Saturday, March 19, 2011


On March 19, 1286 (OS), King Alexander III of Scotland died.  His death was caused by a broken neck, suffered while riding to Fife to visit his new queen, Yolande of Dreux.  Wife number two, it was hoped, would provide a replacement heir for the children Alexander had recently lost; Margaret, Alexander, and David all preceded him to the grave.  Walter Scott includes this historical note on Alexander (in a section on Sir Patrick Spens) in his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border":

'Alexander III. of Scotland died in 1286; and, for the misfortune of his country, as well as his own, he had been bereaved of all his children before his decease. The crown of Scotland descended upon his grand-daughter, Margaret, termed, by our historians, the Maid of Norway. She was the only offspring of a marriage betwixt Eric, King of Norway, and Margaret, daughter of Alexander III. The kingdom had oeen secured to her by the Parliament of Scotland held at Scone, the year preceding her grandfather's death. The regency of Scotland entered into a congress with the ministers of the King of Norway, and with those of England, for the establishment of good order in the kingdom of the infant Princess. Shortly afterwards, Edward I. conceived the idea of matching his eldest son, Edward, Prince of Wales, with the young Queen of Scotland. The plan was eagerly embraced by the Scottish nobles; for, at that time, there was little of the national animosity, which afterwards blazed betwixt the countries, and they patriotically looked forward to the important advantage of uniting the island of Britain into one kingdom. But Eric of Norway seems to have been unwilling to deliver up his daughter: and, while the negotiations were thus protracted. the death of the Maid of Norway effectually crushed a scheme, the consequences of which might have been, that the distinction betwixt England and Scotland would, in our day. have been as obscure and uninteresting as that of the realms of the heptarchy. — Hailes Annals. Fordun, &c.'

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