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Antoine de la Bastie, the real-life hero behind these books

Updated: May 17

The hero of The Trail of Blood is based on the real-life historical figure, Antoine de la Bastie. He was, by all accounts, a very honourable man who was an outstanding tournament jouster (known as “the White Knight”) in France before fighting in the Italian Wars and being captured by the Venetians at the Battle of Agnadello in 1509.

Knights fighting at the Battle of Agnadello in 1509

 After his release, he became a regular visitor to Scotland, to promote the Auld Alliance with France. In particular, he supported the Duke of Albany’s bid for power, after the disaster of Flodden.

Albany “rewarded” him by making him Warden of the Marches but he only lasted a year or so in the job before the Humes murdered him, near Duns, in 1517. I grew up very close to the site of his killing (now marked by a monument in a remote field), and have always felt he deserved a happier ending. So I’ve reinvented him (borrowing the surname Lissieu from one of his landholdings) and resurrected him as a master sleuth, rather than as a victim. My intention is to ignore his own murder in 1517 and give him plenty of other crimes to solve in the wild landscape of the Borders.

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