David II


David II

David II was born in 1324, the son of Robert the Bruce and his second wife Elizabeth de Burgh. He was crowned at Scone in 1331 following the death of his father in 1329.

Edward III had succeeded to the English throne in 1327 and with the death of Robert I many disinherited lords in England saw their chance to return home. Led by Edward Balliol (son of John) they invaded Scotland and defeated a superior force led by Guardian Donald of Mar who was killed in the battle. Balliol had already sworn to recognise Edward III as overlord of Scotland and so when he was crowned king at Scone in September 1332 he repaid the English king for his help.

However Balliol was not able to hang onto the throne and soon fled back to England. Edward III was intent on following the policy of his grandfather and prepared to invade Scotland supporting Balliol once more. In 1333 Balliol and an English army crossed the border and Edward III himself soon joined them to siege Berwick.

David II was offered refuge in France and he arrived there at the invitation of Phillip VI in 1334. The English and Balliol were able to assume control of most of Scotland but could get no settlement that would stick and by 1341 their power was fading. David II was able to return home and start his rule proper in the same year. He was quick to reward those who had fought in his name and like his father awarded his closest allies the confiscated lands of his enemies.

A truce was reached in 1344 but it broke down the following year. The English invaded France and met with some success at Caen, this prompted a Scottish invasion led by David in October 1346. There were some initial successes in the north of England for the Scots but when David encountered an English army at Neville's Cross everything went wrong. Under heavy archer fire some of the Scots fled and David himself was hit in the face with an arrow. The king along with many of his nobles was captured and imprisoned.

The English were able to win back control of much of Scotland and were only slowed by an outbreak of Black Death in 1347. Scots magnates negotiated unsuccessfully for a number of years to try and obtain the release of their king. In 1352 David was able to return to Scotland on parole and present Edward's terms for his release to the Scots. For a ransom of £40,000 and a concession that if he produced no heir the Scottish throne would fall to one of Edward's sons David would secure his freedom. The Scots were willing to pay the ransom but would not be subject to the king of England and so David, unwilling to start a civil war over it, had to return to the Tower later that year.

It wasn't until 1357 after eleven years in captivity that David was able to return home for a straight ransom of £66,666. The Scots defaulted on the payment and in 1363 David entered fresh negotiations with Edward. Once more Edward asserted his desire that David, should he die without an heir, would allow one of Edward's sons to succeed to the throne of Scotland. The Scots rejected him again and could only secure a truce by raising the ransom payable to the English king up to £100,000.

In 1369 the situation changed as war loomed once more between France and England and Edward could not afford for the Scots to support the French. The ransom was reduced back to the original amount and Edward dropped his other demands.

David II was able to increase the income of the crown throughout the latter period of his reign and he left it in a healthy position. He had suffered through a difficult reign in which he faced a worthy opponent in Edward III. Sadly despite three marriages David was unable to produce an heir and he died unexpectedly in 1371 leaving his nephew Robert the Steward the throne. This marked the beginning of the Stewart Dynasty.