Alexander III, King of the Scots

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Alaxandair III mac Alaxandair, King of Scots

Nicknames: "Alexander", "King of Scotland", "Alaxandair mac Alaxandair", "the Glorius", "The Glorious"
Birthplace: Roxburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland
Death: Died in Kinghorn, Fifeshire, Scotland
Place of Burial: Dunfermline, Fifeshire, Scotland
Immediate Family:

Son of Alexander II, King of Scots and Marie de Coucy
Husband of Margaret (Plantagenet) of England, Queen consort of Scots and Yolande de Dreux, Countess of Montfort, Queen consort of Scots
Father of Margaret of Scotland, Queen of Norway; Alexander, prince of Scotland; David Scotland, Prince Of Scotland and Prince Alexander MacAlexander
Half brother of Christina MacDougall; Marjory of Scotland and Devorguilla Darnell, of Scotland

Occupation: King of Scots (1249-1286), Kung av Skottland från 1249, King of Scotland, King of Scotland (1249 - 1249), Kung 1249-86, king house of Dunkeld
Managed by: Pam Wilson
Last Updated:

About Alaxandair III mac Alaxandair, King of Scots

Alexander III (Medieval Gaelic: Alaxandair mac Alaxandair; Modern Gaelic: Alasdair mac Alasdair) (4 September 1241 – 19 March 1286), King of Scots, was born at Roxburgh, the only son of Alexander II by his second wife Marie de Coucy. Alexander's father died on 6 July 1249 and he became king at the age of eight, inaugurated at Scone on 13 July 1249.

Buried Dunfermline Abbey

Consorts Margaret of England and Yolande de Dreux

Offspring (by Margaret of England)

  • Margaret, Princess of Scotland (1260/61–1283), who married Eirik II of Norway
  • Alexander, Prince of Scotland (21 January 1263 Jedburgh – 28 January 1283 Lindores Abbey); buried in Dunfermline Abbey
  • David of Scotland (20 March 1272 – June 1281 Stirling Castle); buried in Dunfermline Abbey

Royal House House of Dunkeld

The years of his minority featured an embittered struggle for the control of affairs between two rival parties, the one led by Walter Comyn, Earl of Menteith, the other by Alan Durward, Justiciar of Scotia. The former dominated the early years of Alexander's reign. At the marriage of Alexander to Margaret of England in 1251, Henry III seized the opportunity to demand from his son-in-law homage for the Scottish kingdom, but Alexander did not comply. In 1255 an interview between the English and Scottish kings at Kelso led to Menteith and his party losing to Durward's party. But though disgraced, they still retained great influence, and two years later, seizing the person of the king, they compelled their rivals to consent to the erection of a regency representative of both parties.

On attaining his majority at the age of 21 in 1262, Alexander declared his intention of resuming the projects on the Western Isles which the death of his father thirteen years before had cut short. He laid a formal claim before the Norwegian king Haakon. Haakon rejected the claim, and in the following year responded with a formidable invasion. Sailing around the west coast of Scotland he halted off the Isle of Arran, and negotiations commenced. Alexander artfully prolonged the talks until the autumn storms should begin. At length Haakon, weary of delay, attacked, only to encounter a terrific storm which greatly damaged his ships. The Battle of Largs (October 1263) proved indecisive, but even so, Haakon's position was hopeless. Baffled, he turned homewards, but died in Orkney on 15 December 1263. The Isles now lay at Alexander's feet, and in 1266 Haakon's successor concluded the Treaty of Perth by which he ceded the Isle of Man and the Western Isles to Scotland in return for a monetary payment. Norway retained only Orkney and Shetland in the area. In 1284, Alexander invested the title of Lord of the Isles in the head of the Macdonald family, Angus Macdonald, and over the next two centuries the Macdonald lords operated as if they were kings in their own right, frequently opposing the Scottish monarch.

Alexander had married Princess Margaret of England, a daughter of King Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence, on 26 December 1251. She died in 1274, after they had three children:

  1. Margaret (28 February 1260 – 9 April 1283), who married King Eirik II of Norway
  2. Alexander, Prince of Scotland (21 January 1264 Jedburgh – 28 January 1284 Lindores Abbey); buried in Dunfermline Abbey
  3. David (20 March 1272 – June 1281 Stirling Castle); buried in Dunfermline Abbey

According to the Lanercost Chronicle, Alexander did not spend his decade as a widower alone: "he used never to forbear on account of season nor storm, nor for perils of flood or rocky cliffs, but would visit none too creditably nuns or matrons, virgins or widows as the fancy seized him, sometimes in disguise."

