Medieval Kings of Scotland and their Times


Duncan I, 1034-40
Duncan became overking of Scotland on 25 November 1034, on the death of his grandfather, Malcolm II.  The early part of his reign is obscure, but he seems to have succeeded the kings of Strathclyde by 1020.  In 1039 he led an army to besiege Durham in which he lost a great part of his cavalry and all his infantry, their heads being used to top stakes in the market place.  This failure, possibly weakened his royal power and allowed Earl Siward of Northumberland (d.1055) to take Bamburgh castle and kill Earl Eadulf the next year, 1040.  The same year King Duncan marched against his dux, or warleader, Macbeth (Magfinloech).  The result was a battle on 14 August 1040 at Bothnagowan which is now Pitgaveny, near Elgin, where he was killed after a reign of just 6 years, being buried in Elgin.  Later he was translated to Iona.  Duncan was killed while still a young man, possibly in his early 40s and leaving 2 young sons who would succeed him in turn in due course.


Macbeth, 1040-57
Macbeth may also have been a grandson of King Malcolm II (d.1034).  The early twelfth century Peterborough Chronicle states that Macbeth was a king in 1031 when he submitted with King Malcolm III (d.1034) and King Iehmarc after an invasion by King Cnut of England (d.1035).  Macbeth assumed the Scottish throne on killing his predecessor and possible cousin, Duncan I and then reigned for 17 years.  His reign may have been relatively peaceful, as in 1050 he was in Rome handing out charity, although the Durham annals notes that in 1046 Earl Siward with a great army went to Scotland and expelled King Macbeth, yet not long afterwards he recovered his kingship.  This probably marks the battle dated to 1045 in the Irish Annales where Crinan of Dunkeld, the father of King Duncan I (d.1040), tried and failed to topple Macbeth, paying with his life as well possibly with that of his other son, Maldred of Allerdale.

In 1052 Macbeth meddled in English affairs, receiving the fugitives Osbern Pentecost of Ewias Harold and Hugh, possibly of Howton, into his service.  It may be as a consequence of this that in 1054 Earl Siward of Northumbria invaded his realm and damaged the king's power, apparently killing 3,000 Scots for the loss of 1,500 of his own men in a battle much later claimed to have been fought at Dunsinnan in Perthshire, allegedly on 27 July 1054.  Among Macbeth's casualties were Osbern and Hugh from the Welsh Marches as well as ‘
the best men of Scotland'.

Much has been misunderstood about this affair from the later writings of William Malmesbury.  Just a glance at Wikipedia can confirm this.  Malmesbury wrote his history before the death of King David in 1153, and was particularly favourable to him and his claim to Cumberland and Northumberland.  Before 1157 these 2 areas had been a part of Scotland since 1136/38 and intermittently before that time.  William elsewhere in his chronicle noted that a Scottish King Malcolm had been granted Cumberland in 945.  Amongst several summing ups he generally comments that during the reign of King Edward (1042-66):

Siward of the Northumbrians, who, by his [King Edward's] order, fought with the Scottish King Macbeth, depriving him of his life and his kingdom; and there he established Malcolm, the son of the king of the Cumbrians, as king.

It is quite plain from this, that this event was no attack upon Strathclyde as some would have it, but a condensed precis of events between the first invasion of Scotland by Siward in 1054 and Macbeth's death in 1057.  Earl Siward's son died in the campaign and Siward himself died in 1055 at York, some 2 years before Macbeth.  His death makes it rather difficult for him to have killed Macbeth as Malmesbury's summary has it.  Obviously 1054 and 1057 were different events.  Siward quite possibly died from dysentery contracted during the 1054 campaign which led him to a lingering death ‘like a cow' as reported by Henry Huntingdon.  The Durham annals specifically state:

Siward routed Macbeth and placed Malcolm as king, but died the following year at York, being succeeded by Tosti as earl.

Therefore Macbeth continued his reign unabated after the death of Siward, until Malcolm attacked him again 3 years later.

It seems quite likely that Malcolm, again, was not acting alone, but had Northumbrian troops with him.  A near contemporary source written before 1074 obviously relates to the fall of Macbeth between 1054 and 1057.

...the king of Scots, Barbarus by name... was first conquered by Earl Siward, with the almost total annihilation of his men and put to shameful flight.  Secondly, when Earl Tosti controlled the earldom [of Northumberland] and the Scots thought him inexperienced.... the aforesaid earl destroyed him [Macbeth] by both prudent strategy and warlike valour, in a hostile expedition without loss of men, so that [the Scots] with their king chose rather to serve than to rebel against him and King Edward.  And to ratify this they also gave hostages.

It is generally accepted that in 1057 the forces of Duncan I's eldest son, Malcolm, advanced rapidly against Macbeth, who had retired northwards to the more defensible heartlands of his realm.  According to Fordun, who made use of original works which are no longer extant, Malcolm came upon Macbeth when he had only a few men with him and slew him and those few men who resisted near Lumphanan on 5 December 1056 [recte 1057].  This suggests that Macbeth had lost authority in the south and was not prepared for a winter attack.  After this Fordun repeats verbatim the same sentence that is quoted above from Malmesbury, possibly trying to reconcile these 2 separate tales.

Later tradition states that Macbeth was beheaded on a bolder lying some 1,000' south-west of Lumphanan castle, while modern research suggests that Macbeth won his last battle, but succumbed to his wounds the next day.  He was probably still a relatively young man at the time of his death, being at least 47.  Shakespeare's Macbeth bears little resemblance to reality and less to real history.


Lulach, 1057-58
The stepson of Macbeth attempted to step into his shoes, being crowned at Scone presumably on hearing of Machbeth's death.  According to Fordun, although Malcolm had been reigning since the death of Macbeth, or possibly even before, he spent the 4 subsequent months chasing Lulach and his followers around the mountains before catching up with him and killing him at Essie (Essy) in Strathbogie (Strathbolgy) on 3 April 1057.  Two Irish sources state that Lulach was either ‘treacherously killed' or killed in battle, while Melrose states he reigned just 4½ months.  Lulach, who was at least 28, did leave a young son, who Malcolm III attacked in 1078, seizing his mother and his treasure and forcing Maelslaehtan to flee for his life.  At this Maelslaehtan probably took up the religious life and died ‘happy', possibly in Ireland in 1085.


Malcolm III, 1058-93
The killer of Macbeth and then Lulach, Malcolm III's reign is supposed to have begun in 1058, which would accord with Macbeth beating him in his last battle at Lumphanan in 1057.  Malcolm is stated by Fordun to have been crowned at Scone on 25 April 1057, which was some 22 days after his killing of Lulach.  The fighting was certainly all over by 1059 when Malcolm was conducted by Archbishop Kinsi of York, Bishop Ethelwin of Durham and Earl Tosti to see King Edward (1042-66).

It is unknown where Malcolm resided after his father's death, but Fordun writing probably in the 1370s thought that Malcolm had fled to Cumberland and his Uncle Donald had gone to the Isles.   However, it is generally supposed that Malcolm spent at least part of his exile in England mainly due to Fordun's chapter on the return of Malcolm to Scotland and the battle in which Macbeth was killed.  Yet his first wife was apparently Ingibjorg the daughter Fin Amuson of Orkney, which may suggest he sheltered in the North.  By her he is supposed to have had 3 children, Duncan III (d.1094), Donald (d.1085) and Malcolm.  She was dead, or put aside, by 1067 when Malcolm married Margaret, the granddaughter of King Edmund Ironside (d.1016), who had fled from William the Conqueror (1066-87). 

The year 1072 saw King William I (1066-87) invade Scotland and meet Malcolm at Abernethy where Malcolm ‘became his man'.  In 1080 King William sent his son, Robert Curthose (d.1134), to punish Malcolm for further raids into England.  After Malcolm submitted again there was a prolonged period of peace between the 2 realms.

