European Royalty: Scotland

Figure 1.--.

The Scottish monarchy has a rather complicated history. For many years as kingdoms began to form in England to the south after the Anglo-Saxon invasions, Scotland was the domin of a number of local rulers with often small territories and peoples. There was for a long period no cottish national identity. A single monach able to control most of what is modern Scotland finally emerged (12th century). The Scottish crown became hotly contested (13th century). There was both domestic challenges as well as English invasions threatening the continued existence of an independent Scotland. Scotland was able to remain independent ans in part because of the struggle for indeoendence from England, a sence of Scottish nationhood developed. As a stable monarchical succession developed, the Stuart dynasty emerged. We have only begun to develop information on Scottish monarchs. Some are legegadary figures like King Robert the Bruce. The most famous is perhaps Mary Queen of Scotts. Her son was the last destictively Scottish monarch, James VI, but she founded a line of English monarchs--the Stuarts.

Early Rulers and Peoples (1st-9th centuries)

There was until the high medieval era no unifoed Scottish nation or people, let alone a Scottish king. The early rulers of wht is now Scotland might be best described as war lords or tribal chiefs rather than kings. Several different people came to inhabit Scotland or the area to the north of Hadrians Wall during the Roman era. The Romans called Scotland Caledonia and found the Picts a difficult people to overcome. In the end they decided that the conquest was not worth the cost. As medieval period developed, the Pictts dominated the Highlnd, the area north of the rivers Forth and Clyde--Pictavia. The Picts were driven north by Gaels (Irish Celtic tribes)) tribes who invaded after the departure of the Roman Legions. They called themselves Scotts. It is they rather than the Picts that modern Scotland derives its name. The Scotts settled in Argyll in southwest Scotland (5th and 6th centuries). The Scottish domains evolved into Dalriada. The Angles, one of the invading German tribes, seized Lothian (6th century). The Germanic invaders (Angles, Saxons and Jutes) waged a war of extinction against Celtic Britons that were largely unprepared militarily when the Legions departed. The Britons were driven west into the far reaches of Briton (Wales and Cornwall). Others retreated north, settling in Strathclyde. The final piece of the Scottish national tapestry came with the final Germanic invasion--the Vikings or Norsemen. They raided Scottish communities and settled in various locations along the northern and western perifery of Scotlansd Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, Sutherland and the Western Isles. These different people of course had no common identity and went not raiding south into England often passed their time warring with each other. They were preliterate peoples and there is thus no written record of this period of Scottish history. The Scots gradually emerged as the dominant force over large areas of Scotland. This is in part because the Picts bore the brunt of the early Viking raids and were seriously weakened.

The Alpins (848-1034)

The first important step toward national unification occured when Kenneth MacAlpin became king of both the Picts and Scots (840s). Kenneth was a Gael (Irish) and King of Dalriada. Kennethb and his immediate successors ruled as Rex Pictorum (King of the Picts). Gradually the name changed and Donald II (889-900)styled himself King of Alba. It was Malcolm II (1005-1034), the last of the Alpins who first styled himself Rex Scotiae. There were challenges to the dominance of the Scotts, the most important came from the Viking settlements in the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland. The Scotts have left us lists of their early kings. But all tht is known about most of these kings is when they seized the throne and wgen they died. There was no organized system of monarchial secession. Most Scottish kings seized the crown by defeating and killing the reining monarch. One of the greatest mounuments to this period of Scottish history is the island of Iona. Many Scottish, Irish and Norwegian kings are buried in the abbey and grave yard there. There is no surviving literature from this era. Two of the best-known kings (Macbeth and Malcolm Canmore) are remmbered primarily because of Shakespeare's "Macbeth". but the play other than the names of the two kings has no real basis in Scottish history. The Alpins divided into two branches which often struggled for the crown. Malcolm II was the last Alpin. Hemanaged to firmly establish his control over Scotland and rooting out all opposition. He had, however, no sons. He passed his united kingdome to his daughter's son, Duncan I who thus dounded the Dunkeld dynasty.

