James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Douglas

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James Douglas
Earl of Douglas
Earl of Mar
Earl of Douglas
Seal of 2nd Earl of Douglas.jpg
Seal of the 2nd Earl of Douglas and Mar
Predecessor William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas
Successor Archibald Douglas, 3rd Earl of Douglas
Died14 August 1388
killed at Otterburn, Northumberland
Melrose Abbey [1]
Noble family Douglas
William Douglas, Archibald Douglas (both illegitimate)
Father William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas
Mother Margaret, Countess of Mar

Sir James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Douglas and Mar (c. 1358 – 14 August 1388) was an influential and powerful magnate in the Kingdom of Scotland.

Earl of Douglas

This page is concerned with the holders of the forfeit title Earl of Douglas and the preceding feudal barons of Douglas, South Lanarkshire. The title was created in the Peerage of Scotland in 1358 for William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas, son of Sir Archibald Douglas, Guardian of Scotland. The Earldom was forfeited by James Douglas, 9th Earl of Douglas in 1455.

Earl of Mar Wikimedia list article

The title Mormaer or Earl of Mar has been created several times, all in the Peerage of Scotland. Owing to a 19th-century dispute, there are currently two Earls of Mar as both the first and seventh creations are currently extant. The first creation of the earldom was originally the provincial ruler of the province of Mar in north-eastern Scotland. First attested in the year 1014, the "seat" or "caput" eventually became Kildrummy Castle, although other sites like Doune of Invernochty were initially just as important.

Magnate noble family

A magnate, from the late Latin magnas, a great man, itself from Latin magnus, "great", is a noble or a man in a high social position, by birth, wealth or other qualities. In reference to the Middle Ages, the term is often used to distinguish higher territorial landowners and warlords such as counts, earls, dukes, and territorial-princes from the baronage.


Early life

Arms of the Earl of Douglas and Mar Blason Douglas-Mar.svg
Arms of the Earl of Douglas and Mar
Pennon of James Douglas, Earl of Douglas. Pennon of James Douglas, Earl of Moray from Otterburn 001.jpg
Pennon of James Douglas, Earl of Douglas.

He was the eldest son and heir of William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas and Margaret, Countess of Mar. By the time his father had made over lands in Liddesdale to him in 1380, he had been knighted, being known as Sir James Douglas of Liddesdale. [2] Earlier his father had been in dispute with King Robert over the latter's succession to King David II, but returned to royal favour by concluding a marriage contract between his son and the Princess Isabel, thus binding the Douglas family close to the throne. [3]

William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas Scottish noble

William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas was a Scottish nobleman, peer, and magnate.

Margaret of Mar was Countess of Mar, an ancient earldom in Scotland, in her own right.


Liddesdale, the valley of the Liddel Water, in the County of Roxburgh, southern Scotland, extends in a south-westerly direction from the vicinity of Peel Fell to the River Esk, a distance of 21 miles (34 km). The Waverley route of the North British Railway runs down the dale, and the Catrail, or Picts' Dyke, crosses its head.

Earl of Douglas and Mar

In May 1384, the 1st Earl of Douglas died from a fever, and his son inherited. [4] Around the same time a French embassy arrived in Scotland to negotiate a truce between the Franco-Scots Allies and England. While deliberations were taking place in Edinburgh, a further party of French knights arrived at Montrose. These adventurers led by Geoffroi de Charny, sent word to the court at Edinburgh, from Perth where they had marched to, in which they offered their services against the English [5] The new Earl of Douglas, and Sir David Lindsay mustered their men and joined forces with the French knights. They then led a raid into England where they ravaged lands belonging to the Percy Earl of Northumberland, and the Mowbray Earl of Nottingham. [6] While this Chevauchée was happening, the Scots agreed to the tripartite truce on 7 July which was to last until May the following year. De Charny and his knights returned to France but promised to Douglas that they would return as soon as possible.

