The Stuarts: Robert III (c.1337-1406) biography - Scotland Magazine
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The Stuarts: Robert III (c.1337-1406) 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

At 53, John Stewart became King Robert III (reign: 1390-1406), changing his first name because of its association with the unpopular King John Balliol of Scotland. Two years prior to his coronation, John was involved in a riding accident that left him lame and possibly damaged his mental state too. He struggled with clan rivalries over his 16-year reign, during which he was rarely the real ruler of the country. One notable clash occurred at the 1396 Battle of North Inch in Perth, when Robert III suggested a 30-man team of champions from the so-called Chattan and Quhele clans fight it out to the death. The last Quhele man standing swam across the Tay to safety, leaving the Chattan fighters victorious and relative peace in the area.

Meanwhile the king’s nearest and dearest were causing problems. His brother, Robert, Earl of Fife, created Duke of Albany in 1398, governed throughout most of his reign, except for three years (1399–1402) when Robert III’s eldest son, David, Duke of Rothesay, took his place. A disgraced Rothesay was imprisoned by Albany in Falkland Palace in 1402 – he died there under suspicious circumstances. The king’s second surviving son, James, was sent to France to save him from Albany’s clutches. Unfortunately, he was captured by English pirates, possibly with help from Albany’s men – the king died shortly after receiving this devastating news.

Credit: Michael A Hill



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