Alexander III of Scotland

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Alexander III
Alexander III and Ollamh Righ.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. By Alexander's side is Maol Choluim II, Earl of Fife holding the sword.
King of Scots
Reign6 July 1249 – 19 March 1286
Coronation 13 July 1249
Predecessor Alexander II
Successor Margaret
Born4 September 1241
Roxburgh Castle, Roxburghshire
Died19 March 1286(1286-03-19) (aged 44)
Kinghorn Ness, Fife
Burial
Spouse
Margaret of England
(m. 1251;died 1275)

Yolande de Dreux (m. 1285)
Issue
More
Margaret, Queen of Norway
Alexander, Prince of Scotland
House Dunkeld
Father Alexander II
Mother Marie de Coucy

Alexander III (Medieval Gaelic: Alaxandair mac Alaxandair; Modern Gaelic: Alasdair mac Alasdair) (4 September 1241 – 19 March 1286) was King of Scots from 1249 until his death in 1286. [1]

Contents

Life

Alexander was born at Roxburgh, the only son of Alexander II by his second wife Marie de Coucy. Alexander III was also the grandson of William the Lion. Alexander's father died on 8 July 1249 and he became king at the age of seven, inaugurated at Scone on 13 July 1249.[ citation needed ]

Roxburgh village in Scotland

Roxburgh, also known as Rosbroch, is a civil parish and now-destroyed royal burgh, in the historic county of Roxburghshire in the Scottish Borders. It was an important trading burgh in High Medieval to early modern Scotland. In the Middle Ages it had at least as much importance as Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, or Berwick-upon-Tweed, for a time acting as de facto capital.

Alexander II of Scotland King of Scots 1214–1249

Alexander II was King of Scotland from 1214 until his death in 1249.

Marie de Coucy Scottish queen

Marie de Coucy was a Queen consort of the Kingdom of Scotland by marriage to Alexander II of Scotland, King of Scots. She was a member of the royal council during the two last years of the minority of her son, Alexander III, in 1260-1262.

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 of England 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. [2]

Earl of Menteith

The Mormaer or Earl of Menteith was the ruler of the province of Menteith in the Middle Ages. The first mormaer is usually regarded as Gille Críst, simply because he is the earliest on record. The title was held in a continuous line from Gille Críst until Muireadhach IV, although the male line was broken on two occasions. A truncated version of the earldom was given two years later to Malise Graham, 1st Earl of Menteith, in compensation for loss of the Earldom of Strathearn, which was a likely result of the execution of the Duke of Albany.

Alan Durward 13th-century Scottish nobleman

Alan Hostarius was the son of Thomas de Lundin, a grandson of Gille Críst, Mormaer of Mar. His mother's name is unknown, but she was almost certainly a daughter of Máel Coluim, Mormaer of Atholl, meaning that Alan was the product of two Gaelic comital families.

The Justiciar of Scotia was the most senior legal office in the High Medieval Kingdom of Scotland. Scotia in this context refers to Scotland to the north of the River Forth and River Clyde. The other Justiciar positions were the Justiciar of Lothian and the Justiciar of Galloway.

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. [2] 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 Orkney 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.[ citation needed ]

Norway constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe whose territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard are also part of the Kingdom of Norway. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land.

Haakon IV of Norway King of Norway

Haakon Haakonsson, sometimes called Haakon the Old in contrast to his son with the same name, and known in modern regnal lists as Haakon IV, was King of Norway from 1217 to 1263. His reign lasted for 46 years, longer than any Norwegian king since Harald Fairhair. Haakon was born into the troubled civil war era in Norway, but his reign eventually managed to put an end to the internal conflicts. At the start of his reign, during his minority, his later rival Earl Skule Bårdsson served as regent. As a king of the birkebeiner faction, Haakon defeated the uprising of the final bagler royal pretender, Sigurd Ribbung, in 1227. He put a definitive end to the civil war era when he had Skule Bårdsson killed in 1240, a year after he had himself proclaimed king in opposition to Haakon. Haakon thereafter formally appointed his own son as his co-regent.

Isle of Arran the largest island in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland

Arran or the Isle of Arran is an island off the coast of Scotland, in the United Kingdom. It is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde and the seventh largest Scottish island, at 432 square kilometres (167 sq mi). Historically part of Buteshire, it is in the unitary council area of North Ayrshire. In the 2011 census it had a resident population of 4,629. Though culturally and physically similar to the Hebrides, it is separated from them by the Kintyre peninsula. Often referred to as "Scotland in miniature", the island is divided into highland and lowland areas by the Highland Boundary Fault and has been described as a "geologist's paradise".

Succession

Alexander had married Margaret (his 4th cousin by Henry I of England), daughter of King Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence, on 25 December 1251. [3] She died in 1275, after they had had three children.[ citation needed ]

Margaret of England 13th-century English princess and Queen of Scotland

Margaret of England was Queen of Scots by marriage to King Alexander III.

Henry I of England 12th-century King of England and Duke of Normandy

Henry I, also known as Henry Beauclerc, was King of England from 1100 to his death in 1135. Henry was the fourth son of William the Conqueror and was educated in Latin and the liberal arts. On William's death in 1087, Henry's elder brothers Robert Curthose and William Rufus inherited Normandy and England, respectively, but Henry was left landless. Henry purchased the County of Cotentin in western Normandy from Robert, but William and Robert deposed him in 1091. Henry gradually rebuilt his power base in the Cotentin and allied himself with William against Robert. Henry was present when William died in a hunting accident in 1100, and he seized the English throne, promising at his coronation to correct many of William's less popular policies. Henry married Matilda of Scotland but continued to have a large number of mistresses by whom he had many illegitimate children.