Kingdom of France kingdom in Western Europe from 843 to 1791

The Kingdom of France was a medieval and early modern monarchy in Western Europe. It was one of the most powerful states in Europe and a great power since the Late Middle Ages and the Hundred Years' War. It was also an early colonial power, with possessions around the world.

Auld Alliance

The Auld Alliance was an alliance made in 1295 between the kingdoms of Scotland and France. The alliance was formed for the purpose of controlling England's numerous invasions. The Scots word auld, meaning old, has become a partly affectionate term for the long-lasting alliance between the two countries. It remained until the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh in 1560.

Kingdom of England historic sovereign kingdom on the British Isles (927–1649; 1660–1707)

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

In 1385 when the truce expired, Douglas made war on the English. [7] The French were as good as their word and had previously arrived at Leith with a contingent of Chivalry, armour and monies. The French under Jean de Vienne, Admiral of France joined forces with the Scots. Finding that the army of Richard II of England was numerically superior to the Franco-Scots, Douglas allowed the English to advance to Edinburgh, wisely refusing battle, the English army destroyed the Abbies of Melrose, Newbattle and Dryburgh, as well as burning the burgh of Haddington and the capital itself. Douglas contented himself with a destructive counter-raid on Carlisle and Durham, leading the French, and the men of Galloway, under his cousin Archibald the Grim. Disputes soon arose between the allies, and the French returned home at the end of the year.

Leith district and former municipal burgh in Scotland

Leith is an area to the north of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, at the mouth of the Water of Leith.

Jean de Vienne French admiral and general

Jean de Vienne was a French knight, general and Admiral of France during the Hundred Years' War.

Admiral of France

Admiral of France is a French title of honour. It is the naval equivalent of Marshal of France and was one of the Great Officers of the Crown of France.

1386 saw squabbling between the Earl of Northumberland, and John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby over the wardenship of the Eastern March. Roger de Clifford, 5th Baron de Clifford, the warden of the Western March, was engaged to keep the peace between the rivals. While Clifford was away from his duties in the west, Douglas accompanied by the Earl of Fife led a force deep into Cumberland, and raided and burnt the town of Cockermouth. [8]

John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby English peer and soldier

John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby, was an English peer and soldier.

Roger de Clifford, 5th Baron de Clifford High Sheriff of Westmorland

Roger de Clifford, 5th Baron de Clifford, ninth Lord Clifford, fifth Baron of Westmoreland, was the son of Robert de Clifford, 3rd Baron de Clifford, second son of Robert de Clifford, 1st Baron de Clifford (1273–1314), the founder of the northern branch of the family. His mother was Isabella, daughter of Maurice, 2nd Lord Berkeley. He succeeded his elder brother, Robert de Clifford, 4th Baron de Clifford in 1350, on which day he made proof of his age.

Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany Duke of Albany

Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, a member of the Scottish royal house, served as regent to three different Scottish monarchs. He also held the titles of Earl of Menteith, Earl of Fife, Earl of Buchan and Earl of Atholl, in addition to his 1398 creation as Duke of Albany. A ruthless politician, Albany was widely regarded as having caused the murder of his nephew, the Duke of Rothesay, and brother to the future King James I of Scotland. James was held in captivity in England for eighteen years, during which time Albany served as regent in Scotland, king in all but name. He died in 1420 and was succeeded by his son, Murdoch Stewart, Duke of Albany, who would be executed for treason when James returned to Scotland in 1425, almost causing the complete ruin of the Albany Stewarts.

Otterburn and death

Near contemporary depiction of the Battle of Otterburn Otterburn Battle.jpg
Near contemporary depiction of the Battle of Otterburn
Captured Pennon of Hotspur Pennon of Sir Henry (Hotspur) Percy, Battle of Otterburn.jpg
Captured Pennon of Hotspur

Invasion of England

In 1388 Richard II had domestic troubles with his recalcitrant barons and was occupied far to the south, and the time seemed right for invasion to avenge the destruction of 1385.

