Robert II of Scotland

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Robert II (early 1316 – 19 April 1390) became King of Scots in 1371 as the first monarch of the House of Stewart. He was the son of Walter Stewart, hereditary High Steward of Scotland and of Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert I and of his first wife Isabella of Mar. (The marriage of princess Marjorie took place in 1315, making Robert's probable birth date early in 1316.)

Robert I had made his brother Edward his heir ahead of Marjorie, but following Edward's death without issue on 3 December 1318 at the Battle of Dundalk in Ireland, Robert Stewart became heir presumptive to his grandfather (His mother Marjore having died a few hours after his birth in 1316).Robert Stewart's rights as heir to the throne lapsed on the birth of a son, afterwards David II, to Robert I and his second wife Elizabeth de Burgh on 5 March 1324.

Robert Stewart became High Steward following his father's death on 9 April 1326, and the parliament held in July 1326 confirmed him as heir presumptive should Prince David die without issue. In 1329 Robert I died and the six year-old David succeeded him on the throne. Sir Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray became the designated Guardian of Scotland, and the young Steward passed into the care of his uncle Sir James Stewart of Durrisdeer.

Edward Balliol, son of King John Balliol, assisted by English and Scottish nobles disinherited by Robert I, invaded Scotland and he and his supporters inflicted heavy defeats on the Bruce party at Dupplin Moor on 11 August 1332 and at Halidon Hill on 10 July 1333. The Steward fought at Halidon, where his uncle, Sir James Stewart, was killed. Following this battle, Balliol provided his supporter David Strathbogie, the titular earl of Atholl, with the Steward's lands and estates in the west, forcing Robert to escape to the fortress of Dumbarton Castle on the Clyde estuary, which also sheltered David II. In May 1334 David II escaped to France - leaving the Steward and John Randolph, earl of Moray as joint guardians of the kingdom. The Steward succeeded in regaining his lands, but his relationship with Randolph disintegrated. Randolph was taken prisoner by the English in July 1335 and in September the Steward's possessions were once again targeted by Edward III's forces. This may have caused the Steward to submit to Edward Balliol and the English king—he certainly was no longer guardian of the kingdom by September 1335. Robert who had lost his position to Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell, was once again guardian following Murray's death in 1338 and retained the office until David II returned from France in June 1341. The Steward accompanied David II into battle at Neville's Cross on 17 October 1346 but he and Patrick Dunbar, earl of March escaped or fled the field while David was taken prisoner.

The Steward married Elizabeth Mure c.1348, legitimising his four sons and five daughters. His subsequent marriage to Euphemia de Ross in 1355 produced two sons and two surviving daughters and became the basis of a dispute as to the line of succession.

Robert joined a rebellion against David in 1363, but submitted to him under threat that any further defiance would mean the end of his rights in the line of succession. In 1364 the Scots Parliament dismissed David's proposal to write off the remaining amounts due to England under the terms of his ransom in return for naming a Plantagenet as his heir should he remain childless. On David's unexpected death in 1371, Robert succeeded to the throne at the age of 55. The English still controlled large sectors in the Lothians and in the border country. Robert II allowed his southern earls to engage in conflicts in the English zones to regain their territories, halted trade with England and renewed treaties with France. By 1384 the Scots had re-taken most of the foreign-occupied lands, but following an Anglo-French truce, Robert proved reluctant to commit Scotland to all-out war and obtained inclusion in the peace talks being conducted by England and France. Following a palace coup in 1384 he lost control of the country, first to his eldest son, John, Earl of Carrick, afterwards King Robert III, and then from 1388 to John's younger brother, Robert, Earl of Fife, afterwards 1st Duke of Albany. Robert II died in Dundonald Castle in 1390 and lies buried at Scone Abbey.

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