Henry III of England 13th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Henry III, also known as Henry of Winchester, was King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine from 1216 until his death. The son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême, Henry assumed the throne when he was only nine in the middle of the First Barons' War. Cardinal Guala declared the war against the rebel barons to be a religious crusade and Henry's forces, led by William Marshal, defeated the rebels at the battles of Lincoln and Sandwich in 1217. Henry promised to abide by the Great Charter of 1225, which limited royal power and protected the rights of the major barons. His early rule was dominated first by Hubert de Burgh and then Peter des Roches, who re-established royal authority after the war. In 1230, the King attempted to reconquer the provinces of France that had once belonged to his father, but the invasion was a debacle. A revolt led by William Marshal's son, Richard, broke out in 1232, ending in a peace settlement negotiated by the Church.

  1. Margaret (28 February 1261 – 9 April 1283), who married King Eric II of Norway [2]
  2. Alexander, Prince of Scotland (21 January 1264 Jedburgh – 28 January 1284 Lindores Abbey); buried in Dunfermline Abbey
  3. David (20 March 1272 – June 1281 Stirling Castle); buried in Dunfermline Abbey

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." [4]

The Lanercost Chronicle is a northern English history covering the years 1201 to 1346. It covers the Wars of Scottish Independence, but it is also highly digressive and as such provides insights into English life in the thirteenth century as well as Scottish life. It includes Robert the Bruce.

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 [5] on 1 November 1285.

Alexander died in a fall from his horse while riding in the dark to visit the queen at Kinghorn in Fife on 18 March 1286 because it was her birthday the next day. [6] He had spent the evening at Edinburgh Castle celebrating his second marriage and overseeing a meeting with royal advisors. He was advised by them not to make the journey to Fife because of weather conditions, but he travelled anyway. 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 with a broken neck. Some texts have said that he fell off a cliff. [7] 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." [8] After Alexander's death, his strong realm was plunged into a period of darkness that would eventually lead to war with England. 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, probably with a miscarriage, Alexander's seven-year-old granddaughter Margaret, Maid of Norway, 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 the Guardians of Scotland governing the land.

The death of Alexander and the subsequent period of instability in Scotland was lamented in an early Scots poem recorded by Andrew of Wyntoun in his Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland.

Quhen Alexander our kynge was dede,
That Scotlande lede in lauche and le,
Away was sons of alle and brede,
Off wyne and wax, of gamyn and gle.
Our golde was changit into lede.
Crist, borne in virgynyte,
Succoure Scotlande, and ramede,
That is stade in perplexite. [9]

In 1886, a monument to Alexander III was erected at the approximate location of his death in Kinghorn. [10]

Fictional portrayals

Statue of Alexander on the west door of St. Giles, Edinburgh Alexander III statue, West door of St. Giles, Edinburgh.jpg
Statue of Alexander on the west door of St. Giles, Edinburgh

Alexander III has been depicted in historical novels. They include: [11]

Ancestry

Notes

  1. "Alexander III (1241 - 1286)".
  2. 1 2 3 "Alexander III, King of Scots 1249 – 1286", Scotland's History, BBC
  3. Margaret MacArthur (12 July 2017). History of Scotland. Merkaba Press via PublishDrive. pp. 25–. PKEY:6610000020409.
  4. Maxwell, Herbert, ed. (1909). "Chronicle of Lanercost". The Scottish Historical Review. 6: 184. Retrieved 8 Aug 2016.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ""Death of Alexander III", Foghlam Alba". Archived from the original on 2015-07-14. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  6. Marshall, Rosalind K. (2003). Scottish Queens, 1034-1714. Tuckwell Press. p. 27.
  7. Wood, James, ed. (1920). The Nuttall Encyclopaedia. London: Warne. p. 13. Retrieved 8 August 2016.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  8. Mount, Toni (2015). Dragon's Blood & Willow Bark: The Mysteries of Medieval Medicine. Stroud, Glos.: Amberley. p. n.p. ISBN   978-1445643830 . Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  9. Watson, Roderick (2007). Literature of Scotland: The Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century (2nd ed.). Basingstoke, Hants.: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 26. ISBN   978-0230000377 . Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  10. "Alexander III Monument, Kinghorn", British Listed Buildings
  11. 1 2 Nield (1968), p. 37
  12. "Historical Novel:Medieval Celts"
  13. "Alexander the Glorious", review
  14. Browne, Kreiser (2000), p. 78, 80-81
  15. http://historicalnovelsociety.org. "Insurrection". historicalnovelsociety.org.

Sources

Further reading

Alexander III of Scotland
Born: 4 September 1241 Died: 19 March 1286
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Alexander II
King of Scots
1249–1286
Vacant
Title next held by
Margaret
as queen-designate

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Margaret, known as the Maid of Norway, was the queen-designate of Scotland from 1286 until her death. She was the daughter of King Eric II of Norway and Margaret of Scotland. By the end of the reign of her maternal grandfather, King Alexander III of Scotland, she was his only surviving descendant and recognized heir presumptive. Alexander III died in 1286, his posthumous child was stillborn, and Margaret inherited the crown. Due to her young age, she remained in Norway rather than going to Scotland. Her father and the Scottish leaders negotiated her marriage to Edward of Caernarfon, son of King Edward I of England. She was finally sent to the British Isles in September 1290, but died in Orkney, sparking off the succession dispute between thirteen competitors for the crown of Scotland.

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Yolande of Dreux was a sovereign Countess of Montfort from 1311 until 1322. Through her first marriage to Alexander III of Scotland, Yolande became Queen consort of the Kingdom of Scotland. Through her second marriage to Arthur II, Duke of Brittany, she became Duchess Consort of Brittany.

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