Edward Balliol (c. 1283 – January 1364) was a claimant to the Scottish throne during the Second War of Scottish Independence. With English help, he ruled parts of the kingdom from 1332 to 1356.
Claim to Scotland
Edward was the eldest son of John Balliol and Isabella de Warenne. John Balliol was King of Scots from 1292 to 1296.
As a child, Edward was betrothed to Isabelle of Valois, the eldest daughter of Charles, Count of Valois (1271-1325) and his first wife Marguerite of Anjou (1273-1299).
Charles of Valois was the third son of King Philippe III of France and Infanta Isabella of Aragon, and was a member of the House of Capet and founder of the House of Valois, whose rule over France would start in 1328.
Margurite of Anjou was a daughter of King Charles II of Naples and Mary of Hungary, the daughter of King Stephen V of Hungary. Her father ceded to her husband, Charles of Valois, the Counties of Anjou and Maine as her dowry.
Edward’s father John resigned his title as King of Scotland in 1296, and it was likely this that caused the King Philippe III of France to break the marriage contract and betroth Isabelle instead to Jean son of Arthur II, Duke of Brittany.
The death of King Robert I of Scots in June 1329 left his six-year-old son David II as King and one of King Roberts’ ablest lieutenants, Thomas Randolph, the Earl of Moray, as regent. However, another of King Robert’s most able lieutenants, the Black Douglas, was killed in battle a year after the king’s death. Then Randolph suddenly also died, on his way to meet an invasion by Edward Balliol backed by King Edward III of England. Balliol’s forces defeated the new regent, the Earl of Mar, at the Battle of Dupplin Moor in Perthshire in August 1332.
Edward Balliol was crowned at Scone in September 1332, but three months later he was forced to flee half-naked back to England, following a surprise attack by nobles loyal to David II at the Battle of Annan.
On his retreat from Scotland, Balliol sought refuge with the Clifford family, land owners in Westmorland, and stayed in their castles at Appleby, Brougham, Brough, and Pendragon.
Edward Balliol was put back into power by the English in 1333, following the siege of Berwick and the Battle of Halidon Hill. Balliol, under the Treaty of Newcastle (1334), then ceded the whole of the district formerly known as Lothian to Edward and paid homage to him as liege lord while staying in Blackfriars friary in Newcastle upon Tyne.
With no serious support in Scotland, he was defeated again in 1334, fleeing Scotland once more.
In November 1334, Edward III invaded again, but unable to bring the Scots to battle, he retreated in February 1335. The final blow was the English defeat on November 30, 1335 at the Battle of Culblean, which was the effective end of Balliol’s attempt to overthrow the King of Scots.
Edward III and Edward Balliol returned again in July 1336 with a large English army and advanced through Scotland, first to Glasgow and then to Perth, destroying the surrounding countryside as they went. But by late 1336, the Scots had regained control over virtually all of Scotland, and by 1338 the tide had turned against the usurper.
Edward Balliol returned to Scotland after the defeat of King David II at the Battle of Neville’s Cross in 1346 and with a small force raised an insurrection in Galloway in a final attempt to gain the crown of Scotland. He only succeeded in gaining control of some of Galloway, with his power diminishing there until 1355.
On January 20, 1356, Edward Balliol surrendered his claim to the Scottish throne to Edward III in exchange for an English pension. He spent the rest of his life living in obscurity. He died childless in January 1364, at Wheatley, Doncaster, Yorkshire, England. The location of his grave has been speculated to be under a Doncaster Post Office. His heirs were his four sisters.