In 1091 Queen Margaret's brother, Edgar Aetheling (d.1125+), fled to Scotland starting off another round of warfare.  King Malcolm advanced to the River Tweed to besiege Newcastle, but retired as King William Rufus (1087-1100) advanced against him.  This soon led to terms and a cessation of hostilities.  In 1092 Rufus annexed Cumberland, but this was probably not linked to the king denying Malcolm the English estates granted to him by William I (d.1087).  According to the Peterborough chronicle, compiled in the late 1110s, Malcolm, asking redress, left the king's entourage in Gloucester, having been denied access to the king.  He returned home and promptly invaded Northumberland ‘with greater folly than behoved him'.  He ravaged the province and when returning home on 13 November was ambushed and killed near Alnwick (Inber-Alda in Saxonland) by Earl Robert Mowbray and allegedly [Arkil] Morel, the steward of Bamburgh.  Only Fordun states that he advanced as far as Richmond and was killed besieging Alnwick or Murealden castle as it was otherwise known, being killed by a traitor from the castle who offered Malcolm the keys of the fortress and then stabbed the unarmed king with his spear, on which the castle keys were hung, before fleeing to the woods.  Forden then went on to say that the killer stabbed the king through the eye and thus had the name Peirce Eye or Percy as it is now known.  Obviously this tale is fanciful and aimed at the Percys.  As such it could well be fourteenth century in origin.  The more contemporary Melrose states simply that Malcolm was slain and his son Edward killed by a spear.

Malcolm's wife, St Margaret, is said to have died in Edinburgh castle soon after hearing the news of the death of Malcolm and their son Edward.  Of their children 4 of the surviving sons would become kings, while their daughters, Matilda/Edith and Mary, married King Henry I of England (1100-35) and Count Eustace of Boulogne (d.1125).

It is noticeable that the royal couple staked a claim to the English Crown with the names of their children.  The first was Edward, then Edmund, Ethelred and Edgar - Margaret's direct male ancestors and all kings of England.  Their daughter Edith was probably born around the same time as these children, although her name was later changed to Matilda.  It was presumably only after better relations were established with William I in 1080 that the names of their subsequent children became less threatening to the new Norman ruling family of England.  Their last 3 children were Alexander, Mary and David - all biblical names.  Malcolm was at least 68 at the time of his death, having been active in the Clyde region from before 1040.


Donald III, 1093-94
With the death of Malcolm and his heir designate, Edward, in 1093, Donald Bane, Malcolm's brother, was chosen king and expelled Malcolm's other children and the English from his realm.  Fordun alleges this occurred after Malcolm's children were besieged in Edinburgh castle.  In May 1094, Duncan, Malcolm's son by his first wife, Ingibjorg, invaded Scotland with the blessing of William Rufus (1087-1100) and what English and Norman support he could gather together with his half nephew, Edmund (d.1102+).  Donald presumably withdrew in the face of this onslaught apparently after just 6 months on the throne, although the compiled Melrose gives him a reign of a year and a half.


Duncan II, 1094
Duncan's occupation of Scotland proved brief.  First a revolt saw many of his supporters killed and then in gaining a reconciliation with his rebellious subjects Duncan agreed to expel all his Norman and English followers and never have any more in his service.  It was probably towards the end of the same year that ‘the Scots trapped and killed Duncan their king', the killer apparently being Earl Malpeter/Malpedir of Mernis/Mornes and the place where he was killed Monatbethyn, possibly in Monteith.  It is possible that this Malpeter was actually Maelmuire the brother of Donald Bane and King Malcolm III (d.1093).  Regardless, the killing/blinding had been done through the instruction and instigation of Duncan's Uncle Donald Bane, who again assumed the kingship.  Duncan could have been as young as 28 at the time of his death.  The idea that he was illegitimate seems to have begun with William Malmesbury, the great admirer of King David (1124-53) and therefore historical enemy of the MacWilliams.  His William Fitz Duncan (d.1152/54), was apparently heir to King David (d.1153) for a while and then possibly earl of Moray as well as lord of various castles and lands in Cumberland as well as Skipton and Clitheroe castles.


Donald III, 1094-97
Apparently Donald had received help from his nephew, Edmund (d.1102+), in betraying King Duncan II.  Consequently Donald granted Edmund half his kingdom as a reward and the kinsmen ruled for a further 3 years before, after Michaelmas 1097, Edgar (d.1107) invaded with an army led by Edgar Aetheling (d.1125).  This invasion had the blessing of William Rufus (1087-1100).  The result was a fierce fight before King Donald was expelled from the land, King Edmund captured and King Edgar installed in their place.

Writing 20-40 years later, William Malmsbury (d.1143) thought Donald slain through the device of David, later King David (1124-53), but logic suggests that David was too young to have been involved in this fighting.  Some 2 centuries later it was thought that Donald was blinded and then imprisoned at Rescobie (Rescolpyne) by Forfar in Angus, where he died, his bones being taken to Iona.  His true fate may have been recorded in Ireland under the year 1099 where it was stated that King Donald MacDuncan of Scotland was blinded by his brother.  As Donald and Malcolm did have a brother, Maelmuire, who seems to have been the father of Earl Madach/Maddad of Atholl (d.1143+), this may well have been his fate, especially if Maelmuire was also the killer of King Duncan in 1094.  Donald left a son, Lodmund, who was killed by the men of Moray in 1116 and a daughter, Bethoc Bane, whose royal blood flowed into the Comyn line which claimed the Crown in the 1290s.  By 1099 Donald would have been at least 59.


Edgar, 1097-1107
Edgar appears to have begun his campaign against his uncle and brother in 1095 as that year he was mentioned in a charter as ‘the son of King Malcolm of Scots... who possessed the whole land of Lothian and the kingship of the Scots by the gift of my Lord King William of the English and by paternal heritage'.  The charter was otherwise witnessed by Edgar's brothers, Alexander and David, as well as Edgar Aetheling.  It is uncertain whether this charter is misdated or merely a boast of future conquest by these Scots.  Certainly by the end of 1097 Edgar was secure as king of Scots.

Edgar's reign appears to have been uneventful, although he seems to have come to an accommodation with King Magnus Barefoot of Norway concerning the latter's occupation of the Hebrides and Kintyre in 1098.  He founded Coldingham priory the same year and sought the help of Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury in reforming his mother's house of Dunfermline.  He died on 6 January 1107, being buried in Dunfermline abbey, aged over 33.


Alexander I, 1107-24
Alexander was heir designate to the Crown as early as 1104 and stepped easily into his brother's shoes on his death.  According to an agreement made between the brothers Edgar, Alexander, David and their brother in law, King Henry I of England, David was to be given an appendage of the Scottish kingdom on Edgar's death.  This was done and David became the prince of the Cumbrians under King Alexander I probably in 1113.  Sometime after his accession and before 1114 when Alexander campaigned in Wales for King Henry, Alexander married Henry's illegitimate daughter, Sibyl.  She died in July 1122 at Kenmore on Loch Tay and Alexander followed her to the grave just 2 years later in April 1124 at Stirling.  During his reign he founded abbeys at Scone and Inchcolm and intended to found another at St Andrews, granting the latter lands, but getting no further in his foundation.  He was probably around 46 at the time of his death and seems to have left an illegitimate son, Malcolm, who was incarcerated at Roxburgh in 1134.


David I, 1124-53
David was the last of the male children of King Malcolm III and Queen Margaret.  Possibly he was not born until 1090 and certainly did not witness any documents until 1095 when he was present at Durham with his elder brother, King Edgar (d.1107).  The earliest possible date he might have been born was soon after 1082, considering that Alexander was his elder brother and therefore should have been born after the 1080 agreement with William I (1066-87), when Malcolm seems to have stopped giving his children names used by the eclipsed English royal family.

