Alexander II


The Great Seal of Alexander II

Alexander II was sixteen years old when he was crowned king on the 6th of December 1214. His father had died 2 days earlier and Alexander was soon put to the test as a Northern rising by MacWilliam and MacHeth threatened royal authority. The loyalist Farquhar put the rising down for his new king.

In England civil war was breaking out between King John I and his barons. Alexander had ties with the barons and by October 1215 found himself sieging Norham castle. The barons in the north of England paid homage to Alexander in the hope he would protect them from John. In 1216 John invaded Scotland and seized Berwick having already reclaimed most of the north of England. Alexander counter attacked in Cumberland but there was no decisive battle.

The English barons determined to get rid of John and to that end asked the French heir Louis to come and claim the throne. Alexander took the north of England again and pressed on south to meet Louis where he paid homage for the northern counties and the two agreed not to make peace with John without including the other in the deal. Alexander had to return in a hurry as John made a final raid but on the 19th of October John died.

Alexander was invited to help choose the next English king in proceedings which never took place because nine year old Henry III was crowned at the end of October. A struggle continued as Louis was defeated and peace eventually emerged in 1217, Alexander handed back Carlisle and paid homage for his English lands to Henry III at Northampton. Alexander's claim to the northern counties of England was still unresolved and the papacy got involved in affairs. In 1220 Alexander agreed to marry one of Henry's sisters and with the marriage in 1221 an agreement of sorts was reached.

Around 1235 there was an uprising in Galloway which Alexander successfully subdued. He also reiterated his claims in the north of England and finally in 1237 got a settlement of lands and cash which satisfied him. In 1243 the peace was threatened when Henry got information that Alexander was plotting against him with the king of France. It looked as though Henry might invade but when the two kings met at Newcastle in 1244 they were able to renew the peace between them.

For the rest of his reign Alexander concentrated on subduing the western isles and bringing them under royal authority. Many of the regions considered themselves independent and held allegiances to Norway. Alexander led a force north to impose royal authority but on his way there in 1249 he came down with a fever and died. He was succeeded by his eight year old son, Alexander III.