Background to the Scottish Wars of Independence, 1286-1328
Scotland, during the reign of Alexander III, has been described by chroniclers and historians as the Golden Age, due mainly to the peaceful expansion of the central authority of the Scottish crown.
There are several reasons explaining the economic prosperity of the Scottish kingdom: Alexander's reign saw an increase in wool being exported to Flanders, in Belgium, an increase in the amount of coinage in circulation and finally, the expansion of Scotland in the Western Isles and Skye.
Scotland was seen by many countries, in Europe, as a trading partner and political ally; ships, built in Inverness, were used to carry troops on crusade, Aberdeen was seen to be an important economic nucleus for the North Sea and Berwick flourished due to wool. Berwick's wool trade brought silver into the economy and allowed Alexander to build several monasteries and castles.
The Church played a major role in Scottish life in the 13th century and was closely involved in the governing of the Kingdom. During the 1270’s, seven of the Scottish dioceses were left vacant. This meant that much of the land of Scotland did not have the representation of a bishop. Without a bishop, governing these areas became problematic. Despite this the Scottish crown was entitled to the revenues of the vacant bishop’s estates. This brought much needed revenue to the crown. Alexander also profited from the absence of adult tenants for long periods in the earldoms of Carrick, Angus, Atholl and Fife. These profits were used to support the king and his family.
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