It is worth here examining the way Wikipedia works as a warning to others.  There it is stated as fact that ‘David was born on a date unknown in 1084 in Scotland'.  For this it gives a reference of Oram, David, The King who made Scotland, p.49.  This seems a solid fact if people aren't aware of the fundamental disingenuity of Wiki.  A quick check on Oram's excellent book shows that the reference states no such thing, merely the guess that David must have been ‘aged between thirteen and fifteen' in 1098.  Such is obviously a guess and there is nothing in the reference given to substantiate the assertion that he was born in 1084 other than the fact that David began witnessing charters by 1095.  As there is evidence that charter witnesses might be as young as 5 this does not prove much as David must have been born by 1093 when his parents died.  All that can be realistically assessed is that David was born by 1093 and probably after 1080 if this is when the name changes in Malcolm's burgeoning family actually took place, as, for all we know, the couple may simply have become bored with giving their children the names of Margaret's ancestors.

David first comes to the fore in Scottish life on the death of his brother, Edgar, in 1107, when by the terms of his will the young man was to be given what has been called ‘the principality of the Cumbrians'.  David certainly held the title of princeps Cumbrensis.  His principality seemed to run from Renfrew on the Clyde south-west down nearly to Carlisle, then north-east, roughly along the current Scottish border, to Berwick where it followed the coast up to Dunbar and then skirted west along the south side of the current Lothian border back to Renfrew.  The heart of the principality therefore included Glasgow, Melrose and Roxburgh and had Selkirk near its centre.  There is no evidence that David had control of this area until late in the year 1113 when he founded Selkirk abbey, possibly on assuming the lordship.  Before this date it has been argued that he was in the service of Henry I in England and Normandy and acquiring his own personal followers from the lands Henry I granted him in the Cotentin and Hallamshire near Sandal castle.  These followers were to make up the new Norman aristocracy of Scotland, viz, Robert Bruce (d.1142+) of Lochmaben, Hugh Morville (d.1162) of Cunningham and Ranulf Soulis (d.1165+) of Liddel and Hermitage.  Another boon that came David's way was his marriage in 1113 to Matilda Waltheof (d.1130), the widow of Earl Simon Senlis (d.1111).  This brought him many lands in the centre of England.  As prince of the Cumbrians David moved easily throughout the Norman ‘empire' and attended his king, Henry I (1100-35), in many places other than Scotland.  He also used his wealth to found 2 new burghs in his principality, Roxburgh and Berwick, as well as reorganise the diocese of Glasgow.  Despite this, David appears far more apparent in the written record in England than in Scotland.

King Alexander's death in 1124 seems to have been unexpected and to have occurred when David may have been in Normandy.  Consequently Alexander was initially succeeded by the man on the spot, in this case his illegitimate son, Malcolm.  David rapidly returned, bested Malcolm in 2 battles and forced him from the kingdom, being crowned that same spring at Scone in a rather barbaric display that somewhat horrified the new king.  In 1130 David's wife, Matilda Waltheof, died and Angus Moray, the grandson of King Lulach (d.1058), rose in revolt, supported by David's old enemy, Malcolm the illegitimate son of King Alexander.  The result was a battle at Stracathro near Brechin when David's constable defeated and killed Angus and 4,000 men at an alleged cost of 1,000, or 100, of his own men.  The constable then followed up his victory by conquering Moray.  However, this wasn't the end of the struggle as Malcolm fought on for a further 4 years, until David's Norman and English allies under Walter Espec of Helmsley and Robert Bruce of Lochmaben, operating with a navy from Carlisle, finally captured Malcolm ‘by treachery'.  It may have been as late as this that Walter Fitz Alan (d.1177) acquired Renfrew and Rothesay and Hugh Morville (d.1162) the barony of Cunningham.  Similarly, William Fitz Duncan (d.1152/54), was granted Moray, possibly founding Elgin and Forres about the same time.

No sooner was the war to conquer the outlying districts of what has become known as Scotland over, war broke out to the south.  King Henry I died on 1/2 December 1135 and his nephew, Stephen Blois (d.1154), seized the throne.  As a result David decided to press for his rights over his father in law's Northumberland inheritance.  To this end David immediately invaded the north of England and laid waste the provinces of Northumberland and Cumberland with the intention of adding them to his realm.  The course of this war is examined under Alnwick, Carlisle and Skipton castles.  Despite being defeated at the battle of the Standard in August 1138, King David and his nephew, William Fitz Duncan (d.1152/54), conquered much of the north of England and secured King Stephen's acceptance of this in 1139.

In 1141 David casually abandoned King Stephen (1135-54) after his defeat at Lincoln that February and slowly moved south for the coronation of his niece, the Empress Matilda (d.1167).  Once in London he attempted to mollify Matilda's treatment of her potential vassals, but his advice was ignored.  Despite this, he remained with Matilda until her catastrophic defeat at the rout of Winchester.  Then, returning north, he established a firm following along the Borders.  His supporters included Eustace Fitz John of Alnwick (d.1157), Bernard Balliol of Barnard castle (d.1162), Robert Bruce of Lochmaben (d.bef.1190) and Hugh Morville (d.1162).  He also pushed and nearly succeeded in getting his man, William Comyn (d.1143/60), made bishop of Durham.  It was only in 1143 that David's chamberlain finally surrendered Durham castle to the newly elected bishop of Durham after a protracted 2 year dispute.  Despite this set back, Northumberland and Cumberland had been added to the Scottish realm and remained an oasis of peace while the civil war continued in the South.

As late as 1149 David planned to take York, but was foiled by King Stephen getting wind of the plot and rushing reinforcements to the spot.  Despite this setback, David remained supreme in the North of England until his death on 24 May 1153 at Carlisle castle.  Oddly, in his Irish obituary it was stated ‘King David Mac Malcolm of Scots and English happily quit his life'.  Possibly this was due to the devotions he made at his long deathbed in Carlisle castle keep.  As has been noted, David was at least 60 at this time and possibly as old as 72.


Earl Henry of Huntington (d.1152)
Henry was born within a few years of David's marriage to Matilda Waltheof (d.1130) in 1113 and although he was never king was ancestor of David's successors.  By 1119/20 he was old enough to witness his father's charter with his mother and was old enough in February 1136 to be made lord of Huntington when his father gave up his English territories to his son as part of his peace deal with King Stephen (1135-54).  This peace proved short lived as Henry was insulted at the royal court and withdrew to the North with a valid casus belli.  Henry, with his Norman knights, led an impetuous, but ultimately unsuccessful charge into the English lines at the battle of the Standard on 22 August 1138.  When a new concord was made early in 1139, Henry was taken with King Stephen and almost came to grief at the royal siege of Ludlow castle.  The new alliance seems to have worked well and in April 1139 was cemented by Henry marrying Adelina Warenne, the daughter of Earl William Warenne (d.1138) of Castle Acre, Conisbrough, Lewes and Sandal castles.  Despite this, Henry lost his English lands when he turned to the Empress after Stephen's defeat and capture on 2 February 1141 at Lincoln.  However, to counterbalance this the Umfravilles of Prudhoe around this time joined the Scottish party, bringing the Scottish Crown complete control of both Northern provinces.

Henry had an elder brother, Malcolm, who apparently was murdered aged 2, by a deranged, mutilated Norwegian cleric at some time probably before 1120.  The tale is so odd and graphic there seems no reason to doubt it.  Henry also had 2 sisters, Claricia and Hodierna, about whom nothing else is known.  He died young, aged between 32 and 37, on 12 June 1152 at either Roxburgh or Newcastle and so never became king of Scots, the title passing to 2 of his children in turn and continuing with the descendants of the third.


