Alexander II (Mediaeval Gaelic: Alaxandair mac Uilliam; Modern Gaelic:
Alasdair mac Uilleim; 24 August 1198 – 6 July 1249) was King of
Scots from 1214 until his death in 1249.
1 Early life
2 King of Scots
5 Fictional portrayals
8 Further reading
He was born at Haddington, East Lothian, the only son of the Scottish
William the Lion
William the Lion and Ermengarde of Beaumont. He spent time in
John of England
John of England knighted him at
Clerkenwell Priory in 1213)
before succeeding to the kingdom on the death of his father on 4
December 1214, being crowned at Scone on 6 December the same year.
King of Scots
In 1215, the year after his accession, the clans
Meic Uilleim and
MacHeths, inveterate enemies of the Scottish crown, broke into revolt;
but loyalist forces speedily quelled the insurrection. In the same
year Alexander joined the English barons in their struggle against
John of England, and led an army into the
Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England in
support of their cause. This action led to the sacking of
Berwick-upon-Tweed as John's forces ravaged the north.
The Scottish forces reached the south coast of England at the port of
Dover where in September 1216, Alexander paid homage to the pretender
Prince Louis of France for his lands in England, chosen by the barons
to replace King John. But John having died, the Pope and the English
aristocracy changed their allegiance to his nine-year-old son, Henry,
forcing the French and the Scots armies to return home.
Peace between Henry III, Louis of France, and Alexander followed on 12
September 1217 with the treaty of Kingston. Diplomacy further
strengthened the reconciliation by the marriage of Alexander to
Henry's sister Joan of England on 18 June or 25 June 1221.
Alexander the warrior and knight: the reverse side of Alexander II's
Great Seal, enhanced as a 19th-century steel engraving. Legend:
Alexander Deo rectore Rex Scottorum (Alexander, with God as his guide,
king of the Scots)
The next year marked the subjection of the hitherto semi-independent
Argyll (much smaller than the modern area by that name, it
only comprised Craignish, Ardscotnish, Glassary, Glenary, and Cowal;
Lorn was a separate province, while
Knapdale were part of
Suðreyar). Royal forces crushed a revolt in
Galloway in 1235 without
difficulty; nor did an invasion attempted soon afterwards by its
exiled leaders meet with success. Soon afterwards a claim for homage
from Henry of England drew forth from Alexander a counter-claim to the
northern English counties. The two kingdoms, however, settled this
dispute by a compromise in 1237. This was the
Treaty of York
Treaty of York which
defined the boundary between the two kingdoms as running between the
Solway Firth (in the west) and the mouth of the River Tweed (in the
Joan died in March 1238 in Essex. Alexander married his second wife,
Marie de Coucy, the following year on 15 May 1239. Together they had
one son, the future Alexander III, born in 1241.
A threat of invasion by Henry in 1243 for a time interrupted the
friendly relations between the two countries; but the prompt action of
Alexander in anticipating his attack, and the disinclination of the
English barons for war, compelled him to make peace next year at
Alexander now turned his attention to securing the Western Isles,
which were still part of the Norwegian domain of Suðreyjar. He
repeatedly attempted negotiations and purchase, but without
success. Alexander set out to conquer these islands but died on the
way in 1249. This dispute over the Western Isles, also known as the
Hebrides, was not resolved until 1266 when
Magnus V of Norway
Magnus V of Norway ceded
them to Scotland along with the Isle of Man.
The English chronicler
Matthew Paris in his
Chronica Majora described
Alexander as red-haired:
"[King John] taunted King Alexander, and because he was red-headed,
sent word to him,
saying, 'so shall we hunt the red fox-cub from his lairs."
Coat of arms of Alexander II as it appears on folio 146v of Royal MS
14 C VII (Historia Anglorum). The inverted shield represents the
king's death in 1249. The blazon for the arms was Or, a lion rampant
and an orle fleury gules.
Alexander attempted to persuade Ewen, the son of Duncan, Lord of
Argyll, to sever his allegiance to Haakon IV of Norway. When Ewen
rejected these attempts, Alexander sailed forth to compel him, but on
the way he suffered a fever at the Isle of
Kerrera in the Inner
Hebrides. He died there in 1249 and was buried at Melrose Abbey
1. Joan of England, (22 July 1210 – 4 March 1238), was the
eldest legitimate daughter and third child of
John of England
John of England and
Isabella of Angoulême. She and Alexander II married on 21 June 1221,
at York Minster. Alexander was 23. Joan was 11. They had no children.
Joan was Alexander's 3rd cousin, their closest common ancestor being
Henry I of England. Joan died in
Essex in 1238, and was buried at
Tarant Crawford Abbey in Dorset.
2. Marie de Coucy, who became mother of Alexander III of Scotland. She
was Alexander's 3rd cousin once removed by their common ancestor Hugh
I, Count of Vermandois.
Alexander II has been depicted in historical novels:
Sword of State (1999) by Nigel Tranter. The novel depicts the
friendship between Alexander II and Patrick II, Earl of Dunbar. "Their
friendship withstands treachery, danger and rivalry".
Child of the Phoenix by Barbara Erskine.
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Ancestors of Alexander II of Scotland
16. Malcolm III of Scotland
8. David I of Scotland
17. Saint Margaret of Scotland
4. Henry, Earl of Northumbria
18. Waltheof II, Earl of Northumbria
9. Maud, Countess of Huntingdon
19. Judith of Lens
2. William I of Scotland
20. William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey
10. William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey
21. Gundred, Countess of Surrey
5. Ada de Warenne
22. Hugh I, Count of Vermandois
11. Elizabeth of Vermandois
23. Adelaide, Countess of Vermandois
1. Alexander II of Scotland
24. Ralph VII, Viscount of Beaumont
12. Roscelin, Viscount of Beaumont
25. Adenor? de Laval
6. Richard I, Viscount de Beaumont
26. Henry I of England
13. Constance or Maud FitzRoy
3. Ermengarde de Beaumont
28. Richard I de l'Aigle
14. Richard II de l'Aigle
7. Lucie de l'Aigle
^ a b c d One or more of the preceding
sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public
domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Alexander II.".
Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
^ a b c "Alexander II,
King of Scots
King of Scots 1214 – 1249", Scotland's
^ Chisholm 1911.
^ Scotland A Concise History, Fourth Edition. New York: Thames &
Hudson. 2012. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-500-28987-7.
^ "Alexander III King of Scotland". Encyclopedia Brittanica. November
^ Scottish annals from English chroniclers A.D.500 to 1286, Alan Orr
Anderson, Paul Watkins, 1991.
^ Heath, Ian (2016). Armies of Feudal Europe 1066-1300. Lulu.com.
p. 250. ISBN 9781326256524. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
^ "Tranter First Edition Books, Publication Timeline"
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Alexander II of Scotland.
"Alexander II". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith,
Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
Chambers, Robert & Thomson, Thomas Napier (1857). Alexander II. A
biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen. 1. Glasgow: Blackie and
son. pp. 47–49.
Rotuli Litterarum Patencium
Alexander II of Scotland
House of Dunkeld
Born: 24 August 1198 Died: 6 July 1249
King of Scots
Pictish and Scottish monarchs
Monarchs of the Picts
Monarchs of the Scots
Kenneth I MacAlpin
Constantine I (II)
Constantine II (III)
Constantine III (IV)
Malcolm III Canmore
William I the Lion
Robert the Bruce
Robert the Bruce (I)
1 also monarch of England and Ireland.
ISNI: 0000 0000 5026 9754