The Origins of the Wars of Independence in Scotland, 1290-1296

Elizabeth Ann Bonner

Abstract


Very late on the 19th March 1286, in the teeth of a howling gale on a dark and stormy night, Scotland's history was changed forever with the death of King Alexander III. Earlier that evening the king had held a meeting of the Privy Council at Edinburgh castle and after a good meal and French wines he decided to return to his voluptuous young pregnant French wife, Yolande, who was staying at one of the king's residences at Kinghorn on the opposite shore of the Firth of Forth. Alexander set out into the stormy night with several of his barons, surviving a perilous crossing from Dalmeny to Inverkeithing. On their journey along the coast road, not far from Kinghorn, the king became separated from his companions and apparently took a wrong turning in the midst of the storm and ended up on the rocks at the foot of the cliffs of Pettycur, where his body with its broken neck was found the next morning. At the time of his death Alexander was forty-four having only recently married Yolande who, following her miscarriage returned to France. Alexander's first wife, Margaret of England, whom he had married in 1251, had died and both their sons, Alexander and David had also died without issue before 1284, leaving the child of their daughter, Margaret, who had married Eric II of Norway, as heir to the crown of Scotland.

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