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David II (March 5, 1324 – February 22, 1371) was King of Scots for nearly 42 years, from 1329 until his death in 1371. He was the last male of the House of Bruce. Although David spent long periods in exile or captivity, he managed to resist English attempts to annex his kingdom, and left the monarchy in a strong position.

David II was the eldest and only surviving son of Robert I of Scotland and his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh. He was born on March 5, 1324 at Dunfermline Abbey, Fife. His mother died in 1327, when he was 3 years old. In accordance with the Treaty of Northampton’s terms, on July 17, 1328, when he was 4, David was married to 7 year old Joan of the Tower, at Berwick-upon-Tweed. She was the daughter of Edward II of England and Isabella of France. They had no issue.

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David II, King of Scots.

David became King of Scots upon the death of his father on June 7, 1329, aged 5 years, 3 months, and 3 days. David and his wife were crowned at Scone on November 24, 1331. During David’s minority, Sir Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray was appointed Guardian of Scotland by the Act of Settlement of 1318. After Moray’s death, on July 20, 1332, he was replaced by Donald, Earl of Mar, elected by an assembly of the magnates of Scotland at Perth, August 2, 1332. Only ten days later Mar fell at the Battle of Dupplin Moor. Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell, who was married to Christina, the sister of King Robert I, was chosen as the new Guardian. He was taken prisoner by the English at Roxburgh in April 1333 and was thence replaced as Guardian by Archibald Douglas (the Tyneman), who fell at Halidon Hill that July.

Following the English victory at the Battle of Halidon Hill in July 1333, David and his wife were sent for safety into France, reaching Boulogne on May 14, 1334. They were received very graciously by King Philippe VI. Little is known about the life of the Scottish king in France, except that Château Gaillard was given to him for a residence, and that he was present at the bloodless meeting of the English and French armies in October 1339 at Vironfosse.

In 1346, under the terms of the Auld Alliance, David invaded England in the interests of the French, who were at war with the English in Normandy. After initial success at Hexham, David was wounded, and his army soundly defeated at the Battle of Neville’s Cross on October 17, 1346. David was captured and taken prisoner by Sir John de Coupland, who imprisoned him in the Tower of London. David was transferred to Windsor Castle in Berkshire upon the return of Edward III from France.

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King David II of Scotland and King Edward III of England

On October 3, 1357, after several protracted negotiations with the Scots’ regency council, a treaty was signed at Berwick-upon-Tweed under which Scotland’s nobility agreed to pay 100,000 marks, at the rate of 10,000 marks per year, as a ransom for their king. This was ratified by the Scottish Parliament at Scone on November 6, 1357. His imprisonment had not been a rigorous one, although he remained captive in England for eleven years.

David returned at once to Scotland, bringing with him a mistress, Katherine Mortimer, of whom little is known. This was an unpopular move, and Katherine was murdered in 1360. After six years, owing to the poverty of the kingdom, it was found impossible to raise the ransom instalment of 1363. David then made for London and sought to get rid of the liability by offering to bequeath Scotland to Edward III, or one of his sons, in return for a cancellation of the ransom. David did this with the full awareness that the Scots would never accept such an arrangement. In 1364, the Scottish parliament indignantly rejected a proposal to make Lionel, Duke of Clarence, the next king. Over the next few years, David strung out secret negotiations with Edward III, which apparently appeased the matter.

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David II, King of Scots by Robert Gibb (Scottish, 1801–1837)

His wife, Queen Joan, died on September 7, 1362 (aged 41) at Hertford Castle, Hertfordshire, possibly a victim of the Black Death. He remarried, on about 20 February 20, 1364, Margaret Drummond, widow of Sir John Logie, and daughter of Sir Malcolm Drummond. He divorced her on about March 20, 1370. They had no children. Margaret, however, travelled to Avignon, and made a successful appeal to the Pope Urban V to reverse the sentence of divorce which had been pronounced against her in Scotland. She was still alive in January 1375, four years after David died.

From 1364, David governed actively, dealing firmly with recalcitrant nobles, and a wider baronial revolt, led by his prospective successor, the future Robert II. David continued to pursue the goal of a final peace with England. At the time of his death, the Scottish monarchy was stronger, and the kingdom and the royal finances more prosperous than might have seemed possible.

Death

David II died unexpectedly, and at the height of his power, in Edinburgh Castle on 22 February 22, 1371. He was buried in Holyrood Abbey. At the time of his death, he was planning to marry his mistress, Agnes Dunbar, the niece of Agnes Randolph, who was known as “Black Agnes of Dunbar”. He left no children and was succeeded by his nephew, Robert II, (of the House of Stewart) the son of David’s half-sister Marjorie Bruce. David II was the last male of the House of Bruce.