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Alexander II Of Scotland

Under this Prince, who successfully put down the usual northern risings, the old suit about the claims to Northumberland was finally abandoned for a trifling compensation (1237). Alexander had married Joanna, daughter of King John, and his brother-in-law, Henry III., did not press his demand for homage for Scotland. The usual Celtic pretenders to the throne were for ever crushed. Argyll became a sheriffdom, Galloway was brought into order, and Alexander, who died in the Isle of Kerrera in the bay of Oban (1249), well deserved his title of “a King of Peace.” He was buried in Melrose Abbey. In his reign the clergy were allowed to hold Provincial or Synodal Councils without the presence of a papal Legate (1225), and the Dominicans and Franciscans appeared in Scotland.

Alexander III Of Scotland

The term King of Peace was also applied to Alexander III., son of the second wife of Alexander II., Marie de Coucy. Alexander came to the throne (1249) at the age of eight. As a child he was taken and held (like James II., James III., James V., and James VI.) by contending factions of the nobles, Henry of England intervening. In 1251 he wedded another child, Margaret, daughter of Henry III. of England, but Henry neither forced a claim to hold Scotland during the boy’s minority (his right if Scotland were his fief), nor in other respects pressed his advantage. In February 1261-1262 a girl was born to Alexander at Windsor; she was Margaret, later wife of Eric of Norway. Her daughter, on the death of Alexander III. (March 19, 1286), was the sole direct descendant in the male line.

After the birth of this heiress, Alexander won from Norway the isles of the western coast of Scotland in which Norse chieftains had long held sway. They complained to Hakon of Norway concerning raids made on them by the Earl of Ross, a Celtic potentate. Alexander’s envoys to Hakon were detained, and in 1263, Hakon, with a great fleet, sailed through the islands. A storm blew most of his Armada to shore near Largs, where his men were defeated by the Scots. Hakon collected his ships, sailed north, and (December 15) died at Kirkwall. Alexander now brought the island princes, including the Lord of Man, into subjection; and by Treaty, in 1266, placed them under the Crown. In 1275 Benemund de Vicci (called Bagimont), at a council in Perth, compelled the clergy to pay a tithe for a crusade, the Pope insisting that the money should be assessed on the true value of benefices, that is, on “Bagimont’s Roll,” thenceforth recognised as the basis of clerical taxation. In 1278 Edward I. laboured to extract from Alexander an acknowledgment that he was England’s vassal. Edward signally failed; but a palpably false account of Alexander’s homage was fabricated, and dated September 29, 1278. This was not the only forgery by which England was wont to back her claims.

A series of bereavements (1281-1283) deprived Alexander of all his children save his little grandchild, “the Maid of Norway.” She was recognised by a great national assembly at Scone as heiress of the throne; and Alexander had no issue by his second wife, a daughter of the Comte de Dreux. On the night of March 19, 1285, while Alexander was riding from Edinburgh to visit his bride at Kinghorn, his horse slipped over a cliff and the rider was slain.

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