Alexander III of Scotland

Learn more about Alexander III of Scotland

Jump to: navigation, search
Alexander III
King of Scots
Image:Alexander III.jpg
Reign July 6, 124919 March, 1286
Born 4 September, 1241
Died 19 March, 1286
Buried Dunfermline Abbey
Predecessor Alexander II
Successor Margaret
Consort Margaret of England
Yolande de Dreux
Issue Margaret, Alexander, David
Father Alexander II
Mother Marie de Coucy
Image:Alexander III and Ollamh Rígh.JPG
Coronation of King Alexander on Moot Hill, Scone. He is being greeted by the ollamh rígh, the royal poet, who is addressing him with the proclamation "Benach De Re Albanne" (= Beannachd Dé Rígh Alban, "God Bless the King of Scotland"); the poet goes on to recite Alexander's genealogy.

Alexander III (4 September, 124119 March, 1286), King of Scots, was born at Roxburgh, the only son of Alexander II by his second wife Marie de Coucy. Alexander's father died on 6 July 1249 and he became king at the age of eight, inaugurated at Scone on 13 July, 1249.

The years of his minority featured an embittered struggle for the control of affairs between two rival parties, the one led by Walter Comyn, Earl of Menteith, the other by Alan Durward, Justiciar of Scotia. The former dominated the early years of Alexander's reign. At the marriage of Alexander to Margaret of England in 1251, Henry III seized the opportunity to demand from his son-in-law homage for the Scottish kingdom, but Alexander did not comply. In 1255 an interview between the English and Scottish kings at Kelso led to Menteith and his party losing to Durward's party. But though disgraced, they still retained great influence, and two years later, seizing the person of the king, they compelled their rivals to consent to the erection of a regency representative of both parties.

On attaining his majority at the age of 21 in 1262, Alexander declared his intention of resuming the projects on the Western Isles which the death of his father thirteen years before had cut short. He laid a formal claim before the Norwegian king Haakon. Haakon rejected the claim, and in the following year responded with a formidable invasion. Sailing around the west coast of Scotland he halted off the Isle of Arran, and negotiations commenced. Alexander artfully prolonged the talks until the autumn storms should begin. At length Haakon, weary of delay, attacked, only to encounter a terrific storm which greatly damaged his ships. The battle of Largs (October 1263) proved indecisive, but even so, Haakon's position was hopeless. Baffled, he turned homewards, but died in the Orkneys on 15 December, 1263. The Isles now lay at Alexander's feet, and in 1266 Haakon's successor concluded the Treaty of Perth by which he ceded the Isle of Man and the Western Isles to Scotland in return for a monetary payment. Norway retained only Orkney and Shetland in the area.

Alexander had married Princess Margaret of England, a daughter of King Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence, on 26 December, 1251. She died in 1274, after they had three children:

  1. Margaret (28 February, 12609 April, 1283), who married King Eirik II of Norway
  2. Alexander (21 January, 126328 January, 1283)
  3. David (20 March, 1272–June 1281)

According to the Lanercost Chronicle, Alexander did not spend his decade as a widower alone: "he used never to forbear on account of season nor storm, nor for perils of flood or rocky cliffs, but would visit none too creditably nuns or matrons, virgins or widows as the fancy seized him, sometimes in disguise."

Towards the end of Alexander's reign, the death of all three of his children within a few years made the question of the succession one of pressing importance. In 1284 he induced the Estates to recognize as his heir-presumptive his granddaughter Margaret, the "Maid of Norway". The need for a male heir led him to contract a second marriage to Yolande de Dreux on 1 November, 1285.

But the sudden death of the king dashed all such hopes. Alexander died in a fall from his horse in the dark while riding to visit the queen at Kinghorn in Fife on 19 March, 1286. Alexander became separated from his guides and it is assumed that in the dark his horse lost its footing. The 44 year old king was found dead on the shore the following morning. Some texts have said that he fell off a cliff. Although there is no cliff at the site where his body was found there is a very steep rocky embankment - which would have been fatal in the dark. He was buried in Dunfermline Abbey.

As Alexander left no surviving children the heir to the throne was his unborn child by Queen Yolande. When Yolande's pregnancy ended in a still-birth in November of 1286, Alexander's granddaughter Margaret became the heir. Margaret died, still uncrowned, on her way to Scotland in 1290. The inauguration of John Balliol as king on 30 November, 1292 ended the six years of interregnum when the Guardians of Scotland governed the land.

[edit] See also

[edit] Source

  • Scott, Robert McNair. Robert the Bruce: King of Scots, 1996


Preceded by:
Alexander II
King of Scots
1249–1286
Succeeded by:
Guardians of Scotland
then John
Views
Personal tools
what is world wizzy?
  • World Wizzy is a static snapshot taken of Wikipedia in early 2007. It cannot be edited and is online for historic & educational purposes only.