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Re: Red Douglas and Black Douglas

At 09:45 PM 06/12/01 EST, Susan Grady wrote:
>       Is it true that the Black Douglas and the Red Douglas are descended 
>from Africans?
>       On December 5 a second letter appeared in the Washington Post about 
>this subject.  This is what it states:
>>                                                  Called by Their Colors
>>Eric Daughtry's claim that African blood is accountable for Scottish
>>made me roll my eyes [letters, Dec. 1].  The Black Douglas and the Red 
>>Douglas were not clans but individuals, one with red hair and one with
>>black. Referring to someone thus in terms of his hair color is an old
>>in English and has nothing to do with skin color.  Such references 
>>survived well into more modern times.
>>  Mary E. Butler
>>  Ellicott City, Maryland
>       If anyone can tell me why the Black Douglas and the Red Douglas have 
>these names, I would appreciate it very much.

Hi Susan,

Well I do hope that Ms Butler didn't roll her eyes _too_ much!
Herewith from the pages of "The Saint-Clairs of the Isles" is a bit about
The Black Douglas (although I admit the origins of the name are not tackled
in perhaps as much depth as you desire within the passage, but thought it
might be of some interest):
Next to Prince Henry Saint Clair succeeded his eldest sone Henry, second of
the name.  He was in nothing inferior to his predecessors.  He married
Giles Dowglass, daughter to the most valiant Sir William Dowglass, sone to
Archibald, Earle of Dowglass and Lord of Galloway, who for his valour at
Carlisle .  .  .  .  got in marriage the fair Algidia, excelling all in her
time, grand-daughter to King Robert the Second, surnamed Stewart, of whose
beauty it is reported that it did so dazzle the eyes of the beholders that
they became presently astonished, but revived in admiring the same.  
<more stuff about what a gorgeous bird she was snipped>  
In further reference to her parentage Tytler has: "Sir William Douglas,
Lord of Nithsdale: This young knight appears to have been the Scottish
Paladin of those days of chivalry.  His form and strength were almost
gigantic, and what gave a peculiar charm to his warlike prowess was the
extreme gentleness of his manners; sweet, brave, and generous, he was as
faithful to his friends as he was terrible to his enemies.  These qualities
had gained him the hand of the King's daughter Egidia,  a lady of such
beauty that the King of France is said to have fallen in love with her from
the description of his courtiers [see? Love on the Internet's nothing
new!], and to have privately despatched a painter into Scotland to buy him
her picture, when he found to his disappointment that the princess had
already disposed of her hand in her own country."  The Lord of Nithsdale
was known as "The Black Douglas," and on the borders English nurses would
hush their children by saying, "The Black Douglas comes," "The Black
Douglas will get thee."  He married the Lady Algidia in 1387, and
immediately set out for Dantzig to assist Waldenrodt, Grand Master of the
Teutonic Knights, against the then pagan Prussians under Udislaus Jagello.
For his conspicuous services he was made Prince of Danesvick, Duke of
Spruce, and Admiral of the Fleet, while the Scots were made for ever free
citizens of that town.  In 1390 Sir William was foully murdered on the
ancient bridge of Dantzig by a band of assassins employed by Lord Clifford,
who had insulted him, and yet dreaded to meet him in mortal combat.  By his
wife he left a daughter known in the encomiastic language of the age as
"The Fair Maid of Nithsdale."


Ian Newman
in Western Australia
where men are men,
- and grasshoppers are bigger'n Texas!
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