Alexander III of Scotland

1241-1286

The son of Alexander II, Alexander III took the throne at the age of 8 on his father's death on 1249. He was already the nephew of the English king, Henry III, (Henry's sister Joanna had married Alexander's father, but they had no children). He further strengthened ties with England by marrying Henry's daughter, Margaret, in 1251.

These ties with England were important, as Alexander was able to concentrate on affairs within Scotland. As a result, he was able to finally wrest the Western Isles from Norway, completing the efforts begun by his father, Alexander II. He sent envoys to Kig Haco (Hako) of Norway to negotiate transfer of the Isles, but Haco imprisoned the Scots until Henry III of England pressured him to release them. In 1263 the Norse sailed a fleet into the Firth of Clyde, but were repulsed in a the decisive Battle of Largs. Haco died as a result of battle wounds, and his son Eric agreed to cede the Western Isles and the Isle of Man to Scotland in exchange for a lump sum payment of 4000 marks and an annual payment. The agreement was was formalized by the Treaty of Perth in 1266, and sealed by the marriage of Alexander's daughter Margaret to Eric.

Unfortunately, all of Alexander's children with Margaret died young. After Margaret died, Alexander married Yolande (Joleta), daughter of the French Count of Dreux, but the couple had no children. Without a direct heir, Alexander and his advisors settled the Scottish throne on his infant his granddaughter, Margaret, the Maid of Norway.

Alexander died in 1286 in an unfortunate fall from his horse at Kinghorn, Fife. Not only did he fall, he was thrown over a cliff, and, it could be said, his realm followed, for the 'Golden Age' of relative peace and prosperity that characterised the reigns of Alexander II and III was about to be followed by an era of turmoil and uncertainty.

Time period(s): Medieval

Tags: Alexander III   Henry III   Alexander II   Maid of Norway   Treaty of Perth   Battle of Largs   Fife  


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