Monarchs of Scotland 843-1603

Royal Standard of ScotlandThe early Kings of the Scots are little more than shadowy tribal chiefs, one of which was the legendary Achaius (Achayus, or Eochy) in 788, who made an alliance with the Emperor Charlemagne and founded the Order of the Thistle.  However, by tradition the first King of the Scots was Kenneth MacAlpin, the 36th King of Dalriada – so our list has to begin with him.  But it took many centuries for Scotland to emerge in the shape we know it, a heady fusion of the mysterious Picts, together with Scots, Britons, Anglo-Saxons and Norse, together with a Norman influence in the lowlands.  Much of the detail about the kings up to the 11th century seems to be a matter of myth and conjecture, for there are few sources, though a remarkably high percentage appear to have spent most of their time fighting one another.

By tradition, the Kings of Scotland have been crowned in a ceremony on the legendary Stone of Destiny atop Moot Hill at Scone Palace in Perthshire.  The Stone was taken to England by Edward I and a coronation chair was made to house it.  Thereafter, it was used at the coronation of every monarch of England, and then Britain, for the next 700 years, but it was returned to Scotland in 1996.

In 1603, King James VI of Scotland also became King James I of England and Ireland.  So what follows below is a chronological list of Kings and Queens of Scotland up to 1603.  Click or tap on a name to reveal a bit about each monarch.

Kenneth MacAlpin (Cináed mac Ailpín)    843-c858     House of Alpin

Born Unknown.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  c858, at Forteviot, Perthshire.     Buried  Iona.
Father: King Alpin.     Mother:  A sister of Constantine, King of the Picts?
Famous for: The legendary first king of Alba (Scotia) – which would become Scotland – according to tradition joining the Gaelic Kingdom of Dalriada (the Scotti) with the Picts.  Kenneth MacAlpin is also supposed to have taken the Stone of Destiny (reputed to have been Jacob’s pillow and/or St Columba’s writing desk) from Iona to Scone.

Donald I      c858-862     House of Alpin

Born c812.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  862, near Scone.     Buried  Iona.
Father: King Alpin.     Mother:  Unknown
Famous for: No idea.

Constantine I      862-877     House of Alpin

Born Unknown.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  877, fighting the Vikings at Inverdorat, the Black Cove, Angus.    Buried  Iona.
Father: King Kenneth I.     Mother:  Unknown
Famous for: Don’t know.

Aedh     877-878     House of Alpin

Born Unknown.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  878, fighting his cousin Giric at Nrurim (Strathallan, Perthshire?)    Buried  Iona.
Father: Kenneth I.     Mother:  Unknown
Famous for: Nothing memorable.

Eochaid     878-889     House of Alpin

Born Unknown.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  889    Buried  Possibly Maiden Stone, Aberdeenshire.
Father: Run Macarthagail, King of Strathclyde.     Mother:  a daughter of Kenneth MacAlpin
Famous for: Possibly ruling jointly with Giric (see ‘Giric’)..

Giric     878-889     House of Alpin

Born Unknown.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  889 – assumed.    Buried  Unknown.
Father: Not clear.     Mother:  Who knows?
Famous for: Possibly ruling jointly with Eochaid – or he may have been King of the Picts.

Donald II     889-900     House of Alpin

Born Unknown.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  900, Dunnottar, Aberdeenshire.    Buried  Iona.
Father: Constantine I.     Mother:  Unknown
Famous for: Nothing you can put your finger on…

Constantine II     900-943     House of Alpin

Born c874.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  952, St Andrews, Fife.    Buried  St Andrews.
Father: Aedh.     Mother:  Unknown
Famous for:  Along with other Lords of the North, swore fealty to Athelstan, King of the English at Eamont Bridge (modern Cumbria) in 927.  Invaded England in alliance with the Strathclyde Welsh and the Norsemen of Dublin in 937 and was defeated at the Battle of Brunanburh .  Abdicated in 943 and became a monk.

Malcolm I     943-954     House of Alpin

Born Unknown.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  954, possibly at Fetteresso, near Stonehaven, Kincardineshire.    Buried  Iona.
Father: Donald II.     Mother:  Unknown
Famous for:  Nothing certain – he might have raided Northumbria and been killed by men of Moray.

Indulf     954-962     House of Alpin

Born Unknown.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  962.     Buried  Iona.
Father: Constantine II.     Mother:  Possibly a daughter of Earl Eadulf of Bernicia.
Famous for:  You tell me.  He might have died fighting the Vikings at the Battle of Invercullen, Aberdeenshire, or passed away peacefully at St Andrews.

