James (Stewart) Stewart King James IIIrd of Scots
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James (Stewart) Stewart King James IIIrd of Scots (1451 - 1488)

Born in Stirling Castle, Scotlandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 13 Jul 1469 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Scotlandmap
Profile last modified | Created 24 May 2011
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Scottish Nobility
James (Stewart) Stewart King James IIIrd of Scots was a member of Scottish Nobility.
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Preceded by
James II Stewart
King of Scotland
3 August 1460 - 11 June 1488
Succeeded by
James IV


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James (Stewart) Stewart King James IIIrd of Scots is a member of the House of Stewart.
James (Stewart) Stewart King James IIIrd of Scots is a member of Clan Stewart.
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James (Stewart) Stewart King James IIIrd of Scots is Notable.
Roll of Honor
James (Stewart) Stewart King James IIIrd of Scots was Killed in Action during Battle of Sauchieburn.

James III Stewart, King of Scots was born 10 Jul 1451 at Stirling Castle, and baptised several months later at St Andrews.[1] He died on 11 June 1488 at Sauchie Burn, Scotland in the Battle of Sauchieburn. He is buried at Cambuskenneth Abbey, Stirling. He was also known as Seumas III Stiùbhairt , James, The Duke of Rothesay (c. 1451/52?3 August 1460)

Ruled: 3 August 1460 to 11 June 1488
Preceded by: James II, King of Scots 21 February 1437 to 3 August 1460
Succeeded by: James IV, King of Scots 11 June 1488 to 9 September 1513
Coronation: 10 August 1460 Regents during his captivity:

  1. Mary of Guelders (1460?63):
  2. James Kennedy (1463?66):
  3. Robert, Lord Boyd (1466?69)


Son of James II, King of Scots and Mary of Guelders


  1. Margaret of Denmark in July 1469 at Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh was was the daughter of King Christian I of Denmark and Norway, the dowry being the Orkneys, Shetlands and Western Isles


  1. James IV of Scotland
  2. James Stewart, Duke of Ross
  3. John Stewart, Earl of Mar


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.

During his childhood, the government was led by three successive factions, led respectively by the king's mother, Mary of Gueldres (1460-1463) (who briefly secured the return of the burgh of Berwick to Scotland), James Kennedy, Bishop of St Andrews and Gilbert, Lord Kennedy (1463-1466), and Robert, Lord Boyd (1466-1469).

The Boyd faction made itself unpopular, especially with the king, by self-aggrandizement. Lord Boyd's son, Thomas, was made Earl of Arran and married to the king's sister, Mary. However, the family successfully negotiated the king's marriage to Margaret of Denmark, daughter of Christian I of Denmark in 1469, in the process ending the 'Norwegian annual' fee owed to Denmark for the Western Isles, and receiving Orkney and Shetland (theoretically only as a temporary measure to cover Margaret's dowry). Thus Scotland in 1470 reached its greatest ever territorial extent, when James permanently annexed the islands to the crown.

Conflict broke out between James and the Boyd family following the marriage. Robert and Thomas Boyd (with Princess Mary) were out of the country involved in diplomacy when their regime was overthrown. Mary's marriage was later declared void in 1473. The family of Sir Alexander Boyd was executed by James in 1469.

James's policies during the 1470s revolved primarily around ambitious continental schemes for territorial expansion, and alliance with England. Between 1471 and 1473 he suggested annexations or invasions of Brittany, Saintonge andGuelders. These unrealistic aims resulted in parliamentary criticism, especially since the king was reluctant to deal with the more humdrum business of administering justice at home.

In 1474 a marriage alliance was agreed with Edward IV of England, by which the future James IV of Scotland was to marry Princess Cecily of York, daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. It might have been a sensible move for Scotland, but it went against the traditional enmity of the two countries dating back to the reign of Robert I and the Wars of Independence, not to mention the vested interests of the border nobility. The alliance, therefore (and the taxes raised to pay for the marriage) was at least one of the reasons why the king was unpopular by 1479.

Also during the 1470s conflict developed between the king and his two brothers, Alexander, Duke of Albany and John, Earl of Mar. Mar died suspiciously in Edinburgh in 1480 and his estates were forfeited and possibly given to a royal favourite, Robert Cochrane. Albany fled to France in 1479, accused of treason and breaking the alliance with England.

