Alexander II of Scotland

1198-1249

Alexander was the son of William I (William the Lion). He came to the throne aged only 16, in 1214. In 1215 he invaded northern England, ostensibly in support of the Barons rebelling against King John, but more practically, in an attempt to reassert Scottish claims to the three northernmost English counties. He invaded once again in 1216, but his attempts failed, and he was forced to formally renounce his claims and do homage for his English estates to Henry III at Berwick.

In 1221 he forged an alliance with England by marrying King John's daughter, Joanna (Joan), and marrying his own sister to one of England's most powerful barons, Hubert de Burgh. When Joanna died without producing an heir, Alexander married Marie, daughter of a French baron.  By the Treaty of York (1237) Alexander was forced to renounce that claim in exchange for grant of personal estates in England.

In the meantime Alexander's attention was occupied exerting control over Argyll and putting down Celtic rebellions. He managed to extend royal control over the more remote areas of north and west Scotland; he put down a revolt in Caithness (the populace had roasted their bishop alive over his own kitchen spit), two revolts in Moray and another in Galloway. The overall effect of these actions was to further strengthen royal control at the expense of traditional Celtic power bases.

He had less success wresting the Western Isles from Norse control, and in 1249 he launched a new military action to sieze the Isles. He never made it that far, and died, leaving the throne to his son, Alexander III.

Time period(s): Medieval

Tags: Alexander II   William the Lion   William I   Alexander III   Caithness   King John   Treaty of York   Berwick   Moray   Western Isles  

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