Dubh (or Duff)     962-967     House of Alpin

Born Unknown.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  967, possibly murdered, in Forres, Kinross.     Buried  Unknown.
Father: Malcolm I.     Mother:  No idea.
Famous for:  Being Dubh (or Duff).

Cuilen (or Colin)     967-971     House of Alpin

Born Unknown.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  971, in Lothian.     Buried  Iona?
Father: Indulf.     Mother:  Not a clue.
Famous for:  Possibly murdered his predecessor, Dubh (or Duff) and was himself killed by Amdarch (or Riderch) of Strathclyde in revenge for raping Riderch’s (or Amdarch’s) daughter.

Kenneth II     971-995     House of Alpin

Born Unknown.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  995, at Fettercairn, Aberdeenshire.     Buried  Unknown.
Father: Malcolm I.     Mother:  Don’t know.
Famous for:  Nothing, really.  Was one of the northern rulers who submitted to King Edgar of England.  Is believed to have extended his borders south into Northumbria and to have been killed by Fenella, daughter of the Mormaer (Earl) of Angus, in revenge for killing her son.

Constantine III  (the Bald)   995-997     House of Alpin

Born Unknown.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  997, Rathinveramon – possibly site of a Roman fort near Perth.  Buried  Unknown.
Father: Cuilen.     Mother:  Unknown.
Famous for:  Zilch.

Kenneth III     997-1005     House of Alpin

Born Unknown.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  1005, Battle of Mozievaird, Perth and Kinross  Buried  Iona?
Father: Dubh.     Mother:  Unknown.
Famous for:  Lady Macbeth (Gruoch) was his granddaughter.

Malcolm II     1005-1034     House of Alpin

Born c954.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  1034, Glamis Castle, Angus.     Buried  Iona.
Father: Kenneth II.     Mother:  A princess of Leinster.
Famous for:  His daughter Donalda was MacBeth’s mother.  Defeated the Northumbrians at the Battle of Carham in 1018, subsequently agreeing a border similar to today’s with Cnut of England.  By this time, the Kingdom of Scotland may have included much of the Kingdom of Strathclyde.

Duncan I     1034-1040     House of Dunkeld

Born c1001.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  1040, Pitgaveny, near Elgin.     Buried  Elgin – reburied in Iona?
Father: Crinan, Abbot of Dunkeld.     Mother:  Bethoc, daughter of Malcolm II.
Famous for:  Appearing in Shakespeare’s play.  Thought to have been fatally wounded in battle at Pitgaveny by Macbeth.

Macbeth     1040-1057     House of Dunkeld

Born c1005.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  1057, Lumphanan, Aberdeenshire.     Buried  Iona.
Father: Finlay MacRory, Mormaer of Moray.     Mother:  Donalda, daughter of Malcolm II
Famous for:  Being a Shakespeare play.  Killed by Malcolm (not Macduff, then) at the Battle of Lumphanan.  Malcolm later became Malcolm III.

Lulach (‘the Fool’)     1057-1058     House of Dunkeld

Born c1030.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1058, Essie in Strathbogie, Aberdeenshire.     Buried  Iona.
Father: Gillacomgean, Mormaer of Moray.     Mother:  Gruoch, daughter of Beoedh, son of Kenneth III
Famous for:  Being Macbeth’s stepson.  Killed at Essie in Strathbogie by his cousin and successor Malcolm III.

Malcolm III     1058-1093     House of Canmore

Born c1031.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1093, near Alnwick, Northumberland.     Buried  Tynemouth, reburied in Dunfermline Abbey, Fife.
Father: Duncan I.     Mother:  Sybilla of Northumberland.
Famous for:  Starting the House of Canmore.  His second wife, Margaret of Wessex, was sister to Edgar, heir to the throne of England.  Margaret was later made a saint.  Malcolm is reputed to have given shelter to Anglo-Saxons fleeing the French-Norman conquerors of England.  He was ambushed whilst raiding Northumbria and was killed, along with his son, Edward.

Donald III Ban (‘the Fair’)    1093-1094     House of Canmore

Born c1033.     Crowned Unknown.    Died  1099, Rescobie, Forfarshire.     Buried  Dunkeld Abbey, Perthshire, reburied in Iona.
Father: Duncan I.     Mother:  Sybilla of Northumberland.
Famous for:  Overthrown by his nephew, Duncan, who was good mates with the King of England, William Rufus. Aka Donald Bane.

