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John Balliol 1292-1296

Key Facts about John Balliol

Following the death of King Alexander III, the succession was now open to many claimants, the strongest of whom were John Balliol and Robert Bruce.

King Edward supported John Balliol, who he believed was the weaker and more compliant of the two Scottish claimants. At a meeting of 104 auditors, with Edward as judge, the decision went in favour of Balliol, who was declared the rightful King in November 1292.

The English King's plans for a peaceful relationship with his northern neighbour now took a different turn. In exchange for his support, Edward demanded that he should have feudal superiority over Scotland, including homage from Balliol. He also demanded judicial authority over the Scottish King in any disputes brought against him by his own subjects, and defrayment of costs for the defence of England as well as active support in the war against France.

Even Balliol could not stomach these outrageous demands. Showing a hitherto unknown courage, he declared in front of the English King that he was the King of Scotland and should answer only to his own people. He refused to supply military service to Edward. Over-estimating his strength, he then concluded a treaty with France prior to planning an invasion of England.

Edward was ready. He went north to receive homage from a great number of Scottish nobles, as their feudal lord, among them none other than Robert Bruce, who owned many estates in England.

Balliol immediately punished this treachery by seizing Bruce's lands in Scotland and giving them to his own brother-in-law, John Comyn. However, within a few months, the Scottish King was to disappear from the scene. His army was defeated by Edward at Dunbar in April 1296. Soon after at Brechin, on 10 July, he surrendered his Scottish throne to the English King, who took the Stone of Scone, which was the coronation stone of the Scottish kings.

At a parliament, which he summoned at Berwick, the English King received homage and the oath of fealty from over 2,000 Scots. He seemed secure in Scotland.

Balliol was imprisoned in the Tower of London, but later released provided he went to France, where he eventually died.

Key Events during the Reign of John Balliol

1292 - The first interregnum in Scotland comes to an end. John Balliol succeeds to the Scottish throne, selected out of 13 competitors by Edward I.

1293 - An Anglo-Gascon fleet defeats a larger Norman-French fleet off the coast of Brittany, and then sacks La Rochelle.

1294 - Roger Bacon, the founder of experimental science, dies. War with France begins. Rebellion breaks out again in Wales. Robert Winchelsey becomes Archbishop of Canterbury.

1295 - Treaty between Scotland and France begins the Auld Alliance. The Earl of Warwick's troops defeat those of the principal Welsh leader, Madog ap Llewellyn, breaking the back of the Welsh rebellion.

1296 - Edward I invades Scotland and deposes Balliol. As overlord of Scotland, he appoints officials to rule on his behalf. Edward seizes the Stone of Scone - on which the Scottish Kings sit at their coronation - and takes it to London, where it remains under the Coronation chair in Westminster Abbey until it is returned to Scotland in 1996.

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