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King Alexander III of Scotland (1249 - 1286)

Name: King Alexander III of Scotland
Father: Alexander II, King of Scotland
Mother: Mary de Coucy
House of: Canmore
Born: September 4, 1241 at Roxburgh
Ascended to the throne: July 8, 1249 aged 7 years
Crowned: July 13, 1249 at Scone Abbey, Perthshire
Married:(1) Margaret, daughter of Henry III of England, December 26, 1251
Married:(2) Yolande or Joletta, daughter of Robert IV, Count of Dreux, November 1, 1285
Children: Margaret (married Eric II King of Norway), Alexander, David
Died: March 19, 1286, killed when his horse plunged over a cliff between Burntisland and Kinghorn, aged 44 years, 6 months, and 13 days
Buried at: Dunfermline Abbey, Fife
Succeeded by: his granddaughter Margaret of Norway

Alexander III (Alaxandair mac Alaxandair) was the son of Alexander II and a boy when his father unexpectedly died. He was married to Margaret, daughter of Henry III of England, when he was just 10 years old.

His minority years were dominated by infighting between Comyn and Durward families. In 1259 Alexander assumed power and was determined to complete his father’s quest to conquer the Western Isles. Sending an army to attack the Norse in the Hebrides he provoked a Norwegian response in 1263 when King Haakon sailed his fleet to the west coast port of Largs. The battle was inconclusive but Haakon died on Orkney. Three years later at the Treaty of Perth Norway ceded control of the Hebrides to Scotland. Relations with Norway improved when Alexander’s daughter married Haakon’s grandson Eric.

Alexander maintained good and peaceful relations with his English in-laws. Scotland’s prosperity grew during his reign and with it a sense of unity of the Scottish nation. This was threatened by the death of Alexander’s wife and son. He took a new wife Yolande but died in an accident when he was thrown from his horse during a stormy night while journeying to see her across the Forth from Edinburgh to Kinghorn.

Succession passed to his infant grand daughter Margaret of Norway.

Timeline for King Alexander III of Scotland

Year Event
1249Alexander III becomes king and is crowned on the Stone of Destiny
1263Alexander III defeats Viking army at the Battle of Largs
1263King Haakon of Norway (which at that time included Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles) dies on Orkney
1266Norway cedes the Western Isles to Scotland in the Treaty of Perth.
1282Devorgilla, Countess of Galloway, mother of John Balliol, founds Balliol College, Oxford.
1286Alexander dies in riding accident leaving the throne to his four-year-old granddaughter, Margaret