Saturday, October 16, 2010

James II of Scotland Born

'Robert Grahame,

That killed our king, God give him shame.
James I. had two sons ; but one dying in infancy, he left behind him only James II., who in his childhood succeeded to his father's throne. The late king had five daughters, who were married, four of them into noble families abroad, while the youngest was wedded to the earl of Angus.'

As Sir Walter Scott tells us in his "The History of Scotland", the future James II of Scotland inherited his father's throne at an early age.  James was born on October 16, 1430, and was coronated following his father's assassination on February 21, 1437.  James II was 7 years old at the time.

James' reign, which began with the violent murder of his father, was itself marred by a murder which James himself committed.  Fifteen years after his father's death, nearly to the day (February 22, 1452), James slew William, the 8th Earl of Douglas (son of James the 7th Earl and Beatrice Sinclair) at Stirling Castle.  William traveled to Stirling when James offered safe conduct so that the two could repair their relations.  The main dispute concerned an alliance William made with Alexander Lindsay.  William refused to dissolve the alliance, and James stabbed him numerous times before throwing him out a castle window.  As Scott conjectures:

'...But the reader may demand, what could be the purpose of James, if not to rid himself of his turbulent subject by death. If we are to substitute conjecture where certainty is not to be had, we may suggest the probability that the king had determined to arrest Douglas in case he was found intractable, and to detain him a hostage for the quiet demeanour of his family, until his league with the northern earls was broken, and the height of his dangerous power was in some degree diminished. There might be in this device some part of the policy, as well as the unscrupulous breach of faith, which characterised the politics of such a statesman as Crichton; and considering the vehement character of James II. and the stubborn and presumptuous disposition of the earl, it is easy to conceive how, in a personal interview betwixt two such hot and passionate spirits, the intended purpose of arrest should have been changed for one of a more bloody and decisive character.'

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