James II

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This is an article on James II of Scotland. James II of England is not period.


James II ruled as King of Scotland from 1437 to 1460. He was the second son of James I and his wife Joan Beaufort, a great-granddaughter of the English king Edward III. His elder twin, Alexander, died in infancy and James inherited the throne when his father died.

Born in 1430, he was aged 7 when he succeeded, and his reign began with guardians ruling for him. His mother was removed from guardianship when she remarried (to James Stewart, lord of Lorn), leaving the main power balanced between Sir William Crichton and Sir Alexander Livingstone, the Governors of the castles of Edinburgh and of Stirling, who between them kept possession of the king's person.

The Earl of Douglas, said to have assassinated James I, was executed together with allies whom they suspected of planning to seize the government. Subsequent events meant that such executions became somewhat common -- Douglas' successor and his brother, for example, perished in 1440 -- and when in 1449 he attained adulthood, his guardians continued to dominate political power. The Douglas family were, by then, in the ascendant (Crichton had fallen out of favour, and Livingstone attracted the young king's wrath and his family were removed from power), and it was from them that James sought to free himself over the next years. James himself took a hand when, in 1452, frustrated by the 8th Earl's attempts (as the king saw it) to form an axis of power in competition to the throne, he summoned Douglas to Stirling Castle and, in a fit of temper, stabbed him to death. A petty war ended in 1455 with the defeat of the Douglas forces by James' army, backed by cannon, somewhat a speciality of James, and the king moved on to an active reign, travelling widely through his kingdom.

In 1460, outside Roxburgh Castle, a Scots castle held by the English, a cannon exploded, and shrapnel hit the King and killed him.

He was succeeded by his son, James III and left 5 other children. James had married, in 1449, Mary of Gueldres, daughter of the Duke of Burgundy, and by this marriage and those of his 6 sisters he was connected to more European courts than any of his predecessors or successors for some time. His sister Margaret married Louis XI of France; his sister Isabella married Francis, Duke of Brittany; Joan married the Scots Earl of Morton; Eleanor married Sigismund, Archduke of Austria; Mary married the Count of Grand Pre, and Annabella, the Count of Geneva.

A bright facial birthmark earned James the cognomen of "Fiery Face".

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Scottish kings

James II

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Preceded by
James I
Reigned
1437-1460
Succeeded by
James III

This page was originally based on the Wikipedia entry and other on-line sources.