The Great Cause and Edward’s decision

In November 1292, after over a year of arguments and political debate, Edward I announced that John Balliol had a better claim to the throne and would become King of Scotland.

Balliol was chosen for a number of reasons:

  • he was a landholder in Scotland, England and France, so was a connection between the countries
  • it was acknowledged that his claim was the strongest legally - Edward, an expert in law would have recognised this
  • he was a descendant from the eldest daughter of Earl David - legitimate inheritance always passed down the eldest line, a practice in inheritance law known as 'Primogeniture'

It was an unusual decision for Edward. Balliol was the last of the claimants to acknowledge hiss overlordship and Bruce was one of the first.

Bruce and the many of the other Competitors were from noble families who were rivals of the Balliols. As a result, John Balliol would have a difficult time in ruling his new kingdom, especially as he had already accepted Edward I as his overlord.

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