James III

James III of Scotland was the son of James II and Mary of Gueldres. James was an unpopular and ineffective monarch owing to an unwillingness to administer justice fairly, a policy of pursuing alliance with the Kingdom of England, and a disastrous relationship with nearly all his extended family.

He succeeded his father, James II on August 3, 1460, and was crowned at Kelso Abbey, Roxburghshire a week later.

During his childhood, the government was led by three successive factions, led respectively by the king’s mother, Mary of Gueldres, James Kennedy, Bishop of St Andrews and Gilbert, Lord Kennedy, and Robert, Lord Boyd.

James married Margaret in July, 1469 at Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh. The marriage produced three sons. Conflict broke out between James and the Boyd family following the marriage. Robert and Thomas Boyd (with Princess Mary) were out of the country involved in diplomacy when their regime was overthrown. Mary’s marriage was later declared void in 1473. The family of Sir Alexander Boyd was executed by James in 1469.

By 1479 war with England existed on an intermittent level in 1480-1482. In 1482 Edward IV launched a full-scale invasion. James, in attempting to lead his subjects against the invasion, was arrested by a group of dissaffected nobles. The king was imprisoned in Edinburgh castle, and a new regime, led by ‘lieutenant-general’ Albany, became established during the autumn of 1482. Meanwhile the English army, unable to take Edinburgh castle, ran out of money and returned to England, having taken Berwick-upon-Tweed for the last time.

James was able to regain power, buying off members of Albany government. In January 1483 Albany fled to his estates at Dunbar.

During the 1480s James did not reform his behaviour. Matters came to a head in 1488 when he faced an army raised by the disaffected nobles, and many former councillors at the Battle of Sauchieburn, and was defeated and killed.

Tomb of King James III and Queen Margaret at the ruins of Cambuskenneth Abbey, Stirlingshire

Inscription on tomb of. James III King of Scots and Queen Margaret erected there by command of Queen Victoria (1865)