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Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen Of Scots

Dynasty The Stuarts 1560-1807

Dynasty: The Stuarts: 1560-1807

King James VI of Scotland

King James VI of Scotland and I of... England


The Stuarts in Scotland

David II of Scotland had no children. His nephew, Robert the Steward, succeeded him in 1371. Robert was the son of David's half-sister, Marjorie. Robert's ancestors were named Fitzalan, but they were known as Stewarts because they held the office of High Steward of Scotland. Stewart, later also Stuart, was the old Scots spelling of Steward. The Stuarts ruled Scotland for the next 300 years, and then became kings of England as well. The Stuart rule was a time of great unrest, partly because so many Stuarts inherited the throne in infancy.

Robert II was 55 when he became king. His eldest son was John, Earl of Carrick. John succeeded his father in 1390 and took the name of Robert III. Neither Robert II nor Robert III was an effective king, and many Scottish nobles questioned their right to the throne. A long struggle for power took place between the Stuarts and their subjects.

Robert III was king in name only. His younger brother, Robert, Duke of Albany, had been made guardian of the kingdom when Robert II became too old to rule, and Albany continued as guardian after Robert III came to the throne. Later, the power and title of guardian were transferred to Robert III's son, David, Duke of Rothesay. In 1402, Albany captured Rothesay, who died mysteriously soon afterward. Meanwhile, an intermittent war was raging between Scotland and England. Robert III sent his surviving son, James, to France to protect him from Albany. But James was captured by the English and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

James, still a prisoner, became king in 1406, at the age of 12. Albany was appointed governor of the realm. Albany died in 1420, and his son, Murdoch, Duke of Albany, succeeded him as governor. During the government of the two Albanys, the Scottish nobles seized royal lands and revenues. In 1424, James I was freed from his long imprisonment after payment of a large ransom. He proved an energetic king. He curbed the powerful nobles, reformed the Scottish legal system, and imposed taxes to restore the royal revenues. He also made some use of parliaments. James arranged a marriage between his eldest daughter, Margaret, and the son of the French king, in order to strengthen the traditional Scottish alliance with France.

James was an athletic man, as well as a poet and musician. While in prison, he wrote a poem, The Kingis Quair (The King's Book), in honor of the Englishwoman whom he had married. She was Lady Jane Beaufort, a granddaughter of Edward III of England. Yet James made many enemies, one of whom murdered him in 1437. James left a 6-year-old son, James II.

James II was left in the custody of his mother, Queen Jane. Jane appointed Archibald, fifth Earl of Douglas, as lieutenant governor of Scotland. But Archibald's enemies soon killed him. When James grew to manhood, the Douglases and the Stuarts resumed an ancient feud. James had William, the sixth Earl of Douglas, executed. The king himself stabbed to death another William, the eighth earl, in 1452. In 1460, James was killed when a cannon exploded while he was besieging Roxburgh Castle, then held by the English. He, too, left a child to succeed him.

James III was only 9 years old when he became king. In 1465, he came under the control of the Boyd family, who managed state affairs and arranged a useful marriage between James and Margaret of Denmark. The marriage made Orkney and Shetland part of Scotland. But the Boyds soon lost control. James quarreled with his brothers and, despite making important political and administrative reforms, he became personally unpopular with the nobility. In 1488, James was defeated at the Battle of Stirling by a group of nobles. He was murdered soon afterward.

James IV, the son of James III, was 15 when he came to the throne. He was a strong king. He held parliaments, founded a navy, and enforced justice against his powerful barons. In 1502, James made peace with England and, soon afterward, married Margaret Tudor, the eldest daughter of Henry VII of England. Through this marriage, the Stuarts later claimed the throne of England.
But in 1512, James supported Scotland's old ally, France, in a war with England. The English defeated and killed James at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.

James's son, James V, was only 17 months old when he became king. During his boyhood, the Scottish lords continually quarreled for power. James began to rule for himself at the age of 16. James was extremely pro-French and in time was forced into a war with his uncle, Henry VIII of England. The English decisively defeated the Scots in 1542. James died soon afterward, leaving the throne to his week-old baby daughter, Mary.

Mary, Queen of Scots, was brought up in France as a Roman Catholic. While she was in France, Scotland became a Protestant country. In 1558, Mary married the dauphin (crown prince) of France. Mary's husband became king of France as Francis II in 1559.

Francis died suddenly in 1560. Mary returned to Scotland, a Roman Catholic queen of a fiercely Protestant country. In 1565, she married her cousin, Henry Stewart, Earl of Darnley. In 1567, Darnley was mysteriously murdered. Soon after, Mary married the Earl of Bothwell, whom many people believed was Darnley's murderer. As a result of this marriage and of Mary's religion, her subjects rebelled against her. They defeated her in battle at Carberry Hill, Lothian Region, and forced her to abdicate. Mary fled to England to seek the protection of Elizabeth I. Elizabeth kept her a prisoner for 18 years before having her executed.

As the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor, Mary, Queen of Scots, was heir to the unmarried Elizabeth I of England. After Mary's execution, the succession passed legitimately to her son by Lord Darnley, James VI. Thus, with the death of Elizabeth in 1603, the English and Scottish crowns were united. James VI of Scotland became James I, the first monarch to rule England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales simultaneously.

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