Malcolm IV, 1153-65
Earl Henry's eldest son, Malcolm, was born on 20 March 1142 and died just 23 years later at Jedburgh castle on 9 December 1165.  His realm was not a happy one and he was rapidly crowned in the face of considerable opposition from elements of the royal family.  In November 1153 Somerled of Argyll (d.1164) attacked with his relative, the grandson of King Alexander (d.1124), but Somerled was soon diverted by other problems to his west and south.  In the North, a relative, Malcolm MacHeth (d.1168), probably a descendant of the earls of Moray, was reconciled to King Malcolm in 1157 and became mormaer of Ross for him.  The same year, when the king was just 15, he was browbeaten by Henry II (1154-89) at Peak castle into returning Northumberland and Cumberland to the English Crown.  This would appear to be one reason he tends to be rather sneeringly referred to as Malcolm the Maiden by later ‘historians', but he left at least one illegitimate son who predeceased him and was buried at Inverlethan.

Malcolm fought for Henry II at Toulouse in 1159 where he was knighted.  However, on his return 6 of his earls rebelled against him at besieged him in Perth, possibly irritated that Malcolm had paid homage to King Henry for Scotland.  The revolt was apparently settled by negotiation and the king set off with his now loyal earls and crushed Fergus of Galloway in 1160.  In 1164 the last opposition was crushed when Somerled was killed near the new Renfrew castle of Walter Fitz Alan (d.1177) the ancestor of the later Stewart kings of Scotland.


William I, 1165-1214
William was born in 1143 and lived until 4 December 1214, making him one of the older kings of the era, dying at the age of 71.  On the death of his father in 1152 he was made earl of Northumberland, but this title was surrendered by King Malcolm IV to King Henry II (1154-89) in 1157 when William was just 14.  This rankled with William and after he became king in succession to his brother in 1165 he several times attempted to regain the title, although Henry II did recognise him as earl of Huntingdon.

In 1173 William threw in his lot with the rebels under the Young King Henry III (d.1183) after offering King Henry II the service of 1,000 knights and 3,000 sergeants for ‘his lawful due...Northumberland'.  This resulted in William leading Scottish armies south into England and ended on 12 July 1174 with William outmaneuvered, defeated and captured at the battle of Alnwick.  William was then brought to Henry at Northampton ‘with his feet lashed under his horse's belly'.  In the meantime Huntingdon was confiscated and Scotland was made a vassal state of England with the 5 major castles, Edinburgh, Stirling, Roxburgh, Jedburgh and Berwick being turned over to Henry II's garrisons who were to be paid from the Scottish king's revenue.  This was all enacted in the 8 December 1174 treaty of Falaise which also stipulated that many of the king's barons should become Plantagenet hostages until the castles were surrendered.  The agreement was formerly enacted before an audience and William's brother and heir David (d.1219) in York cathedral.  In 1185 King Henry returned the earldom of Huntingdon to William, who immediately granted it to his younger brother, David (1144-1219).  The next year, 1186, on William's marriage to Ermengarde Beaumont (d.1234), King Henry gifted William his own castle of Edinburgh back.  However, on 5 December 1189 at Canterbury, King Richard I (1189-99) sold Scotland all his rights in Scotland including the castles of Roxburgh and Berwick back to William for 10,000m (£6,666 13s 4d).  The money was to help finance Richard's crusade.

Meanwhile, on his release from Henry II's captivity, William had problems to face at home.  In 1179 William with his brother, David, campaigned in the far north founding castles at Redcastle by Milton (Ederdour) on the Black Isle and Dunskeath opposite Cromarty.  Both were lost on the rebellion of Donald MacWilliam, the son of William Fitz Duncan (d.1152/54), the onetime lord of Skipton castle and probably earl of Moray.  Donald was eventually killed on 31 July 1187 at the battle of Mamgarvey Moor in Speyside.  King William campaigned twice more in the north, after being released from Henry II's subjugation, once in 1197 and finally in 1202.  During this rebellion King William received the boon of having a papal bull declaring that the church of Scotland was directly subject to Rome and not to England as the treaty of Falaise (1174) would have had it.

In 1194 William tried again to claim
by diplomacy Northumberland.  When Richard I returned from his German captivity in 1194, having sold the overlordship of England to the Holy Roman Empire for his freedom, William offered him 15,000m (£10,000) for Northumberland, but as Richard would only sell him the land without the castles, the offer fell through.  When King John came to the throne, William again made overtures for the return of his lost province, but without success.

The final decade of his life showed William becoming more and more dependent upon an increasingly beleaguered King John (1199-1216).  In 1209 the strained relationship led to John marching a powerful army to Norham castle and enforcing William's compliance.  To obtain terms William had to promise much money as well as agreeing to the marriage of his daughters to the king's barons.  In 1212 the agreement of Norham was renewed, and William, fearing for the safety of his only son, placed him into John's care just as John asked for William to look after his own son and heir, Prince Henry (later Henry III), due to the disturbed nature of the kingdoms at this time.  William also contracted for his son, Alexander, who was born in 1198, to marry John's young daughter, Joan, who had only been born in 1210.

William died at Stirling in 1214 before being buried at his own foundation of Arbroath abbey, aged 71.


Alexander II, 1214-49
Alexander was born at Haddington on 24 August 1198 and died on Kerrara in Oban Bay on 8 July1249.  He married firstly Joan Plantagenet (1210-38) the daughter of King John (1199-1216) and secondly Mary Coucy (d.1284/85).  At the age of 15 Alexander was knighted by King John in 1213.  His father died on 4 December the next year and Alexander was crowned at Scone just 2 days later.  The speed of the coronation was probably sensible as soon afterwards insurrection broke out in the North, under Donald Bane MacWilliam, and Kenneth MacHeth.  However, this was quickly quashed and Donald killed.  Alexander, the Red Fox Cub as King John called him, then turned against his mentor and, like his father before him, sided with the rebels and attacked John's forces in England.  The subsequent counter-attack saw Berwick sacked.  By September 1216 Alexander's forces were with the Dauphin Louis (d.1222) at Dover where he paid homage to the Frenchman for his English lands.  Despite this, the death of King John in October 1216 united the anti-French sentiment in England and peace was declared between the main belligerents on 12 September 1217 at the treaty of Kingston.  With this Alexander slowly relinquished his gains during the war, including Carlisle castle, to the government of the child-king, Henry III (1216-72).

The year 1222 saw Alexander campaign in the North bringing Caithness more firmly under Scottish control when he punished the killers of Bishop Adam Melrose of Caithness.  The king also undertook the pacification of Argyll which may have resulted in the foundation of Tarbert castle, while in 1235 had to intervene in Galloway.  In 1237 Alexander refuted Henry III's claim for homage with a demand for the return of Cumberland and Northumberland, but the dispute was settled by the treaty of York which fixed the boundary of the 2 kingdoms as running along the Solway Firth north of Carlisle to the River Tweed below Berwick.  The year 1243 saw Henry III launch an abortive attack on Scotland which ended at the treaty of Newcastle.  Finally in 1249, Alexander set out to conquer the Hebrides, but fell ill and died on Kerrara island opposite the site of later Oban.  He was just 50.

Alexander III, 1249-86
Alexander was born at Roxburgh on 4 September 1241 and fell to his death off Kinghorn Cliff in Fife on 19 March 1286.  On his father's early death he had been crowned at Scone on 13 July 1249 aged only 8.  The major feature of the early part of Alexander's reign was therefore factional infighting for the control of the government.  Earl Walter Comyn of Menteith (d.1258) was the first leader of the regency, but he was killed in 1258 when he fell from his horse at St Albans.  The running of the country was often disputed by Alan Durward of Coull castle (d.1268).  He was the widower of Countess Isabella of Atholl (d.1186) and a great grandson of Earl Gillecrist of Mar (d.1204).  Isabella died before 1237 and at some point before 1245 Alan married Marjory the illegitimate daughter of King Alexander.  He then had 3 daughters by her, the eldest being Ermengarde, named after her great grandmother, Ermengarde Beaumont (d.1234), the widow of King Alexander II (d.1214).  In 1251 it is claimed Alan attempted to have Marjory made legitimate and placed on the throne in place of Alexander III, but the plan is said to have been betrayed by King Henry III.  Presumably Durward was against the marriage of the young Alexander to King Henry's daughter Margaret that took place on 26 December 1251.  In any case Alan went on to beat a royalist army in 1254 and allegedly planned to kidnap King Alexander at Edinburgh the same year during a peace conference.  The next year the 2 kings met at Kelso, dismissed Menteith from the government and appointed Durward in his place.  Two years later in 1257 all was undone when Menteith captured the king and enforced a regency government run by the adherents of himself and Durward.