Dunkelds (1034-1286)

Duncan I inherited a united kingdom from his grandfather, Malcolm II. This represented a shift from Scottish hereditary customs and towards a the acceptance of primogeniture, a system which had evolved in England and much of Western Europe. This system was threatened when Duncan was challenged by his cousin, Macbeth. Duncan was killed in battle. but Duncan's son Malcolm III, however, defeated and killed both Macbeth and his step-son and heir Lulach (1057-1058). Malcolm was thus able to reclainm the throne. The dynastic feuds, however, threatened to unravel the unified kingdom that Malcom II had left Duncan I. Malcolm III was also killed in battle. Donalbane, Malcolm's vrother, claimed the throne in vilation of the primogeniture system. He proceeded to exile Malcolm's sons. This gave rise to civil war. Donalbane and Malcolm's son Edmund fought Malcolm's other sons (Duncan II and Edgar). Edgar eventually won out. He confined Donalbane and Edmund to monasteries. After the civil war the system of primogeniture was firmly established in Scotland.

Fairhairs (1286-90)

Alexander III was the final Dunkeld king. He had two sons and a daughter, but his sons died. His daughter Margaret married Eric II of Norway. But they had only one child--a daughter. Alexander remarried, but unexpectedly died (1286). His new wife, Yolande of Dreux, was pregnant but the child was still borne. Under the terms of the Treaty of Salisbury, the Guardians of Scotland recognised Alexander's granddaughter, Margaret of Norway, as Queen of Scots. Margaret remained with her father in Norway. She finally set out for Scotland (1290). She died in the Orkneys having never set reached the Scottish mainland. Thus she was never formally crowbed at Scone.

Balliols (1292-1296)

Margaret's unexpected death resulted in a secession crisis. There were no close reltives that were obvious candidates for the throne. Alexander III's direct line was extincr, but so was that of his fther (Alexander II) and grandfather (William I). Thirteen candidates argued their case. The most important were John de Balliol (great-grandson of William I's younger brother David of Huntingdon) and Robert de Brus, Lord of Annandale, (David of Huntingdon's grandson). The Scottish Magnates to avoid another civil war invited Edward I of England to judge the claims. Edward agreed to do so, but also demanded that the Scots to swear allegiance to him as overlord. Edward selected John de Balliol to become Scotland's new King. John proved incompetent as a monarch. Edward demanded he abdicate (1296) and then proceeded to incorporate Scotland into the English Kingdom.

Interregnum--Edward I (1296-1306)

Scotland's king for 10 years was Kung Edward I of England (1296-1306). Edward occupied the major strongpoints in Scotland like Stirling Castle. There was at first little opposition and no king around who resistance could be organized. The Scots, however, refused to accept Edward as their soverign and English rule. William Wallace organized the first effective resistance. Wallace delivered a stinging defeat to the English army ar Stirling Bridge. Edward eventually managed to arrest Wallace and had him executed.

Bruces (1306-71)

The struggle for Scottish independence after Edward executed Wallace was then taken up by Robert the Bruce. He was the grandson of the 1292 competitor (Robert de Brus). Robert raised an army that successfully resisted the English. He was crowned King of Scots as Robert I at Scone. Robert faced Edward II who proved a weaker warrior than his famed father. Robert at Bannockburn routed the English army (1314). The cost of constant war and the lack of success finally enduced the English to recognize Scottish independence (1329). Robert was succeded by his son David who was only a boy. The English seized the opportunity and in viloation of the Treaty, launched another effort to subdue Scotland. David had to flee Scotland. Edward Balliol, son of King John, with English support orcestrated his coronation as king. He signed away Scotland's southern counties to England. He proved to be extremely unpopular and had to flee Scotland himself. David lived for a time in France, Scotland's ally. He then was incarcerated in England. He finally managed to return to Scotland and regain his throne (1357). He had no children and thus the Bruce dynasty ended with him (1371). Robert's daughter Marjorie through his first wife Isabella of Mar married Walter Stewart, hereditary High Steward of Scotland (1315). Their son was the cloest male descendent and thus launched the Suart dynast as Robert II.

