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Later house of Canmore (1153 - 1290)
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Later house of Canmore (1153 - 1290)

BORN IN 1142, a year before Henry II became King of England, Malcolm was forced in 1157 to renounce his rights to Northumbria. His nickname refers to his vow of chastity.

WILLIAM (THE LION) (1165-1214)
Born in 1143, he succeeded his brother, invaded England in 1174, and was defeated and captured at Alnwick. Imprisoned in Normandy, William was freed in return for accepting Henry II as Scotland's overlord. Ten thousand merks for Richard I's Third Crusade bought back Scotland's sovereignty in 1189. A further 15,000 merks was supposed to secure King John's sons as husbands for William's two daughters. A bad bargain, it was broken by the English king.

The lowland districts were esteemed for their 'green meadows', good for farming,
but according to the 14th-century chronicler John Fordun, the highlands produced only oats and barley, and were ' Very hideous, interspersed with moors and marshy fields, muddy and dirty... Nevertheless, Scotland abounded in sheep and horses and was in its wealth of fish, in sea, river and lake'.

Later house of Canmore (1153 - 1290)

'Oure gold was changed into lede!
Part of a Scots lament on the death of Alexander III

ALEXANDER II (1214-1249)
Son of William the Lion, Alexander was born in 1198. On his accession, King John declared he would 'hunt the red fox cub from his den'. Instead, Alexander backed the barons who forced John to sign Magna Carta in 1215. On marrying Joan, John's daughter, he demanded repayment of William the Lion's dowry and Scottish rights to Northumbria. Diplomacy fixed the border with England at the Tweed-Solway line.

ALEXANDER III (1249-1286)
Aged eight on inheriting the throne, Alexander was ten when he married Henry Ill's 11-year-old daughter Margaret in 1251. Cleverly avoiding the issue of English feudal superiority, he established good relations with King Edward I.

In a golden age of prosperity, towns like Berwick grew rich on foreign trade. Wool, fur and fish were exported. Churches and castles were built. The Western Isles were won back from Norway at the Battle of Largs in 1263. Then in 1275 tragedy struck as the king lost first his wife and soon afterwards their three children. He married again in 1285 but the following year on a stormy night his horse, stumbled, tossing him over a cliff to his death. Heir to the Scottish throne was Alexander's three-year-old granddaughter, Margaret, 'Maid of Norway'.

Margaret's father was Erik II of Norway. Her mother, Alexander Ill's daughter Margaret, had died giving birth. When the child became Queen of Scotland in 1286, England's Edward I was quick to arrange a marriage between her and his son. But Margaret died - from seasickness, in Orkney - on the journey from Norway and with 'the Maid' died the House of Canmore.

David I and his grandson Malcolm IV, from an illuminated initial letter on Kelso Abbey's charter (granted in 1159). David made monastic reforms and founded new church sees. His grandson inherited the Crown at the age of 11.

Later house of Canmore (1153 - 1290)

This portrait by William Hole, painted about 1900, shows a romanticized version of Margaret, who was just six years old when she died. The portrait is part of a mural in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Later house of Canmore (1153 - 1290)

Alexander Ill's reign was seen by later Scots as a golden age. In 1278 he visited Edward I’s court, but did homage only for his lands in England.

Later house of Canmore (1153 - 1290)

Founded in 1150 by the saintly King David I, this abbey, like others, fell victim to Scotland's border wars with England.

Later house of Canmore (1153 - 1290)

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