The regency was dissolved in 1262 when Alexander reached 21.  He then promptly went to war with Norway over the Western Isles.  The result was the desultory battle of Largs which led to the treaty of Perth whereby all the Scottish Islands except Orkney and Shetland were ceded to Alexander.  Despite his many wars and upsets it was carnal pleasures that seem to have brought Alexander to his death.  He left the safety of Edinburgh, crossed the Firth of Forth by sea and then managed to fall from his horse breaking his neck near Kinghorn in Fife, while hurrying to the tender arms of his new wife.

Alexander had married Margaret Plantagenet (1240-75) in 1251 and then Yolande Dreux (1269-1322) at Jedburgh abbey on 1 November 1285.  Although he had 3 children with his first wife, Margaret Plantagenet, they all died young - his eldest son, the 20 year old Alexander died in 1283, while the youngest, David, born in 1273, was dead before 1281.  This left Alexander's daughter, Margaret, born 28 February 1261 at Windsor castle, his only child to have an heir.  She had married King Erik II of Norway (d.1299) in 1281 and gave birth to a daughter at sea near the Orkneys and died either the same day or a little later on 9 April 1283.  The child was named Margaret and became heir to the Scottish throne.


Margaret, the Maid of Norway, 1286-90
In 1284, the baby Margaret was declared heiress to the Scottish Crown, until such time as the new queen of King Alexander III might give birth.  With the king dying in 1286, while rushing to fulfil his matrimonial duty, the kingdom devolved on the 5 year old Margaret.  With the throne vacant 6 guardians were appointed, Bishop William Frasier of St Andrews (1279-97), Earl Duncan of Fife (d.1288) and Earl John Comyn of Buchan (d.1308) to look after the land north of the Forth; to look after the south, Bishop Robert Wishart of Glasgow (1271-1316), John Comyn (the Black, d.1303) and  James Stewart, the seneschal of Scotland (d.1309).  By the treaty of Salisbury on 9 November 1289, King Edward I of England (1272-1307) confirmed the Scottish guardians in their job and persuaded King Eric of Norway to let his daughter return to Britain, to be looked after by Edward until she was able to take up her right as queen.  He also settled the missing dowry payments owed to Eric from his own marriage to the Maid's mother.  A week later on 16 November 1289, the king received a papal dispensation for the marriage of his 5 year old son to the 7 year old princess.  On 18 July 1290 another treaty was drawn up at Birgham, Berwickshire and ratified at Northampton on 28 August.  This confirmed that Margaret would marry the young Prince Edward and that the marriage would not result in Scotland become Edward's property, but that it would remain distinct from England.  Despite the promising start, within a month, just like her mother, the young Margaret died at sea near the Orkneys on 6 September 1290.  Thus all the carefully laid plans were thrown into confusion.


Edward I, 1290-92
With the direct heirs of King Alexander II (d.1249) all dead Scotland was thrown into chaos as up to 14 nobles threw their caps into the ring to succeed the Maid of Norway.  Consequently the lords of Scotland asked Edward I to adjudicate the decision to choose who had the best right to throne, the best claim being found by 104 auditors.  These were to consist of 40 men appointed by John Balliol (d.1314), 40 by Earl Robert Bruce of Carrick (d.1295) and 24 selected by Edward I himself from senior members of Scotland's leaders.  At this delicate time Queen Eleanor, King Edward's much loved consort, died on 28 November 1290.  Overcome with grief Edward was slow in replying to the Scots and when he did he explained that he could not do what they wanted unless he was made the feudal overlord of Scotland.  The Scottish nobility replied that they could not grant such a thing as without a king there was no one to make such a momentous decision.  However, the competitors, greedy for power, accepted that Scotland should be handed over to Edward until the rightful heir was accepted.   On 11 June 1291, King Edward became effective ruler of Scotland when he was given the right to appoint guardians of the realm and sort out the succession mess.

Edward took his duties seriously and a year was spent in deliberations before a decision was made that John Balliol (d.1314) was undoubtedly the heir with the strongest claim to the throne as second cousin once removed of Alexander III (d.1286).  He was descended from Margaret (d.bef.1229), the elder daughter of Earl David of Huntingdon (d.1219), the younger brother of King William the Lion (d.1214).  Ruled out of the equation were Earl Robert Bruce of Carrick (d.1295) the son of Isabel (d.1252), Earl David's next younger daughter, which made him second cousin to Alexander III; John Hastings (d.1313), Alexander's second cousin once removed by Earl David's third youngest daughter, Ada (d.1241++); Count Floris V of Holland (d.1296), who was the second cousin twice removed from Alexander III via Ada (d.1206+) the daughter of Earl Henry of Huntingdon (d.1152); John the Black Comyn (d.1303) who was second cousin once removed of Alexander III by his descent from King Donald Bane (d.1097); Nicholas Soulis (d.1296), the half grand nephew of Alexander III through his grandmother Ermengarde Durward (d.1251+); Patrick Golightly, the half first cousin of Alexander III through his father, Henry, the bastard of King William the Lion (d.1214); William Roos (d.1316), the half first cousin twice removed of Alexander III from William the Lion's illegitimate daughter Isabel (d.1195); William Vescy (d.1297), the half first cousin once removed of Alexander III as the grandson of another of King William's bastards, this time a Margaret (d.1218+); Patrick Dunbar (d.1308) a half first cousin twice removed of Alexander III via yet another bastard of King William, Ada (d.1200); Roger Mandeville, a half cousin thrice removed of Alexander III, descended from Aufrica the bastard of King William; Robert Pinkeney (d.1296) the fifth cousin of Alexander III via Marjorie the daughter of Earl Henry of Huntingdon (d.1152).  The final competitor was King Eric II of Norway who claimed the throne as son in law of Alexander III and father of Margaret the Maid.

On 17 November 1292, in the hall of Berwick castle, the auditors announced their decision in favour of Balliol who was duly crowned king of Scots on 30 November 1292 at Scone.  However, King Edward I remained overlord and apparently expected much of his vassal, John Balliol of Barnard Castle, even if he was now king of Scotland.  Thus on 26 December 1292 King John swore to his fifth cousin, King Edward I:

I, King John Balliol of the Scots, hereby become your liegeman for the whole realm of Scotland with its appurtenances and everything that goes with it and that kingdom I hold, and ought to hold, and claim to hold by right for myself and my heirs, the kings, of Scotland, by inheritance, of you and your heirs, the kings of England; and I will maintain faith and fealty to you and your heirs, the kings of England, in matters of life and limb and of earthly honour, against all mortal men.


John Balliol, 1292-96
Despite being a powerful baron in England, based on his family fortress at Barnard Castle, John inherited great estates in Scotland from his mother, Devorguilla Galloway (d.1290).  When his father died in 1268 he inherited these lands plus the castles of Bywell and Fotheringhay.  Like many of his Scottish predecessors he married into the Warenne family of the earls of Surrey.

