The Stuarts: James II (1430-1460) biography - Scotland Magazine
Great Scots

The Stuarts: James II (1430-1460) biography

We survey the reigns of the Stuart kings and queens that saw Scotland rise above its clan divisions and move towards a future as rulers of the United Kingdom

Credit: National Galleries of Scotland/Antonia Reeve

James II was only six years old when he succeeded to the throne (reign: 1437-1460) after his father’s gory exit. Various Regents and co-Regents were appointed during his minority, which destabilised the country, undoing his father’s work. When he did finally gain control in 1449, he had to wrest power from three rival families: the Crichtons, the Livingstons and the Douglases. This was easier said than done. His unstable relationship with the Douglases came to a head when James II murdered William, 8th Earl of Douglas, in 1452. He was kindly exonerated by the Scots Parliament. Three years later he also confiscated the Douglas estates.

The money was put to good use. As Charles Kinder Bradbury and Henry Steuart Fothringham note in their comprehensive book of biographies, Stewart Heritage: “Like his English and French counterparts, [James II] set himself well above his nobles as an autocratic ruler, hailed by his subjects and by Parliament for the restoration of law and order in Scotland.”

Credit: Michael A Hill



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