Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

James II of Scotland

James II of Scotland (born October 16, 1430, with a still-born twin brother - August 3, 1460) was king of Scotland from 1437 to 1460. He was the son of James I and father of James III. He was known as "Fiery face" because of a conspicuous virmillion birthmark on his face.

He is remembered for the manner in which in 1452 he personally slew the William Douglas, 8th earl of Douglas, the leading member of the powerful Black Douglas family, by stabbing him to death after a meal between the two, and while Douglas was under safe conduct.

This was the climax of a long affair that started during James's boyhood. Despite of the efforts of James's mother, Joan Beaufort, James became the pawn of two unscrupulous Scottish lords, Sir William Crichton and Lord Livingstone. The Black Douglas entered the fray and succeeded in defeating and executing Livingstone. Crichton, in turn, manipulated James into killing the Black Douglas. Eventually, James II defeated the Douglas family at the battle of Arkinholm.

He is remembered for other actions as well. He changed the capital of Scotland from Perth to Edinburgh and made laws that guaranteed the position of a tenant whose land passed to another owner or lord.

He married Mary of Gueldres at Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh, on July 3, 1449. They had seven children, including James III of Scotland and the abducted Margaret.

He died when a cannon blew up near him during a siege of Roxburgh Castle, in which he was trying to recapture the castle from the English.

Preceded by:
James I
List of British monarchs Succeeded by:
James III