James II (Scotland)

James II

b. 16 Oct 1430, Holyrood, Edinburgh [1]
d. 3 Aug 1460, near Roxburgh, Scottish Borders [2]

Title: Dei gratia Rex Scottorum = By the grace of God, King of the Scots
Term: c. 20 Feb 1437 - 3 Aug 1460
Chronology: c. 20 Feb 1437, succeeded to the throne of Scotland
25? (20?) Mar 1437, crowned, Abbey of Holyrood, Edinburgh [3]
3 Aug 1460, died (killed by accident)
Names/titles: Private name: James Stewart; Gaelic name: Seumas; byname: 'James with the fiery face' (after a birthmark covering half of his face)
The younger of twin sons born to King James I and Joan Beaufort; became heir apparent after his elder brother, Alexander, died in infancy; succeeded his father under tutelage of his mother, who exercised royal authority together with chancellor Bishop Cameron of Glasgow, and were later joined by Archibald, 5th Earl of Douglas, appointed lieutenant-general (bf. 17 Nov 1438 - 26 Jun 1439) by the Estates; was forcibly removed from the keeping of his mother (1439) and placed in custody of Sir Alexander Livingston of Callendar and his family, which raised in prominence and allied with the Black Douglases, powerful magnates; was declared of age (1444), but continued to be fully dependent on the Livingston-Douglas alliance; married Marie de Guelders, daughter of Arnold duc de Guelders (3 Jul 1449), gradually emerging as an adult sovereign; imprisoned Sir Alexander Livingston, his relatives and associates (23 Sep 1449), who were later tried and forfeited (1450); personally stabbed William, 8th Earl of Douglas (22 Feb 1452), apparently for his refusal to break a bond with rebellious nobles; fought a number of battles against the Black Douglases, culminating in the Battle of Arkinholme (1 May 1455); attached the forfeited lands of the Black Douglases to royal domain; consolidated Stewart power by distributing the lands to the Crown supporters despite moderate opposition in the Estates (Act of Annexation, etc.); attempted to recover Berwick and Roxburgh from the English and planned an abortive invasion of the Isle of Man; renounced the Anglo-Scottish truce and invaded English possessions (1456); was involved in extensive negotiations with the monarchs of Castile, Denmark, and France; killed by the bursting of a cannon at the siege of Roxburgh.
Biographical sources: "James II", by Christine McGladdery (Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers, 1990)

[1] Scotichronicon, 9, Book XVI, c. 16; Book of Pluscarden, Book XI, c. 5; Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 4, preface, p. cv.
[2] Auchinleck Chronicle 20, 57 in "James II", op. cit.: "1460, the third sonday of august", but this appears to be a mistake for Sunday 3rd of August as Roxburgh was taken on the following Friday, 8 Aug 1460 ("... and on the fryday efter richt wysly and manfully wan the foresaid castell..."); Scotichronicon, 9, Book XVI, c. 2; Extracta E Variis Cronicis Scocie, 244: "Et sic propheticum illud est, Mortuus Castrum Marchmonde vel Roxburgh ab Anglis obtinebit: hoc est, Jacobus Secundus, qui moritur tercio Augusti anno Domini millesimo quadringentesimo lx."; Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 6, preface, p. 64.
[3] The date 25 Mar 1437 does not appear in any manuscript source. Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 2:31, dated the parliament to 25 Mar 1437, silently altering its sources. 25 Mar 1437 therefore remains the most likely date for the parliament and coronation, but 20 Mar 1437 cannot be ruled out entirely. Cf. Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, 1437/3/1. Date accessed: 10 November 2008.
Image: contemporary drawing by Jorg von Ehingen, a visitor to the court of Scotland.
Last updated on: 13 Mar 2010 01:33:43