Scotland’s Path to Independence: From Alexander III to Robert the Bruce

King Alexander the third of Scotland, who reigned from 1249 until his demise in 1286, tragically met his end in a horseback accident. This unfortunate incident left his unborn child with Queen Yolanda as the sole potential heir to the Scottish throne. However, Queen Yolanda’s stillborn successor dashed those hopes, leaving his three-year-old granddaughter, Margaret, as the rightful heir to the Scottish throne, known as Margaret, the Maid of Norway.

To navigate the uncertain future, six regions were designated as guardians of Scotland to oversee the matter of ascension. Yet, the persistent rebellion among Scottish nobility made King Eric the second of Norway hesitant to send his daughter, Margaret, to her new kingdom. King Edward of England became involved in the negotiations, ultimately resulting in the Treaty of Salisbury and an agreement for Margaret to wed Edward’s son. This led to another treaty confirming Scotland’s independence from England in 1290.

However, Margaret’s journey to Scotland took an unfortunate turn when she fell ill and passed away, plunging Scotland into a crisis with thirteen rival Scottish nobles vying for the throne. Fearing civil war, the guardians reached out to King Edward once more. Edward saw an opportunity to exert influence over Scotland and demanded recognition as Lord Paramount, which the guardians initially refused but later accepted under pressure.

Edward’s involvement led to the selection of John Balliol as the new Scottish king. However, Edward’s demands for Scottish troops and funds for an invasion of France strained relations. Scotland refused, sparking tensions and eventual military conflict. The Scots sought alliances with France and Norway, but Edward escalated his campaigns in Scotland.

In 1296, England invaded Scotland, leading to the sacking of Berwick. Battles and skirmishes ensued, with the English ultimately capturing Scottish strongholds. Scotland’s nobles began capitulating to Edward’s rule, and even the Stone of Destiny, a symbol of Scottish inaugurations, was taken to England.

William Wallace and Andrew de Moray emerged as leaders of the Scottish resistance. The Battle of Stirling Bridge marked a notable victory for the Scots, but subsequent battles favored the English, including the Battle of Falkirk.

After Wallace’s execution, Robert the Bruce rose to prominence, leading the Scots in their fight for independence. Despite internal conflicts, Bruce’s coronation in 1306 signaled a renewed Scottish resistance. The battles of Loudoun Hills, Pass of Brander, Roxborough, and Edinburgh castles shifted momentum back to the Scots.

In 1314, the Battle of Bannockburn proved decisive, and Scotland began reclaiming territories. The Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 affirmed Scotland’s sovereignty, and by 1328, the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton recognized Scotland as an independent nation under Robert the Bruce’s rule.

In 1327, Edward II of England was deposed and replaced by Edward III, who negotiated peace with the Scots. The Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton solidified Scotland’s independence, with the condition that Robert the Bruce’s son would marry Edward III’s sister. This tumultuous period in Scottish history saw the nation’s struggle for independence and its eventual recognition as a sovereign state.