Stuarts--Scotland (1371-1603)

The House of Stuart developed as an important European royal dynasty. The dynasty was founded by Robert II of Scotland (1371) late-14th cebtury) . Robert II and his descendents became monarchs of Scotland through a marriage link to the Bruces. The Stuarts came from Brittany. They acquired the title of High Steward of Scotland (12th century). The dynasty steadily acquired land throughout the British Isles and through marriage acquired claims to the English, Irish, and French thrones in addition to the Scottish throne. Nine Stuart monarchs ruled Scotland. Scotland under the Stuarts developed from a backward feudal country on the perifery of Europe to a prosperous, modern state. Their rule coincided with the overall European transition the Medieval era to the Renaissance. Scottish monarchs such as James IV sponsored figures of the Northern Renaissance such as poet Robert Henryson. The Stuarts like Scottish monarchs before them had to contend with English efforts to control the country. One strategy to contain the English was to develop an alliance with the French. After Luther Launched the Reformation (1517), Protestatism spread to Scotland. Scottish Protestabntism influenced by John Calvin soon converted the bulk nof the population which divided the Stuarts who remained Catholic from the Scottish people.

Robert II (1371- )

James IV ( -1513)

James IV married Princess Margaret Tudor (1489- ). She was the eldest daughter of King Henry VII England and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV. They married in Edinburgh (1503). The marriage created a connection between the Stuarts and Tudors. It would lead to the execution of James' granddaugter Mary Queen of Scotts and his great grandson James VI inheriting the Englisdh throne from Elizebeth I.

James V (1513- )

James was born at Linlithgow, the son of King James IV and Margaret Tudor, the daughter of King Henry VII and sister to the future Henry VIII (1512). James father was killed at the Battle of Flodden Field (1513). The Scottish Parliament attempted to seize his children, especially the heir to the throne--James V. Queen Margaret stood up to them. The Queen confronted the Lords at the gates of Stirling Castle. The Queen was thus able to maintain her status as regent. Queen Margaret was unable to hold out long. She had to renounced her position as regent after marrying Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. Parliament then seized the children and turned them over to their uncle John Stewart, Duke of Albany. James' childhood became a struggle between Scottish factions favoring England or France. James was not an imposing soverign and was not healthy. He also led a rather irregular life sttle. He was, however, a strong-minded, politically astute soverign whonastutely pursued an independent course for Scotland. He understood the efforts of his Uncle King Henry VII to control him, He also resisted the Scottish nobels attempting to reduce the perogatives of the monarchy. James was a popular king. His habit of mingling with the peasantry endeared them to him. James refused to meet King Henry at York (1536). Pope Paul III presented him with a cap and sword. James fter the break with Henry became the target of English assasinatiomn plots. There was also a failed kidnap plot. Henry concerned about resistance to his relgious policies, made an effort to mend fences (1540). When this failed, he ordered an invasion of Scotland (1542). James moved to block the invasion, but the Scottish nobels refused to provide much support. James forces were defeated at Solway Moss. A disheartened James died a few weeks later, shortly after the birth of his daughter Mary who would play a central role in Stuart Dyanastic history.

Mary Queen of Scotts ( -1587)

Mary was the daughter of King James V. She was raised in France. She ascended to the Scottish throne in 1562 while still in France. She was queen consort of France (1559-60). On the death of her husband she returned to Scotland. Her unwise marital and political actions provoked rebellion among the Scottish nobles. She was forced to abdicate in favor of her son James in 1567. James thus became King James VI of Scotland at only 1 year of age. Mary escaped her Scottish wardens, but was imprisoned in England by her cousin Queen Elizabeth I. She was kept in confinement by Elizabeth for 19 years. Mary as a Catholic and claim the the English throne was a threat to Elizabeth. Elizabeth in 1587 ordered her execution for participating in a Catholic plot to assassinate her.

James VI

Stewarts--England (1603-88)

The first Stewart king of England was James VI of Scotland who became James I of England. His son Chales I lost the English Civil War to Oliver Cromwell and was executed. Charles II (1630-85) was the second, but eldest surviving son of Charles I. His father, Charles I, had been executed by Cromwell, but he and his younger brother James had been spirited away to France for saftey. The throne was restored to Charles in 1660 after the death of Cromwell. Charles pursued a moderate policy offering amnesty to all but the regecides who had signed the orders for his father's execution. James II (1633-1701) was the second surviving son of Charles I. His father, Charles I, had been executed by Cromwell, bit he and his elder brother Charles had been spirited away to France for saftey. James inherited the throne from his elder brother, Charles II, in 1685. His brother had maintained a careful policy aimed at passifying Parliament. James ignored his brother's advise and his militant Catholcism cost him the throne Mary II (married to William III) and Anne were the last Stuart monarchs.

Act of Union

Jacobite Claimants


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Created: December 8, 1998
Last updated: 1:09 AM 9/2/2010