The Scots, following an agreement made between the nobility at Aberdeen, mustered at Jedburgh in August, including the levies of the earls of Fife, March, Moray and those of Archibald the Grim. Upon finding from an English spy, that the English warden Percy was aware of the muster, and was planning a counter strike, the Scots command decided to split the army, with Fife leading the main body into Cumberland, while a smaller mounted force under Douglas was to go east and despoil Northumberland.

Aberdeen City and council area in Scotland

Aberdeen is a city in northeast Scotland. It is Scotland's third most populous city, one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas and the United Kingdom's 37th most populous built-up area, with an official population estimate of 196,670 for the city of Aberdeen and 228,800 for the local council area.

Jedburgh Town in Scotland

Jedburgh is a town and former royal burgh in the Scottish Borders and the traditional county town of the historic county of Roxburghshire.

John Dunbar, Earl of Moray was a Scottish nobleman.

Douglas' force entered England through Redesdale and proceeded south to Brancepeth laying waste to the countryside. From there the turned east to encircle Newcastle.

Newcastle was held by Northumberland's sons, Sir Henry Percy, known as "Hotspur", and his brother Sir Ralph Percy. Northumberland himself remained at Alnwick Castle, hoping to outflank Douglas should he attempt to return to Scotland.

The Scots, without the siege equipment to invest the Castle, encamped around it. The week that followed saw constant skirmishes and challenges to single combat between the two sides, that culminated when Douglas challenged Hotspur to a duel. In the ensuing joust Douglas successfully felled Hotspur and was able to capture his pennon. According to Froissart, Douglas announced that he would "carry [the pennon] to Scotland and hoist it on my tower, where it may be seen from afar", to which Hotspur retorted "By God! You will never leave Northumberland alive with that."

Battle of Otterburn

Wounded Douglass in the battle field But thanks be to God, there few of my ancestors who have died in their beds.jpg
Wounded Douglass in the battle field

The following day the Scots struck camp and marched to Ponteland where they destroyed its castle, and then on to Otterburn just 30 miles from Newcastle, Douglas appeared to be tarrying to see whether Hotspur would react.

Douglas chose his encampment in a wood with an eye to protect his force from English archery. But on the evening of the 5 August, the Percies surprised the Scots and a bloody moonlit battle ensued. Douglas was mortally wounded during the fight, but because of the confusion of fighting in darkness this fact was not transmitted to his men who carried on the battle. Froissart gives account in detail of the various individuals wounded, captured or killed, but what is known is that the Scots won the encounter taking Hotspur and many others prisoner. Douglas' body was found on the field the following day. The Scots, albeit saddened by the loss of their leader, were heartened enough by the victory, to frighten off English reinforcements led by Walter Skirlaw, the Bishop of Durham the following day.

Douglas' body was then removed back across the Border and he was interred at Melrose Abbey.

The battle, as narrated by Jean Froissart, forms the basis of the English and Scottish ballads The Ballad of Chevy Chase and The Battle of Otterburn .

Marriage and issue

Douglas married Isabel, a daughter of King Robert II of Scotland. He left no legitimate male issue. His natural sons William and Archibald became the ancestors of the families of Douglas of Drumlanrig (see Marquess of Queensberry) and Douglas of Cavers. His sister Isabel inherited the lands and earldom of Mar, and the unentailed estates of Douglas. Isabel arranged for the Bonjedward estate to be passed to their half-sister, Margaret, who became 1st Laird of Bonjedward.

The earldom and entailed estates of Douglas reverted by the patent of 1358 to Archibald Douglas, called "The Grim", cousin of the 1st Earl and a natural son of The "Good" Sir James Douglas.

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  1. Sadler, p.283
  2. Maxwell, vol I, p.99
  3. Maxwell, vol I, p87-9
  4. Maxwell, vol. I, p.93
  5. Maxwell, vol. I p.100
  6. Maxwell, vol I, p100
  7. Parliament records, 17 June 1385
  8. Maxwell, vol I, p105


Further reading

Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
William Douglas
Douglas Arms 3.svg
Earl of Douglas

Succeeded by
Archibald Douglas
Preceded by
William Douglas
Earl of Mar
Succeeded by
Isabel Douglas