The Scottish appeal and the decision at Norham

With civil war threatening, the Guardians invited Edward I to help select the next king of Scotland.

Edward arrived with an army at the Scottish border in April 1291. He forced the Guardians to meet him at Norham Castle, on the English side of the border.

He told the Guardians that before making a decision on who would become king, the nobles would have to accept him as their overlord. (An overlord is a king or lord, who holds power over other lords).

This meant the future king would be controlled by Edward. Scotland's independence was under threat.

The Guardians replied stating that only a king could consider such a demand. This could only happen after Edward had selected one.

Edward wrote to English monasteries asking them to search their archives for legal evidence of English overlordship in Scotland. He also threatened to blockade Scottish ports with his navy and summoned men to form an army.

The Competitors

Thirteen ‘Competitors to the Throne’ (nobles who claimed that they should be king) petitioned Edward I.

In the end, only two of the competitors had any serious claim to the throne, John Balliol and Robert Bruce.

Before deciding Edward I demanded that all the competitors accept him as their overlord. This agreement is known as the 'Award of Norham’ and gave him control over Scotland.

The Scottish nobles thought that this promise would be forgotten once a king was chosen.

The claimants gave in to Edward's demands and accepted him as their overlord.

This was an important moment as its meant that Scotland became legal possession of Edward. His position changed from neutral observer to judge.