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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

James II of Scotland

II. (1430-1460), king of Scotland, the only surviving son of James I. and his wife, Jane, daughter of John Beaufort, earl of Somerset, was born on the 16th of October 1430. Crowned king at Holyrood in March 1437, shortly after the murder of his father, he was at first under the guardianship of his mother, while Archibald, 5th earl of Douglas, was regent of the kingdom, and considerable power was possessed by Sir Alexander Livingstone and Sir William Crichton (d. 1 454). When about 1439 Queen Jane was married to Sir James Stewart, the knight of Lorne, Livingstone obtained the custody of the young king, whose minority was marked by fierce hostility between the Douglases and the Crichtons, with Livingstone first on one side and then on the other. About 1443 the royal cause was espoused by William, 8th earl of Douglas, who attacked Crichton in the king's name, and civil war lasted until about 1446. In July 1449 James was married to Mary (d. 1463), daughter of Arnold, duke of Gelderland, and undertook the government himself; and almost immediately Livingstone was arrested, but Douglas retained the royal favour for a few months more. In 1452, however, this powerful earl was invited to Stirling by the king, and, charged with treachery, was stabbed by James and then killed by the attendants. Civil war broke out at once between James and the Douglases, whose lands were ravaged; but after the Scots parliament had exonerated the king, James, the new earl of Douglas, made his submission. Early in 1455 this struggle was renewed. Marching against the rebels James gained several victories, after which Douglas was attainted and his lands forfeited. Fortified by this success and assured of the support of the parliament and of the great nobles, James, acting as an absolute king, could view without alarm the war which had broken out with England. After two expeditions across the borders, a truce was made in July 1457, and the king employed the period of peace in strengthening his authority in the Highlands. During the Wars of the Roses he showed his sympathy with the Lancastrian party after the defeat of Henry VI. at Northampton by attacking the English possessions to the south of Scotland. It was while conducting the siege of Roxburgh Castle that James was killed, through the bursting of a cannon, on the 3rd of August 1460. He left three sons, his successor, James III., Alexander Stewart, duke of Albany, and John Stewart, earl of Mar (d. 1479); and two daughters. James, who is sometimes called "Fiery Face," was a vigorous and popular prince, and, although not a scholar like his father, showed interest in education. His reign is a period of some importance in the legislative history of Scotland, as measures were passed with regard to the tenure of land, the reformation of the coinage, and the protection of the poor, while the organization for the administration of justice was greatly improved.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'James II of Scotland'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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