Duncan II    1094     House of Canmore

Born c1060.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1094, Monthechin, Kincardineshire.     Buried  Dunfermline Abbey or Iona.
Father: Malcolm III.     Mother:  Ingibiorg Finnsdottir – daughter of the (Norse) Earl of Orkney
Famous for:  Overthrown by his half-brother Edmund and uncle Donald Ban and died at the Battle of Monthechin (Mondynes).

Donald III Ban and Edmund    1094-1097     House of Canmore

Edmund Born After 1070.     Crowned May not have been.    Died  Unknown date, Montacute Abbey, Somerset.     Buried  Unknown.
Father: Malcolm III.     Mother:  Margaret of Wessex.
Famous for:  Some sources suggest Donald Ban and Edmund ruled jointly.  Whoever did was overthrown by Edmund’s brother Edgar, with support from England.  Edmund was sent to a monastery, Montacute.  Donald was not so lucky – he is said to have been blinded and imprisoned in Rescobie, where he died.

Edgar     1097-1107     House of Canmore

Born c1074.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1107, in Edinburgh Castle (or perhaps Dundee).     Buried  Dunfermline Abbey, Fife.
Father: Malcolm III.     Mother:  Margaret of Wessex.
Famous for:  Agreeing that the King of Norway could have the Western Isles and allowing Norman influence to spread in the lands of the Scots.

Alexander I     1107-1124     House of Canmore

Born c1077.     Crowned Scone?    Died  1124, in Stirling Castle.     Buried  Dunfermline Abbey, Fife.
Father: Malcolm III.     Mother:  Margaret of Wessex.
Famous for:  Being fierce.

David I     1124-1153     House of Canmore

Born c1080.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1153, in Carlisle.     Buried  Dunfermline Abbey, Fife.
Father: Malcolm III.     Mother:  Margaret of Wessex.
Famous for:  Introducing feudalism to Scotland and extending Anglo-Norman influence in the lowlands.  David himself held lands in England, obtained from his marriage to Matilda, daughter of the Earl of Huntingdon.  David founded monasteries – eg Melrose and Holyrood – and royal burghs to improve trade and administration, including Stirling, Perth, Dunfermline and Edinburgh.  He invaded England in support of the Empress Matilda’s claim to the English throne, and to gain territory for himself, and was highly successful until being defeated at the Battle of the Standard, near Northallerton in Yorkshire, in 1138.  Despite this, David gained control of much of Northumbria and King Stephen of England recognised him as king of an independent Scotland.

Malcolm IV     1153-1165     House of Canmore

Born 1141.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1165, Jedburgh Castle, Borders.     Buried  Dunfermline Abbey, Fife.
Father: Henry, Earl of Northumberland and Huntingdon (David I’s son).     Mother:  Ada de Warenne, daughter of the Earl of Surrey.
Famous for:  Being known as ‘the Maiden’, because he never married (or was completely chaste).  He was forced to give up Northumbrian lands to Henry II of England and the border was drawn between the Solway and the Tweed.

William (‘the Lion’)   1165-1214     House of Canmore

Born c1143.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1214, Stirling.     Buried  Arbroath Abbey, Angus.
Father: Henry, Earl of Northumberland and Huntingdon (David I’s son).     Mother:  Ada de Warenne, daughter of the Earl of Surrey.
Famous for:  Founding Arbroath Abbey and being the second longest reigning Scottish monarch after James VI.  In 1174, William invaded England in an attempt to re-take land in Northumbria, but was captured at Alnwick (apparently having charged the English knights on his own), humiliated and imprisoned in Falaise (Normandy).  He was released, conditional upon accepting Henry II of England as overlord.  The church in Scotland became subject to the church in England, English troops were stationed at key points and Scots were forced to pay for the occupation.  He bought back Scotland’s sovereignty for 10,000 marks from Henry’s successor, Richard I, who needed the cash to go on crusade.

Alexander II     1214-1249     House of Canmore

Born 1198, Haddington, East Lothian.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1249, Isle of Kerrara, Inner Hebrides (near Oban).     Buried  Melrose Abbey, Borders.
Father: Henry, Earl of Northumberland and Huntingdon (David I’s son).     Mother:  Ada de Warenne, daughter of the Earl of Surrey.
Famous for:  Supporting the barons who forced John of England to put his seal to Magna Carta, and then allying himself with the French king in the latter’s invasion of England.  His Scottish army marched as far as Dover.  Alexander subsequently married Joan, John’s daughter and sister of the new King of England, Henry III, at York Minster.  But relations between the Scottish and English thrones were subject to ups and downs and Alexander was also still trying to secure his own kingdom.

