James III of Scotland

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James III (10 July 1451 – 11 June 1488) was King of Scots from 1460 to 1488. James was an unpopular and ineffective monarch owing to an unwillingness to administer justice fairly, a policy of pursuing alliance with the Kingdom of England, and a disastrous relationship with nearly all his extended family.

His reputation as the first Renaissance monarch in Scotland has sometimes been exaggerated, based on late chronicle attacks on him for being more interested in such unmanly pursuits as music than hunting, riding and leading his kingdom into war. In fact the artistic legacy of his reign is slight, especially when compared to that of his successors, James IV and James V. Such evidence as there is consists of portrait coins produced during his reign, displaying the king in three-quarter profile, and wearing an imperial crown, the Trinity Altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes, which was probably not commissioned by the king, and an unusual hexagonal chapel at Restalrig near Edinburgh, perhaps inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

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Early life

He was born to James II of Scotland and Mary of Guelders. His exact date and place of birth have been a matter of debate — although not since the 1950s. Claims were made that he was born in May 1452, or 10 or 20 July 1451. The place of birth was either Stirling Castle or the Castle of St Andrews, depending on the year. His most recent biographer, the historian Norman Macdougall, argued strongly for late May 1452 at St Andrews, Fife. He succeeded his father, James II on 3 August 1460, and was crowned at Kelso Abbey, Roxburghshire a week later.

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