*Anglophiles Against Drunk Riding

Today is a good day to take a moment to contemplate the consequences of drunk riding, because March 19 is the anniversary of the dark and stormy night King Alexander III of Scotland took a long fall off his horse and kicked off a succession crisis.

Alexander had three children with his first wife, Margaret of England, including two sons, but both died without heirs in the early 1280’s. Margaret also died, so Alexander remarried, taking Yolande de Dreux as his wife in 1285. On March 19, 1286, Alexander was partying and meeting with advisors at Edinburgh Castle when he decided he wanted to go see his new wife, who was in Fife that night. His friends advised him not to make the trip, which was trecherous at the best of times, but Alexander was determined, and embolded by wine, so off he went. His body was found on the shore at the bottom of a steep embankment the following day. He died of a broken neck.

Queen Yolande was pregnant at the time, but the child was stillborn. The crown instead went to Alexander’s granddaughter, Margaret, the Maid of Norway, who was only three years old at the time. Sadly, little Margaret died in 1290, on her way to Scotland to ascend her throne.

With no obvious heir, several claiments to the throne stepped forward. The Guardians of Scotland, perhaps unwisely, asked Edward I of England to arbitrate and decide who should sit on the Scottish throne. Edward said he’d only do so if the Scottish lords first recognized him as feudal overlord of Scotland, which they refused to do. Smaller concessions were made to Edward, and so he relented and arranged for a court to be set up to hear the claims of the fourteen candidates for the throne. Of these, only John Balliol, John Hastings, Floris V of Holland, and Robert de Brus, all legitimate-line descendents of King David I had true claims. On November 17, 1292, Edward declared in favor of John Balliol. Balliol ruled until 1296, when he was forced to abdicate during the Scottish Wars of Independence.

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