Alexander III     1249-1286     House of Canmore

Born 1241, Roxburgh Castle.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1286, Kinghorn Ness, Fife.     Buried  Dunfermline Abbey, Fife.
Father: Alexander II.     Mother:  Mary de Coucy.
Famous for:  Dying when his horse threw him over a cliff, sparking a succession crisis.  Alexander had to contend with political infighting but was also keen to secure control over the Western Isles from Norway, which was eventually achieved after the Battle of Largs in 1263.  Relations with England were not too bad; Alexander married Margaret, daughter of Henry III of England, but both of their sons, and Margaret, predeceased him.  He was allegedly on his way to see his second wife, Yolande, for her birthday when he had his riding accident.

Margaret, the Maid of Norway     1286-1290     House of Canmore

Born 1283, Tonsberg, Norway.     Crowned Wasn’t.    Died  1290, near or in the Orkneys, aged 7.     Buried  Bergen Cathedral, Norway.
Father: Eric II, King of Norway.     Mother:  Margaret, daughter of Alexander III and Margaret of England.
Famous for:  Dying.  Little Margaret was next in line to the Scottish throne after her grandfather was killed.  She died, possibly of the effects of sea-sickness, on her way to take up her throne.  If she had lived, the chaos of the Scottish Wars of Independence might not have happened.  Edward I of England also had a cunning plan to marry his son, the future Edward II, to ‘the Maid’ – which would have joined the Scottish and English crowns 300 years sooner than it eventually occurred.

1st Interregnum 1290-92

After the death of the ‘Maid of Norway, a council presided over by Edward I of England met at Norham Castle (in England) to determine who the next king of Scotland would be – processknown as ‘the Great Cause.  There were 13 candidates, the two main ones being John Balliol and Robert Bruce (grandfather of the famous ‘Robert the Bruce’). Balliol was chosen and announced at Berwick Council and shortly after Balliol paid homage to Edward in the hall at Norham.

John Balliol     1292-1296     House of Balliol

Born c1240, Barnard Castle, Co Durham.     Crowned Scone.    Died  c1314, Picardy.     Buried  Church of St Waast, Normandy.
Father: John de Balliol.     Mother:  Devorguilla of Galloway.
Famous for:  Being the reluctant puppet of the English King, Edward I.  Balliol was constantly under pressure from Edward to do his bidding.  A Scottish alliance with France sparked an English invasion, Scottish defeat at the Battle of Dunbar and John’s humiliating ‘abdication’ – the arms of Scotland were torn from his surcoat, leading to the nickname, ‘Toom Tabard’ (empty coat).  John was imprisoned in the Tower of London, but later allowed to travel to family estates in Picardy where he subsequently died.

2nd Interregnum 1296-1306

For the next ten years, Scotland was essentially governed by Edward of England.  There was resistance, initially led by one of Scotland’s national heroes, William Wallace.  But Wallace was betrayed, captured in 1305, and executed.

Robert I (the Bruce)     1306-1329     House of Bruce

Born 1274, probably at Turnberry Castle, Ayrshire.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1329, Manor of Cardross, near Dumbarton.     Buried  Dunfermline Abbey (body) and Melrose Abbey (heart).
Father:     Robert de Brus, 6th Lord of Annandale.     Mother:  Marjory, Countess of Carrick.
Famous for:  Securing Scotland’s independence from England.  The Wars of Scottish Independence were complicated by rivalries and infighting amongst the Scottish nobles.  The de Brus family owned lands in both Scotland and England and had a rival claim to the Scottish throne to that of John Balliol.  Therefore they were no supporters of Balliol, but did actually support the English King Edward at various times.  Robert supported Wallace’s rising against the English in 1297, but later once more swore fealty to Edward.  In 1306, Bruce murdered another rival, John ‘Red’ Comyn, and claimed the Scottish throne for himself.  After several vicissitudes, Bruce went on to conduct a highly successful guerrilla war against both his rivals and the English, culminating in the Battle of Bannockburn of 1314, when he defeated a much larger English army which had come to relieve the siege of Stirling Castle.  Bruce raided northern England and, in 1320, the Scots issued the ‘Declaration of Arbroath’, a letter to Pope John XXII declaring the independence of the Scottish nation, which was eventually recognised by the Pope and, in 1228, by King Edward III of England.