On being acclaimed king of Scotland, John found a difficult path in front of him.  For the last 70 years Anglo-Scottish relations had been relatively harmonious and Anglo-Scottish barons made up a large proportion of Scotland's nobility.  However, although these barons had often marched south to fight in England's wars (many Scots were present at the battle of Lewes in 1264), they had never had their lands taxed to pay for Plantagenet wars.  This began to change in the 1290s and the new way of things did not sit well with some of the Scottish nobility.  Firstly, they appear to have objected to the king of England continuing to hear the cases that had begun during the interregnum when Edward had control of the country.  Secondly they objected to the king of Scots appearing in person to answer charges by a Scottish magnate.  However, these appear to be but petty annoyances, the real trouble came in 1294 when Edward was attacked by his enemy, King Philip IV of France (1285-1314).

After war had broken out between England and France in 1294, Edward I had asked for Scottish aid to put down the rebellion of the Welsh and retake Gascony from the French.  In response to these requests, in July 1295 a coup took place at Stirling when a council of 12 were appointed to run the country, rather like the 1258 coup against Henry III (1216-72) in England.  This council then made a treaty of mutual assistance with King Philip IV of France (1285-1314), a country that had just attacked their feudal overlord, King Edward I of England.  Effectively this was a declaration of war against Edward who was already at war with Philip.  In reply King Edward, unable to take his army to France due to the revolt of Madog ap Llywelyn of Meirionydd and many Welshmen, concentrated his forces against Wales during 1295, knowing he had to settle affairs in Britain, before he could securely move against France.  The next year opened with the Scottish rebels, Earl John Comyn of Buchan (d.1308) with the earls of Menteith, Starthearn, Lennox, Ross, Athol and Mar, together with John Comyn of Badenoch (d.1303), attacking the Bruces who were holding Carlisle for King Edward on 26 March 1296.  This was after King John had revoked his homage to Edward.  Within the month King Edward's rebels had lost Berwick before being routed at the battle of Dunbar.  With this the battle for control of Scotland virtually ended.

King John formerly surrendered to King Edward on 10 July 1296 and was stripped of his title of king of Scotland as a traitor to his overlord and was marched south to imprisonment in the Tower of London. where he was allowed among other things for his pleasure, a huntsman, a page and 10 hounds for the chase within his household.  Indeed the expenses of ex.King John and his household cost Edward £135 6½d from 6 August to 19 November 1296.  From London he passed to Hertford and eventually Picardy after 11 July 1299.  On that date Edward ordered John to come to him at Canterbury 'to talk with him on some matters of business'.  John was to be attended from the Tower with one knight, although when he was near Canterbury the king wished to send an escort to meet him so that he could enter the city 'more becomingly'.  He was then passed to the papal nuncio at Wissant on 18 July 1299.  Although some Scots petitioned for his return by 1302 he had effectively been abandoned by his kingdom and he in turn had come to despise his former subjects.  On 21 April 1298 the ex king described his subjects as full of:

such malice, deceit, treason and treachery, arising from their malignity, wickedness and stratagems, and from various other execrable and detestable actions by those who, as I had good grounds to believe, were plotting to poison me, who was then their prince, that it is not my intention to enter or go into the realm of Scotland again...

That said, it has been stated that the document was a forgery on the rather pathetic grounds that ‘the Scots' made no reply to it.  John Balliol died in 1314, aged 65, but his claim to Scotland did not die with him as he left a son, Edward (d.1364).


Edward I, 1296-1307
In the Spring of 1296 King Edward was ready to deal with his rebels in Scotland.  The English army, already victorious in Wales the previous year, marched into Scotland and shattered the troops of the council at the battle of Dunbar on 27 April 1296.  With that Dunbar castle surrendered with much of the chivalry of Scotland.  Edward's forces pushed on northwards and on 10 July 1296, the already nearly powerless King John surrendered at Stracathro.  Edward then set about treating Scotland as an escheated barony and placed his men to rule over the land, taking and garrisoning all the important castles from Roxburgh in the south to Urquhart in the north.

Unfortunately for King Edward, his annexing of Scotland did not end his problems.  Although this stopped the military threat of an invasion of England from the North, it also meant that Edward had to maintain garrisons in the kingdom and so it became an additional burden on his exchequer and not a boon.  In 1297 Edward wanted to campaign with a full army in France, but was unable to do so as his much taxed subjects rebelled against further impositions.  Edward still campaigned, but with a small army in Flanders.  In Scotland small revolts still flared in the North, which on 11 September 1297 led to the disastrous defeat of Edward's men at the battle of Stirling Bridge and much of Scotland rebelling from his rule.  This defeat galvanised the previously disunited kingdom and Edward marched north again in 1298 with a massive army after King Philip had abandoned his Scottish allies in January 1298.  The king met the army of the regent, William Wallace (d.1303), at the decisive battle of Falkirk and once again Scotland paid homage to the Plantagenet, while he remained in the North.  On his return to England the rebels, now under the joint guardianship of Robert Bruce (d.1329) and John Comyn (d.1306), promptly captured Stirling castle and took control of most of the countryside as well as most major fortresses.  In 1300 Edward marched north again and this time crushed Caerlaverock in a set piece siege, but achieved little else but a truce on 30 October 1300.  Arguments in the Scottish camp led to changes in leadership and eventually John Soulis (d.1310) was appointed sole guardian with the intention of having John Balliol return as king. 

The year 1301 saw King Edward back again campaigning deeply in Galloway, with Prince Edward (later Edward II) beating off a Scottish attack at Lochmaben in early September and then taking Turnberry castle in the heart of Bruce's earldom of Carrick.  Meanwhile, King Edward took Bothwell castle and then wintered at Linlithgow before agreeing to a 9 month truce in January 1302.  When the truce ended in 1302 John Comyn (d.1306) scored a victory over John Segrave (d.1325) at Rosslyn.  However, despite John Solis (d.1310) going to France to lobby the French, King Philip made peace with King Edward in May 1303, once again totally ignoring his Scottish allies.

With war with France ended, King Edward once again took his legions northwards and took Brechin castle, possibly with the first use of cannon in Britain.  He then toured a quiescent kingdom as far north as Inverness and Urquhart before returning to the south.  By 1304 most of the rebels had laid down their arms.  John Comyn was one of the last to submit, but on 9 February 1304 he made terms that prisoners would be relased by both sides on ransom being paid and that there would be no reprisals or disinheritance for the surrendered.  Further, it was agreed that all Scottish laws and liberties would stand as they had been on the day when Alexander III lived and died, although King Edward would be allowed to alter them with the advice and assent of the Scottish nobility.  James Stewart (d.1309), John Soulis (d.1310) and Ingram Umfraville (d.1320) were further exiled until Wallace was captured, while the other nobles were to bring that capture about.  With the country effectively pacified, the king turned against one of the last remaining strongholds, Stirling castle.  This finally surrendered to Edward's massive siege engine - the war wolf - when Edward allowed their capitulation.  Finally on 3 August 1305, Wallace was taken and Scotland seemed at peace after 8 years of bloody warfare.

Despite this, Scotland was plunged into war again the next year when Robert Bruce revolted, was crowned king, was defeated and fled the country.  The next year Bruce returned and lit the embers of revolt once more.  Tired and dying, Edward I tried to move an army into Scotland, but died trying cross the Solway Firth, his indomitable will finally deserting him at age 68.


Robert the Bruce, 1306-29
On 6 February 1306, Robert Bruce met John Comyn at the Greyfriars church in Dumfries where he and his men stabbed Comyn to death.  With the sacrilege of murder committed Bruce made his claim to the throne after eliminating what was probably his main rival after Edward I and a man who had been very successful in opposing the English king.  Further, there were still many other claimants to the Scottish throne, Hastings and Solis to name but 2, plus of course, the young count of Holland who was now under King Edward's protection.  There is only one contemporary chronicle of this period and this states that the 2 men argued until Bruce drew his sword and hit Comyn over the head at which point further Bruce men ran in and dispatched Comyn.  Therefore, there is no contemporary evidence as to why Bruce murdered Comyn, but it is to be presumed that the side that went there with greater numbers, armed and committed sacrilege were probably not the good guys.  The storytelling of Barbour cannot be taken as an example of contemporary history.  Similarly Fordun was writing about the same time and in both cases they were partisan writers.

