With the sudden death of Alexander III, Scotland was left without an obvious heir to the throne. At first, Alexander's wife Yolande declared that she was pregnant with an heir, countering the claims of two powerful nobles, Robert Bruce (father of Robert I of Scotland) and John Balliol, each of whom wanted the throne for himself. When it was discovered that Yolande was not really pregnant, it was decided that Alexander's only surviving descendant, his three-year-old great-granddaughter Margaret, would ascend to the throne under a regency of six nobles.
Margaret was the daughter of Eric II of Norway and his wife Margaret, granddaughter of Alexander III, died in childbirth. Fearing that a young and powerless queen would invite civil war between the rival claimants to the throne, the Scottish nobles appealed to Edward I of England to intervene. Eager to extend his own influence in Scotland, Edward arranged the Treaty of Birgham (1290), by which Margaret was betrothed to his son the Prince of Wales (later Edward II of England), in return for an assurance of Scottish independence (though he would serve as ward for the young queen). Margaret set sail from Norway to her new realm, but took ill during the stormy voyage and died soon after reaching the Orkney Islands. With her death, the Canmore dynasty came to an end.
In the two years that followed, Scotland was left with fourteen claimants to the throne. Once again, Edward was asked to intercede. His efforts to exert his own authority over the country eventually led to the First Scottish War of Independence.
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