Scotland's History Articles Alexander II, King of Scots 1214 – 1249

Alexander II, King of Scots 1214 – 1249

The island of Kerrera

Alexander II has the honour of being the only Scottish king to take his invasion force all the way to the south coast of England.

Whilst still a teenager, Alexander backed a rebellion of northern English barons against the King of England, John I. Hoping to secure the territories of Northumberland, Alexander and his army invaded England. They reached the port of Dover where, while waiting to join a French invasion force, the invasion failed. The death of John I saw the English barons change their allegiances. Alexander left empty-handed.

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One of the major events of Alexander's reign was the signing of the Treaty of York with King Henry III of England. Signed in 1237, the terms of the treaty officially defined the border between the two kingdoms. As part of the treaty Alexander finally gave up Scottish claims to the territory of Northumberland - claims that dated back several generations.

Running from the Solway Firth to the River Tweed, the border exists to this day with the exception of Berwick-Upon-Tweed which remained hotly contested by the two nations until it was seized by England in 1482.

Alexander was every bit as ambitious in his designs for Scotland. He courted powerful allies in the north of the country and attempted to bring these territories (territories that had been in the hands of Norse and Gaelic rulers for centuries) under his influence. Notable achievements included suppressing rebellions in Galloway and forcing Argyll to accept him as ruler.

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Alexander turned his attention next to the Western Isles of Scotland. Having long since been controlled by Norse rulers, Alexander made numerous attempts to purchase the islands. The attempts failed but this did not dampen Alexander's resolve.

His attempts to brink the allegiance of the Lord of Argyll to the Norwegian King, Haakon brought the issue of who governed the marginal areas of the Scottish kingdom to a head. In 1249 Alexander raised a fleet and sailed to settle the Argyll dispute once and for all. On the way Alexander fell ill.

While resting on the island of Kerrera, Alexander died. His legacy would be that for the first time Scotland as a territorial kingdom had been officially defined and recognised. His ambitions for expanding his realm would pass on to his son, Alexander III.

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