Seven weeks after the murder Bruce had gathered enough support to have himself crowned king, but soon afterwards the new royal force was badly defeated at the battle of Methven, whose events have been probably terminally impaired by the later poem by Barbour.  With this defeat Bruce support slipped away, until he too slipped away into an unknown exile, while his brothers were executed and his womenfolk arrested.  When Bruce returned in February 1307 his first act was to massacre the Edwardian garrison of his castle at Turnberry, which was then slighted.  This was followed by some skirmishing leading to the defeat of the earl of Pembroke, before Bruce set off for the Great Glen where he took Inverlochy and Urquhart castles before moving on take Balvenie and Duffus castles.  Finally, winning a battle over the Comyns at Inverurie in May 1308, he proceeded to destroy the district in ‘the harrying of Buchan'.  Following this Bruce turned back to the west and defeated the MacDougalls at the battle of Brander Pass before taking Dunstaffnage castle.  Once more this was followed by a harrying of the district, in this case Argyle and Kintyre.

By March 1309, with his excommunication recently lifted, Bruce was strong enough to hold his first parliament at St Andrews and continued his advance into the lowlands.  The year 1310 saw Bruce recognised by the Scottish clergy, despite his sacrilege for the murder of Comyn.  The same year Linlithgow fell and the next year this was followed by Dumbarton.  In 1314 Roxburgh and Edinburgh fell and Stirling agreed to capitulate on 24 June 1314 if not relieved.  This led to Edward II (1307-27) trying to relieve the fortress, but leading his army to defeat at Bannockburn.  With this most of the remaining castles surrendered to Bruce with Stirling

Despite the devastating defeat, Edward II refused to treat with Bruce.  Consequently Robert pushed Scottish forces southwards into England and attempted to conquer Ireland.  This enterprise was finally ended with Edward Bruce's defeat and death at the battle of Faughart in October 1318.  In 1320, 51 members of the nobility of Scotland sealed the declaration of Arbroath - a great historical plea for self determination rather than absorption into England and the removal of Bruce's excommunication.  However, barely before the seals had set, Bruce put to death 2 of the witnesses, William Soulis of Hermitage, the son of the old guardian and competitor, together with David Brechin, allegedly for plotting to depose the king. 

By 1327 Bruce was 52 and beginning to show signs of a deliberating disease that claimed his life 2 years later.  In 1328 the pope finally lifted his 1320 excommunication and the new government of the young King Edward III of England finally relented and granted Scotland its formal independence under King Robert I.  Bruce's last trip was sailing from his home at Cardross to Tarbert at the end of 1328.  He then went on to visit his son at his rebuilt castle at Turnberry and then to pray at Whithorn before returning by sea to Cardross.

After Bruce's death his heart was carried on Crusade to Spain where James Douglas was killed.  However, the Bruce's heart was returned to Scotland and buried in a silver container in Melrose where it was found and examined in modern times.

David II, 1329-33
King Robert's only surviving son was born on 5 March 1324 when the king was 49.  Robert died just 5 years later leaving his infant son a still unstable kingdom that Bruce had been forced to defend from invasion just the year before.  Luckily for the new king England was currently distracted by a regency government and the infighting that encouraged.  Surprisingly over 2 years were to pass before the infant was crowned king at Scone on 24 November 1331.  This was the first occasion when a Scottish king was anointed, rather than just crowned.  The purpose of this was to put the kingdom of Scotland on a similar perceived base as their neighbours in London.  During this time Scotland was administered by regents, the first of whom was Earl Thomas Randolph of Moray (d.1332).  He simply continued the government of Robert the Bruce, but died in his mid 50s on 20 July 1332.

Despite his tender years, David had been married to Joan Plantagenet (d.1362), the daughter of King Edward II (1307-27), by the terms of the treaty of Northampton on 27 July 1328.  She at the time was 7, he 4.  After the death of Thomas Randolph things moved rapidly for the new king and his ill fated guardians.  Ten days after Earl Donald Mar was elected guardian at Scone he fell at the battle of Dupplin Moor fighting against Edward Balliol and those who had been disinherited by Bruce.  Mar was replaced by Andrew Moray (d.1338) of Bothwell who was soon captured at Roxburgh in April 1333.  Finally Archibald Douglas was elected guardian only to lead Bruce's army to defeat and his own death at the battle of Halidon Hill in an ill fated attempt to break the siege of Berwick.  With this catestrophic defeat David and his child bride were sent to France for safety, reaching the continent on 14 May 1334.  Meanwhile, into the fractured realm of Scotland towered the fleeting figures of Edward Balliol and Edward III (1327-77).

Edward Balliol, 1332-56
Edward was born before 1291 and was apparently named after King Edward I (1272-1307).  After his father, King John Balliol, had resigned the kingdom of Scotland, Edward was held with him in the Tower of London.  In 1299 he was released into the custody of his grandfather, Earl John Warenne of Surrey (d.1304), the commander at the battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.  The king paid the constable of the Tower £100 on 29 January 1299 for Edwar'ds expenses.  In 1320 it is alleged that Edward was part of the abortive Soulis conspiracy, but evidence for this is lacking.

Edward's moment came in 1332 when he led the disinherited, Henry Beaumont (d.1340), David Strathbogie (d.1335) and Gilbert Umfraville (d.1381), in a descent upon Fife in the company of Walter Manny, the later builder of Bodiam castle and Thomas Ughtred.  The result was their overwhelming victory over the Scottish regent Mar at Dupplin Moor on 11 August 1332.  Balliol was then crowned king of Scots at Scone on 24 September 1332.  However, his position proved far from secure and he moved south to the border where his support was more secure.  At Roxburgh on 23 November 1332, in the presence of Eustace Maxwell of Caerlaverock, he set out his claim to the throne and conceded to Edward III £2,000 of land in Lothian including Berwick with its castle.  Further, for the kingdom of Scoltand he pledged 200 men at arms when ordered, with his heirs supplying only 100 after his death.  He also pledged to take Joan Plantagenet (d.1362, the wife of King David), in marriage, giving her a dowery of £500 in land or paying the king £10,000 if he did not marry her.  Finally, he promised to provide the disinherited David Bruce with an estate, all under a surety of £10,000.  This manifesto did not impress the Bruce party and they proceeded to rout Balliol in a surprise attack at Annan that December and forced him out of the country.  In 1333 he returned with Edward III and helped take Berwick as well as defeat the new guardian, Douglas, at the battle of Halidon Hill.

Balliol, on 12 February 1334 while residing at Edinburgh, called a parliament and reissued his manifesto of 1332, but this time increased his surety to £200,000, a figure he could never have met.  He also gave Alexander Mowbray and John Felton power to arrange a ‘perpetual peace' to be made between the kingdoms of Scotland and England.  Despite this, Balliol was issuing charters from Newcastle on Tyne by 12 June when he granted Edward III the castles and towns of Berwick, Roxburgh, Jedburgh, Edinburgh and Dumfries with the constabularies of Haddington and Linlithgow with the forests of Selkirk and Etterick - in other words, the bulk of Lothian.  Edward Balliol then advanced back into Scotland and was at Glasgow with his main supporters, Beaumont, Strathbogie, Talbot, Mowbray, Uhtred and Stirling on 15 September 1334.

Regardless of his grants to King Edward III, which must have weakened his own personal following and resources, Balliol was not powerful enough to establish himself in the north and infighting with his own supporters led to David Strathbogie being killed near Kildrummy castle at the battle of Culblean on 30 November 1335.

Despite these set backs King Philip VI of France (1328-50) proposed in 1336 that Balliol should remain king of Scotland, marry Princess Joan, the wife of King David and accept the young David as his heir.  Not surprisingly, King David, although only 12, rejected this idea.  In July 1336 the 2 King Edwards returned and ravaged Scotland from Glasgow to Perth, but achieved no control over the country.  Balliol was still at Perth on 2 December 1336, but again retired from Scotland even though as late as 1 July 1337 he noted that the abbot of Lindores in Fife had only just deserted his cause.

