Saturday, September 4, 2010

Alexander III of Scotland

On September 4, 1241, the future King Alexander III of Scotland was born at Roxburgh.  His coronation took place eight years later, on Moot Hill, inside Scone Abbey.  The Isle of Man and the Western Isles became Scottish under Alexander's reign, by the Treaty of Perth (1266) with Norway's Magnus VI.  Alexander made Angus MacDonald first Lord of the Isles.

Alexander's reign was a strong one.  He married Henry III of England's daughter Margaret, but refused Henry the homage he demanded.  His death without a living male heir left a vacumn that enable Henry's son Edward I of England to embark on his acquisitive efforts in Scotland.

Walter Scott devotes substantial time to Alexander's reign, including this passage, from "Tales of a Grandfather":


Death of Alexander III. of Scotland, and Usurpation of Edward I. of England*

Seven kings of Scotland, omitting one or two temporary occupants of the throne, had reigned in succession, after Malcolm Canmore, the son of Duncan, who recovered the kingdom from Macbeth. Their reigns occupied a period of nearly two hundred years. Some of them were very able men; all of them were well-disposed, good sovereigns, and inclined to discharge their duty towards their subjects. They made good laws; and, considering the barbarous and ignorant times they lived in, they appear to have been men as deserving of praise as any race of kings who reigned in Europe during that period. Alexander, the third of that name, and the last of these seven princes, was an excellent sovereign. He married, as I told you in the last chapter, Margaret, daughter of Henry III. of England ; but unhappily all the children who were born of that marriage died before their father. After the death of Queen Margaret, Alexander married another wife; but he did not live to have any family by her. As he was riding in the dusk of the evening, along the sea-coast of Fife, betwixt Burntisland and Kinghorn, he approached too near the brink of the precipice, and his horse starting or stumbling, he was thrown over the rock, and killed on the spot. It is now no less than five hundred and forty-two years since Alexander's death, yet the people of the country still point out the very spot where it happened, and which is called the King's Crag...'

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