You are here: Heritage | Great Scots | James III
James III / Kings and Queens
- Name : James III
- Born : 1452
- Died : 1488
- Category : Kings and Queens
- Finest Moment : A brief respite from troubles in 1485
A bit of a messy reign this one had, but not completely his fault. His father, James II, died when he was nine. This naturally guaranteed a power struggle between his guardians. For a while, a council ruled by his mother, Mary of Gueldres, and Bishop James Kennedy ruled, but they were also into playing games with the English. Civil war in the south allowed them to bargain back Berwick, thereby gaining the displeasure of Edward IV of England.
Then when he was 13 and both his mother and the bishop had died, James III was abducted by the brothers Boyd, one of whom, Sir Alexander Boyd, was Keeper of Edinburgh Castle and instructor in chivalric matters to the youth. James' reign finally began about 1469, after he married Margaret, daughter of Christian I of Denmark. One Boyd was executed, the other exiled.
The poor boy's troubles continued, with two adult brothers and their respective camp followers to hassle him. One died in his bath, in which he was being bled, at that time a supposed cure for various ailments. He was also in James' custody at that time, being accused of being involved with witches and warlocks. The other brother was Alexander, Duke of Albany, who was a right pain. He was also in custody for a while for the same reason as his brother, but escaped to France to continue his claims to the throne.
Trouble with England broke out again, over various border raids. Edward IV began to support Albany. James might have coped with all of this, but his nobles had other, less loyal plans. They were less than supportive for various reason, one major one being the company which James was keeping; artists, musicians, lower levels in other words than themselves.
Some of James' friends were lynched by the nobles, James was a prisoner in Edinburgh, and Albany moved into Edinburgh with his English friends. The wheeling and dealing began, ending with James being set free, and Albany regaining his lands, at least until James outplayed him and sent him back to exile. In England, Henry VII emerged the winner from their turmoils, and settled peaceably with James. Peace in Scotland however was bad news for the greedy graspers in the wild, wild, borders area, and trouble started all over again.
Eventually James III, with northern followers, met the Border lairds, led by his 15-year-old son James. At the battle of Sauchieburn, three miles south-west of Stirling, on 11 June 1488, the son emerged the victor. James III was found dead the next morning near Bannockburn, having escaped from the battle site. Dirty deeds had been done. The son, soon to be James IV, felt guilt all his life about the death of his father, wearing a metal chain round his body as penance.