James III (Scotland)

James III

b. end of May 1452, St. Andrews, Fife [1]
d. 11 Jun 1488, near Stirling, Stirlingshire [2]

Title: Dei gratia Rex Scotorum = By the grace of God, King of the Scots
Term: 3 Aug 1460 - 11 Jun 1488
Chronology: 3 Aug 1460, succeeded to the throne of Scotland
10 Aug 1460, crowned, Kelso Abbey [3]
11 Jun 1488, died (assassination?)
Names/titles: Private name: James Stewart; Gaelic name: Seumas
Biography:
Eldest son of James II and Marie de Guelders; in the age of eight or nine, succeeded to the throne after accidental death of his father; administration was effectively managed by his mother, but there is no record that she was ever officially given the title of regent; after the death of his mother (1 Dec 1463) and of her chief rival, James Kennedy Bishop of St. Andrews (24 May 1465), the king was seized by the Boyds of Kilmarnock at Linlithgow (9 Jul 1466), while Robert, Lord Boyd was appointed governor of the person of the king by Act of Parliament (13 Oct 1466) and confirmed by royal charters (25 Oct 1466); married Margaret (Margrete) of Denmark (10 or 13 Jul 1469), receiving Orkney and Shetland as dowry; terminated the influence of the Boyds by forcing them to flee and passing an act of forfeiture by the Parliament (22 Nov 1469); concentrated his policies on territorial expansion and foreign alliances; pursued arbitrary policy of distributing lands and offices to a party of royal familiars; contacted a marriage alliance (26 Oct 1474) with Edward IV of England, by which Edward's daughter, Cecilia, was betrothed to Prince James (future James IV), but faced a strong opposition in Scotland; put charges of treason and conspiracy against his brothers, Alexander Duke of Albany, who later escaped to France, and John Earl of Mar, who mysteriously died in prison (ca. 1479/1480); after the failure of alliance with England, faced English invasion (1482) led by the Duke of Gloucester (future Richard III) and including the exiled Duke of Albany, claiming the throne of Scotland as a liege of the king of England [4]; was arrested by a group of disaffected nobles, at Lauder Bridge (22 Jul 1482) and imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle; liberated (29 Sep 1482) and reconciled with Albany, who gave up his claims of the throne in exchange for bestowing on him the title of the Earl of Mar (Oct 1482); regained power by early 1483, forcing Albany to flee (forfeited in Parliament 8 Jul 1483S); continued to foster favouritism and attempted to scheme another alliance with England, provoking a rebellion led by his eldest son, James displeased with the father's favour of his younger brother, James Marquis of Ormonde; met with the rebellious army near Stirling and suffered defeat in the Battle of Sauchieburn; was either killed in the battle or in a skirmish some time later.
Biographical sources: "James III: A Political Study", by Norman Macdougall (Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers, 1982).

[1] "Scottish Historical Review", vol. XXX (Oct. 1951), Notes and Comments, 199-204: 'The Date of the Birth of James III', a dispute between W. Angus and A.I. Dunlop over the date. Angus suggests 1451, but Dunlop's arguments for 1452 are much more convincing; documents in Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 5:685, suggest that between 26 May 1452 and 29 Aug 1452 Queen Marie, pregnant with James, resided at St. Andrews. The news were communicated to James II at Edinburgh, who rewarded the messenger and the Bishop of St. Andrews (14 Jun 1452). See Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, 2 (nos. 566, 1444).
[2] Contemporary sources agree that James III died on the day of the Battle of Sauchieburn (11 Jun 1488), being probably killed in a skirmish off the battlefield (Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 2, nos. 204, 211, 217). 16th-century chroniclers provide further insight, claiming that the king was murdered in a mill at Bannokburne by a group of pursuers who discovered him some time after the battle.
[3] Auchinleck Chronicle 21, 57, 58 in "James II", op. cit.; Treasurer's Accounts, 1, preface, 37, and notes 1, 2; Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 7, preface, 34; MS. Reg. 17, D. 20, a° 1460.
[4] Having entered into agreement with King Edward IV of England, Alexander Duke of Albany was declared King of Scotland in London (c. 10 May 1482). At Fotheringhay Castle, the Duke of Albany, signing as Alexander R and styling himself King of Scotland, promised to do homage to Edward IV on obtaining the realm of Scotland for himself, and signed a treaty with the King of England (c. 3 Jun 1482). Upon entering Scotland with an English army in late July or early August 1482, Albany did not maintain his claim and agreed to reconciliation with his brother, King James III. The latter was petitioned by Parliament to appoint Albany 'lieutennant generale of the Realme' (11 Dec 1482), but never issued a commission.
Image: portrait by unknown artist (16-th century).
Last updated on: 14 Mar 2010 03:58:18