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House of Canmore 1058-1290

The Canmore Line

Malcolm III, though a powerful king, was faced with two threats, one from the English and the other from the Vikings who had settled on the coasts and islands of north and west Scotland. Hoping to achieve an understanding with the Vikings Malcolm married Ingibjorg, widow of Earl Thorfinn of the Orkneys. On her death he married Margaret whom he had met at the court of Edward the Confessor. St. Margaret was a devout Catholic and encouraged the growth of monasteries in Scotland. Her children, who subsequently became Kings of Scotland, carried on the systems of government introduced by William I in England with the help of the Church.

By 1124 Scotland had become a fully established kingdom under David I and flourished in peace, until the arrival of Edward I as King of England in 1274. He was ambitious to become overlord of Scotland, and when Alexander III, the descendant of David I, was killed falling from his horse, he left no heir.

Edward saw this as an opportunity to gain control of Scotland and nominated John Balliol as his candidate for the kingship against that of Robert Bruce. The Bruce family refused to accept Edward's choice and rejected Edward's demand that Scotland should confirm allegiance to the English throne. Aware of Edward's real intention, Balliol now made an alliance with France, known as the Auld Alliance, in 1295, which infuriated Edward. He set about conquering Scotland by force and sent an army which rapidly took possession of all the castles between Roxburgh and Elgin. The Stone of Scone, the ancient symbol of Scottish sovereignty, was seized and taken to Westminster (July 1296).

Scottish resentment at Edward's arrogant behaviour led to revolts and uprisings notably by William Wallace, a semi outlaw who became a national hero when he recovered Stirling Castle. His success was short-lived, however, for Edward captured Wallace and took him to London where he was executed (23 August, 1305).

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