David II     1329-1371     House of Bruce

Born 1324, at Dunfermline Palace, Fife.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1371, Edinburgh Castle.     Buried  Holyrood Abbey.
:     Robert the Bruce.     Mother:  Elizabeth de Burgh, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Ulster.
Famous for:  Getting captured by the English.  David was 5 years old when he became king.  Continuing wars with the English meant that his early years were spent in the safety of France, Scotland’s ally.  He returned to Scotland in 1341 and invaded England in 1346, when he was taken prisoner the Battle of Neville’s Cross.  He remained a captive for 11 years and was released in return for the promise of ransom of 100,000 marks, which was never paid.  Despite two marriages and at least one mistress, David died childless and the throne passed to the Stuarts (or Stewarts).

Robert II     1371-1390     House of Stuart

Born 1316, Paisley Abbey, Renfrewshire.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1390, Dundonald Castle, Ayrshire.     Buried  Scone Abbey.
Father:     Walter Stewart.     Mother:  Marjorie, daughter of Robert the Bruce.
Famous for:  Having at least 21 children, most of them legitimate, and being the first Stuart (or Stewart) monarch.

Robert III     1390-1406     House of Stuart

Born 1337, Scone Palace, Perth.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1406, Rothsay Castle, Isle of Bute.     Buried  Paisley Abbey, Renfrewshire.
Father:     Robert II.     Mother:  Elizabeth Mure
Famous for:  Taking the name Robert, because his birth name, John, was considered unlucky.

James I     1406-1437     House of Stuart

Born 1394 at Dunfermline Palace, Fife.     Crowned Scone.    Died  1437, murdered in Blackfriars, Perth.     Buried  Perth Priory.
Father:     Robert II.     Mother:  Elizabeth Mure
Famous for:  Spending the first 18 or so years of his reign a prisoner of the English.  James married Joan Beaufort, daughter of the Earl of Somerset, in what would become Southwark Cathedral and they had their wedding feast in Winchester Palace, just down the road.  On James’s return to Scotland in 1424, he set out to be a good king but was assassinated by rivals.

James II     1437-1460     House of Stuart

Born 1430 at Holyrood.     Crowned Holyrood Abbey.    Died  1460 at the siege of Roxburgh, Borders.     Buried  Holyrood Abbey.
Father:     James I.     Mother:  Joan Beaufort, daughter of the Earl of Somerset.
Famous for:  The Black Dinner and getting blown up.  James was 6 when his dad was murdered and he grew up in an atmosphere of rival factions.  The Black Dinner took place in 1440: fearing a coup by the Douglas clan, the young Earl of Douglas and his even younger brother were invited to dine in James’s presence at Edinburgh Castle, where they were royally entertained before being dragged outside and beheaded.  12 years later, James himself stabbed the 8th Earl of Douglas 26 times during a meeting at Stirling Castle, and threw his body out of a window.  James was generally popular – presumably except for among the Douglas clan and their supporters.  He was killed when one of his cannons (he was fond of artillery) exploded at the siege of Roxburgh Castle.

James III     1460-1488     House of Stuart

Born 1451 or 1452 at either Stirling or St Andrews Castle.     Crowned Kelso Abbey, Borders.    Died  1488, near Bannockburn.     Buried  Cambuskenneth Abbey, Stirling.
Father:     James II.     Mother:  Mary of Gueldes.
Famous for:  Upsetting his nobles.  James married Margaret of Denmark, which eventually made the Orkneys and Shetland Islands Scottish, but seems to have been a bit a wheeler-dealer who had his favourites and who upset most of his nobles with his schemes and, allegedly, bisexual excesses.  A group of nobles rebelled, persuading the King’s eldest son to go against his father.  Battle was joined at Sauchieburn, not far from Bannockburn.  James was either killed in the fighting,  or was tricked and assassinated afterwards; no one knows.

