Alexander III

Alexander III

Alexander III was crowned king at Scone at the age of just eight years old in 1249. His minority saw the usual squabble develop between rival factions intent on ruling in his name. In 1251 he was married to Margaret, the daughter of Henry III and the English king soon demanded homage from Alexander which was not forthcoming.

Alexander took power for himself at the age of 21 in 1262. He immediately set about claiming the Western Isles and provoked the Norwegian king Hakon into a full scale invasion. Hakon had some success demanding tribute from the families in the Isles but things slowed down when he entered into negotiations with Alexander. By October 1263 the Norwegians were running low on supplies and a storm damaged some of their ships. Battle broke out at Largs and the Norwegians withdrew, neither king took part in the battle and both claimed a victory of sorts. The Norwegians left and with Hakon dead Alexander was able to secure the Isles for Scotland, after 1266 only Orkney and Shetland remained in Norwegian hands.

In 1274 Alexander attended the coronation of Edward I in London, he refused to pay homage and even managed to claim expenses from the English for the trip. Relations between Alexander and Edward remained cordial for the rest of his reign. Alexander's wife died in August of 1274 and over the next few years he also lost his children, leaving him without an heir.

Alexander got remarried, to the French Countess Yolande, in 1285 but just a few months later he was dead. He was returning home to Kinghorn from Edinburgh to see his wife and it was stormy night. Alexander lost his guides after crossing the Forth and fell from his horse, he was found dead on the shore the next morning 19th March 1286. Alexander had brought peace and stability to Scotland but his death plunged the nation into a crisis which was to drag on for years.

The throne fell to Margaret, Maid of Norway but she died in 1290 on her way to Scotland. A number of rival claims to the throne emerged, the English king Edward I, whom Alexander had been very friendly with, was invited to help Scotland solve the succession dispute, but of course he had other ideas.