Ward's Book of Days.

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On this day in history in 1241, was born Alexander III of Scots.

Alexander the Glorious expanded and consolidated royal rule in Scotland, and finally defeated the Norwegians and removed their influence from the country.

Alexander was born on 4th September 1241, at Roxburgh, the only son of Alexander II, by his second wife Marie de Coucy. His father died when he was 7 years old, leaving him the kingdom. England's King Henry III immediately began plotting to obtain suzerainty over Scotland. He induced a group of Scottish nobles to have Alexander married to his daughter Margaret. The couple married when Alexander was 10 and Margaret 11. In 1257, when Henry demanded from his son-in-law homage for the Scottish kingdom, the young king was seized by an anti-English party of nobles, who controlled the government with the young boy as a puppet king.

When Alexander came of age in 1262, he declared his intention of gaining control of the Western Isles, then ruled by Norway. He laid a formal claim before the Norwegian king, Haakon IV, who not only rejected the claim but threatened to invade and take over the entire kingdom of Scotland. Alexander responded to this threat by asking for negotiations, which he skilfully prolonged until the autumn of 1263, the stormy season. When Haakon grew weary of delay, he launched his invasion, only to encounter the autumn storms off the Isle of Arran, which destroyed the greater part of his fleet. After an indecisive battle at Largs, in October 1263, Haakon's position was impossible and he turned homewards, but was repelled by a further bout of bad weather. He took sick in the Orkneys and died on 15th  December 1263. In 1266, Haakon's son, King Magnus V, ceded the Hebrides and the Isle of Man, to Scotland.

Alexander’s wife, Margaret of England, died in 1274, after bearing three children. The eldest child, Margaret married Erik II of Norway and they had one daughter, Margaret, Maid of Norway. All three of Alexander’s children died between 1282 and 1284 and consequently Margaret of Norway became heir to the throne. Alexander needed a male heir, and so he married again to Yolande de Dreux in 1285. In 1286, while hurrying to get home to his young bride, in the dead of night, he drove his horse over a cliff. The king was found dead on the shore the following morning. He was buried in Dunfermline Abbey. [Abbey Park Place, Dunfermline, KY12 7PB] Queen Yolande was pregnant at the time of his death, and the kingdom anxiously awaited an heir. Sadly Yolande suffered a miscarriage and the throne passed to Alexander's granddaughter Margaret.

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