James IV     1488-1513     House of Stuart

Born 1473, Stirling Castle (probably).     Crowned Scone.    Died  1513, Battle of Flodden, Northumberland.     Buried  Not sure.  Possibly Sheen Abbey, Surrey; the head possibly at St Michael’s, Wood Street, London (now demolished); or possibly somewhere in Scotland.
Father:     James III.     Mother:  Margaret of Denmark.
Famous for:  Deciding to invade England and dying along with many of Scotland’s nobles.  James was a renaissance man – learned, fluent in many languages and a keen supporter of education and learning.  Guilty at the part he played in his father’s death, he is said to have worn an iron belt, chain or cilice in penance.  His reign saw the strengthening of the Royal Scots Navy and the establishment of royal authority over the Western Isles.  James signed a ‘Treaty of Perpetual Peace’ with England in 1502 and married Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England – by all accounts a good match.  But Scotland was also allied to France and when war broke out between England and France, James invaded England and the Scots were massacred at Flodden Field.  His body was allegedly taken to London for burial, but this may not have gone exactly according to plan.  There are also rumours that the body taken to London was not James’s at all – or even that he survived the battle.  James IV was the last British monarch to die in battle.

James V     1513-1542     House of Stuart

Born 1512, Linlithgow Palace.     Crowned Stirling Castle.    Died  1542, Falkland Palace, Fife.     Buried  Holyrood Abbey.
Father:     James IV.     Mother:  Margaret Tudor.
Famous for:  Travelling his kingdom disguised as a common man and being the father of Mary, Queen of Scots.  James inherited the throne when he was less than 2 years old and endured the rule of his step-father as regent (including being held prisoner on occasion) until 1528, when he began to exercise power in his own right.  War broke out again with England and a disorganised Scottish army was routed by the English at Solway Moss in 1542.  News of the defeat is said to have devastated the king, who died shortly after hearing the news (probably of a fever), just six days after the birth of his daughter, Mary.

Mary, Queen of Scots     1542-1567     House of Stuart

Born 1542, Linlithgow Palace.     Crowned Stirling Castle.    Died  1587, executed at Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire.     Buried  Peterborough Cathedral, reburied in Westminster Abbey.
Father:     James V.     Mother:  Mary of Guise.
Famous for:  Being beheaded.  Mary, Queen of Scots’ story is one of the most fascinating, and saddest, of all Scottish monarchs.  Just a baby when she became Queen, Mary spent most of her childhood in France and was, briefly, Queen of France having married King Francis II.  She returned to Scotland after his death, to find herself out of step with many of her, by now Protestant, subjects – some of which were inspired by the wildly anti-Catholic cleric, John Knox.  General unrest, the murder of her (albeit unsavoury) second husband, Henry Lord Darnley and her subsequent marriage to the chief murder suspect, James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, prompted Mary’s seizure and imprisonment by enraged nobles.  She was forced to abdicate in favour of her son, who became James VI.  Mary made a dramatic escape and sought sanctuary and help in England from her cousin, Queen Elizabeth.  However, she was generally perceived to be a threat to Elizabeth and indeed became the focus for every pro-Catholic plot.  After spending more than 18 years of her life in various English castles, she was finally implicated in the Babington Plot of 1586 (to assassinate Elizabeth and replace her with Mary) and Elizabeth reluctantly signed the death warrant.  Mary was beheaded at Fotheringay on 6th February 1587, her pet dog hiding in her skirts.  The execution was botched and, when the executioner finally held up the head by the hair, it became obvious the dead queen had been wearing a wig.

James VI     1567-1603     House of Stuart

Born 1566, Edinburgh Castle.     Crowned Church of the Holy Rude, Stirling.    Died  1625, Theobalds Park, Hertfordshire.     Buried  Westminster Abbey.
Father:     Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley.     Mother:  Mary Queen of Scots.
Famous for:  Being the first king of both Scotland and England.  James was a 1-year old when his mother was forced to abdicate in his favour and for the first 15 years of his reign Scotland was governed by a series of rival regents.  It was an unhappy, insecure, childhood and you get the impression that James emerged emotionally, and intellectually, scarred – though he was undoubtedly well educated.  However, once he was able to reign in his own right from 1583 he apparently established an effective government, though by all accounts was very fond of spending money.  Somewhere along the way, James came to accept the idea of the divine right of kings, which would prove to be unfortunate in the future.  In 1586 a peace treaty, the Treaty of Berwick, was signed with England.  In 1587, James’s Catholic mother, Mary, was executed – allegedly prompting him to comment that it was a “preposterous and strange procedure”.  By this time, perhaps he had his eye on the English throne.  He married Anne of Denmark in 1589 and, on the death of Elizabeth I of England, became king of England and Ireland, as well as Scotland.  Despite promising to return to Scotland every three years, he only visited his country of birth once after his accession to the English throne.

Monarchs of England 871-1603

Monarchs of Britain 1603-present

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