In 1346 Edward Balliol made his last attempt to overthrow King David who had been captured at the battle of Neville's Cross outside Durham.  He invaded Galloway and held the district for 9 years.  Edward was still holding Buittle castle on 1 December 1352 and was included in the truce made at the release of King David on 13 July 1354.  Finally, realising the impossibility of his dream on 20 January 1356, King Edward Balliol at Roxburgh granted to his beloved lord and relative Edward III the kingdom, government, title and crown of Scotland with all the islands and appurtenances in England and Galloway as was witnessed by his surviving major supporters and many English earls and lords.  For this Balliol received an annuity of an eye-watering £2,000 pa and a one off spontaneously given gift of 500m (£333 6s 8d).  So ended King Edward's bid for the Crown of Scotland, 8 years before he died in January 1364, aged at least 73.


David II, 1341-71
After his exile in France at Chateau Gaillard ended in 1341 the young king took over his kingdom at the age of 17, landing at Inverbervie some 5 miles south of Dunnottar castle.  His personal rule did not last long as in 1346, under the terms of the alliance with France, David invaded England, coming to grief at the battle of Neville's Cross near Durham on 17 October 1346.  Wounded twice in the face by arrows he was captured and taken to Wark castle where he was treated before being taken to captivity in England, being held at the Tower of London and later Odiham castle.  It was only on 3 October 1357, that an agreement was reached with the Scottish regency council to ransom him for 100,000m (£66,666 13s 4d) to be paid off at 10,000m (£6,666 13s 4d) pa.

On his return David was concerned with the succession as he had no children and Queen Joan seems to have remained in England, dying at Hertford castle on 7 September 1362.  In the meantime David had been consorting with mistresses, one of whom, Katherine Mortimer, was murdered in 1360.  In 1363, unable to find the money owed this year for his ransom, David returned to London and offered to bequeath the Crown to Edward III or one of his sons for the release for paying the rest of his ransom.  The Scottish parliament of 1364 indignantly rejected David's plea to this effect, but King David succeeded in drawing out negotiations with Edward III and failed to pay the rest of his ransom.  On 20 February 1364, he married his long term mistress, Margaret Drummond, the widow of John Logie, but, as they had no children divorced her on 20 March 1370.  She then went to Avignon where the pope quashed the illegal divorce.  David was planning to marry another mistress, Agnes Dunbar, when he suddenly died in Edinburgh castle on 22 February 1371, aged just 46.


Robert II, 1371-90
Robert Stewart was nephew to King David II, the son of Marjorie (d.1316), the only daughter of Robert the Bruce and Isabella Mar (d.1296), and Walter Stewart (d.1327).  Oddly for a nephew Robert was 10 years older than his Uncle David II and inherited the throne when he was 55.  Robert had fought at Halidon Hill on 19 July 1333 and, fleeing the battlefield, had briefly joined King David at Dumbarton castle before the young king left for France.  Stewart then made his peace with the new king, Edward Balliol (d.1364) in 1335, after coming to an arrangement with David Strathbogie (d.1335).  After his death Robert changed sides and was appointed guardian again in 1338 and helped take Perth in 1339.  Stewart was still guardian when King David returned in 1341.  Robert fought beside King David at Neville's Cross in 1346 and again managed to make his escape from the disaster, finding himself guardian yet again. 

Robert had an uncanonical marriage to Elizabeth Mure in 1336, but asked the pope to grant him a dispensation for the marriage which he did on 22 November 1347, thereby legitimising their 9 children.  After Elizabeth's death around 1353 Robert went on to marry Euphemia Ross and have a further 4 children with her.

From imprisonment King David replaced Robert as guardian, but parliament once again appointed him in February 1352 when the king was allowed to attend under license.  He proposed that John of Gaunt should be made his heir and that no ransom should be paid for him.  Not surprisingly Robert led the opposition to this proposal and the king had to return to captivity.   Presumably Robert was behind the petition that King David would not be ransomed or allowed to be ransomed, unless he pardoned his barons for all their acts and injuries that they had done, and all the offences that they had committed during the time of his captivity.  Further, they demanded the king should give them security for that, or otherwise they threatened to choose another king to rule over them.

Two years later it was agreed to ransom David for 90,000m (£60,000) to be paid off over 9 years at 10,000m (£6,666 13s 4d) pa.  Yet, before this could take place, Robert joined the French in war against England and seized Berwick.  This resulted in Edward III burning Haddington and Edinburgh, while his son destroyed the French army at the battle of Poitiers bringing the war to an end in 1356.  This led to the treaty of Berwick where the Scots again agreed to ransom David for 100,000m (£66,666 13s 4d) to be paid at 10,000m (£6,666 13s 4d) over 10 years.

Stewart had been under a cloud during the last years of King David's reign and it seems probable that David had wanted to remove him from the succession.  However, the king's sudden and unexpected death propelled Robert to the throne in a less than prepared state.  Faced with implacable enemies, the friends of David, he quickly cut a series of deals which led him to peaceably mount the throne while balancing and gaining the affections of some of his overmighty subjects.  To counterbalance these Robert made his second son, Robert
(d.1420), earl of Fife and Menteith, while the earldoms of Buchan and Ross were granted to his fourth son, Alexander, soon to be known as the Wolf of Badenoch (d.1404).  His son David (d.bef.1389) by his second marriage received the earldoms of Strathearn and Caithness.  The new king could also count upon the support of his daughters' husbands, John MacDonald of the Isles (d.1386), Earl John Dunbar of Moray (d.1392) and James Douglas (d.1388), soon to become earl of Douglas.  Robert's eldest son, John (d.1406), was already earl of Carrick and now heir to the throne.

In June 1371 the king agreed a defensive alliance with France and began to clandestinely organise attacks against the remaining English zones in Scotland, Berwick, Jedburgh, Lochmaben and Roxburgh.  In February 1384 Lochmaben castle finally fell after a 9 day siege.  However, in November the king's eldest son, Earl John of Carrick (d.1406), staged a political coup and had himself made guardian for his father and leader of the party that wished war with England.  In August 1388 the Scots won the battle of Otterburn, but lost Earl James of Douglas.  Further, Carrick was badly wounded by a horse kick.  In December Carrick's younger brother, Earl Robert of Fife (d.1420), later duke of Albany, seized control of the government and became guardian.  Carrick spent the next 2 years in the wilderness, where he remained even after becoming king.  On 19 April 1390, King Robert II died at his castle of Dundonald on the Ayrshire coast at the age of 74.

Robert III, 1390-1406
When
Earl John of Carrick assumed the throne he changed his name to Robert, thereby becoming King Robert III, possibly as he wanted to be seen to have no connection with the unfortunate King John Balliol (d.1314).  Yet, although Carrick peacefully ascended the throne he was allowed little power, with Albany retaining his role as lieutenant.  It was only in 1393 that power came to the king and then in conjunction with his son, David.  In 1399 he was again stripped of his powers and retreated to his ancestral homes in the west, his son, as duke of Rothesay obtaining power, although he soon locked horns with the duke of Albany and his supporters.  The result was the capture of Duke David at the siege of St Andrews and then his death, probably by starvation at Falkland castle in 1402.

With this further blow to his authority King Robert retreated further to his heartlands in the west.  In 1406 his only remaining son and heir, James, was caught unprepared by an attack by the Douglases which killed David Fleming and forced James onto Bass Rock.  After a month James managed to flee the rock, but was captured near Hartlepool by the English while he was trying to get to France and safety.  The shock of this seems to have killed King Robert who died at Rothesay castle on 4 April 1406 at the age of 68.



 

Copyright©2022 Paul Martin Remfry


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