the royal pavilion to watch a tournament. But the action was too formal for King James. He left, saying: “I must put spirit into this.”

Within minutes, the Savage Knight appeared, face hidden by a visor, with a javelin and spear. He fought and beat three knights.

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As he passed where Andrew and Janet stood, his visor slipped and Andrew said: “If it isn’t the very chiel I clouted in your mother’s! He’s no more a knight than I am!”

Meanwhile, the main event was about to begin: a no-quarter battle between Borderers and Highlanders, with a gold purse for the bravest. As the herald asked for a Borderer, Andrew stepped forward. Here was his chance to make his fortune and marry.

Borrowing a knight’s sword, he was the hero of a savage fight. Men went down injured or dying, several to Andrew, as Highlander after Highlander fell to his sword. The King signalled an end to the slaughter as the home crowd roared “Eyemouth yet!” and “Wha’s like Andrew!”

Summoned to the King, Andrew approached with his head down. “Look up, brave cock o’ the Borders!” said King James. “You must have an ugly face if you need to hide it after showing such heart and arm.” Andrew raised his head and the king recoiled: “Traitor!”

Recognising the stranger he had wrestled, Andrew exclaimed: “I’m a done man!” He was gone like a startled deer, sword in hand, disappearing into the sea-banks. The King’s men were told to search until they found him, while the King left for Edinburgh.

Many were puzzled by the King’s treatment of a hero: “It bangs all! We’re sure

Andrew never saw the King before. He was never 10 miles out of Eyemouth in his life. The King must be mistaken.”

Janet struggled to her mother’s home. She wept, as witnesses reported that the King had demanded Andrew be brought before him “dead or alive”.

NEXT WEEK: Chained for life…

Retold by Fordyce Maxwell, adapted by Joe Lang and illustrated by Sheila Vickers. Read the unabridged story and historic background in Volume 5 of the Wilson’s Tales Revival Edition

(£8.50), on sale at Berwick bookshops or at