Towards the end of Alexander's reign, the death of all three of his children within a few years made the question of the succession one of pressing importance. In 1284 he induced the Estates to recognize as his heir-presumptive his granddaughter Margaret, the "Maid of Norway". The need for a male heir led him to contract a second marriage to Yolande de Dreux on 1 November 1285.

But the sudden death of the king dashed all such hopes. Alexander died in a fall from his horse in the dark while riding to visit the queen at Kinghorn in Fife on 19 March 1286, having spent the evening at Edinburgh Castle overseeing a meeting with royal advisors. He was advised by them not to make the journey over to Fife because of weather conditions, but travelled anyway. Alexander became separated from his guides and it is assumed that in the dark his horse lost its footing. The 44-year old king was found dead on the shore the following morning with a broken neck. Some texts have said that he fell off a cliff. Although there is no cliff at the site where his body was found there is a very steep rocky embankment - which would have been fatal in the dark. After Alexander's death, his strong realm was plunged into a period of darkness that would eventually lead to war with England. Had Alexander, who was a strong monarch, lived, things might have worked out differently (Ashley 2002, p. 156). He was buried in Dunfermline Abbey.

As Alexander left no surviving children the heir to the throne was his unborn child by Queen Yolande. When Yolande's pregnancy ended in a still-birth in November of 1286, Alexander's granddaughter Margaret became the heir. Margaret died, still uncrowned, on her way to Scotland in 1290. The inauguration of John Balliol as king on 30 November 1292 ended the six years of interregnum when the Guardians of Scotland governed the land.


   * Scott, Robert McNair. Robert the Bruce: King of Scots, 1996
   * Ashley, Mike (2002), British Kings & Queens, Carroll & Graf, ISBN 0-7867-1104-3 .


Alexander III 'the Glorius', King of Scotland1

M, #102227, b. 4 September 1241, d. 19 March 1286

Alexander III 'the Glorius', King of Scotland was born on 4 September 1241 at Roxburgh, Scotland.

He was the son of Alexander II 'the Peaceful', King of Scotland and Mary de Coucy.

He married, firstly, Margaret of England, Princess of England, daughter of Henry III, King of England and Eleanor of Provence, on 26 December 1251 at York Minster, York, Yorkshire, England.

He married, secondly, Yolande de Dreux, daughter of Robert IV de Dreux, Comte de Dreux and Beatrix de Montfort, Comtesse de Montfort, on 1 November 1285 at Jedburgh Abbey, Roxburghshire, Scotland.

He was also reported to have been married on 14 October 1285.

He died on 19 March 1286 at age 44 at Kinghorne, Fife, Scotland, when his horse plunged over a cliff.

He was buried at Dunfermline Abbey, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.

Alexander III 'the Glorius', King of Scotland succeeded to the title of King Alexander III of Scotland on 8 July 1249.

He was crowned King of Scotland on 13 July 1249 at Scone Abbey, Scone, Perthshire, Scotland.

He has an extensive biographical entry in the Dictionary of National Dictionary.4


Children of Alexander III 'the Glorius', King of Scotland and Margaret of England, Princess of England

1.Margaret of Scotland, Princess of Scotland+ b. 28 Feb 1261, d. 9 Apr 1283

2.Alexander of Scotland, Prince of Scotland2 b. 21 Jan 1264, d. 17 Jan 1284

3.David of Scotland, Prince of Scotland2 b. 20 Mar 1273, d. Jun 1281


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Dunfermiline is about 15 miles northwest of Edinburgh.

In the dark of the night Alexander fell off his horse & plunged over the edge of a cliff & died.

Sources: many ~ see wife's decendants/ancestors.


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Alexander III, King of the Scots's Timeline

September 4, 1241
Roxburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland
December 26, 1251
Age 10
York, Yorkshire, England
February 28, 1261
Age 19
Windsor Castle, England
January 21, 1264
Age 22
Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland
March 20, 1273
Age 31
Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland
October 14, 1285
Age 44
March 19, 1286
Age 44
Kinghorn, Fifeshire, Scotland
March 29, 1286
Age 44
Dunfermline, Fifeshire, Scotland
Age 44
Age 44