But by 1479 the alliance was collapsing, and war with England existed on an intermittent level in 1480-1482. In 1482 Edward launched a full-scale invasion, led by the Duke of Gloucester, the future Richard III, and including the Duke of Albany, styled "Alexander IV", as part of the invasion party. James, in attempting to lead his subjects against the invasion, was arrested by a group of disaffected nobles, at Lauder Bridge in July 1482. It has been suggested that the nobles were already in league with Albany. The king was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle, and a new regime, led by 'lieutenant-general' Albany, became established during the autumn of 1482. Meanwhile the English army, unable to take Edinburgh Castle, ran out of money and returned to England, having taken Berwick-upon-Tweed for the last time.

James was able to regain power, buying off members of Albany government, so that by the December 1482 Parliament Albany's government was collapsing. In particular his attempt to claim the vacant earldom of Mar led to the intervention of the powerful George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly on the king's side.

In January 1483 Albany fled to his estates at Dunbar. The death of his patron, Edward IV, on 9 April, left Albany in a weak position, and he fled over the border to England. He remained there until 1484, when he launched another abortive invasion at Lochmaben. Another attempted return has been argued to have occurred in 1485, when (admittedly suspect) accounts suggest he escaped from Edinburgh Castle on a rope made of sheets. Certainly his right-hand man, James Liddale of Halkerston, was arrested and executed around that time. Albany was killed in a joust in Paris later that year.

Monument marking the burial place of James III at Cambuskenneth Abbey Despite his lucky escape in 1482, when he easily could have been murdered or executed in an attempt to bring his son to the throne, during the 1480s James did not reform his behavior. Obsessive attempts to secure alliance with England continued, although they made little sense given the prevailing politics. He continued to favor a group of 'familiars', unpopular with the more powerful magnates. He refused to travel for the implementation of justice, and remained invariably resident in Edinburgh. He was also estranged from his wife, Margaret of Denmark, who lived in Stirling, and increasingly his eldest son. Instead he favored his second son.

Matters came to a head in 1488 when he faced an army raised by the disaffected nobles, and many former councilors at the Battle of Sauchieburn, and was defeated and killed. His heir, the future James IV, took arms against his father, provoked by the favoritism given to his younger brother.[citation needed]

A story is told that, on the eve of the Battle of Sauchieburn, Sir David Lindsay, son of Sir John, Lord Lindsay of the Byres, presented James III with a "great grey horse" that would carry him faster than any other horse into or away from the battle. Unfortunately, the horse threw the king during the battle, and James III was either killed in the fall, or was finished off by enemy soldiers.

Note: James III (1451-88), king of Scotland (1460-88), son of King James II, born in Stirling. He was crowned king in 1460 after the death of his father. A regency ruled until 1469, when he began his personal rule. Through his marriage to Margaret of Denmark (1457?-86) in the same year, James gained control of the Orkney and Shetland islands. James was unpopular with the Scottish nobles, who were led by his brother Alexander Stewart, duke of Albany (1454?-85). The nobles seized the king and kept him prisoner in the castle at Edinburgh. Under the duke of Albany, English forces took Berwick and advanced to Edinburgh. In 1487, James made peace with the English, thereby further alienating his turbulent nobles, who rose in rebellion and induced James's son, later James IV, to become their nominal head. In the ensuing battle at Sauchieburn between the nobles and the Royalists, James was defeated, and he was murdered after the battle by one of the rebels. He was succeeded by James IV.

Data Changed:
Date: 25 APR 2009
Time: 14:36:27

Note: James III of Scotland (1451/ 1452 – June 11, 1488), son of James II and Mary of Gueldres, created Duke of Rothesay at birth, king of Scotland 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 son, James IV and grandson, 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.

Data Changed:
Date: 04 APR 2010
Time: 15:14:24

Note: James III (1453-88), king of Scotland, was the son of James II. Until 1466 the government was carried on by guardians. Of these the Earl of Angus died in 1462, and Bishop Kennedy of St. Andrews in 1465, and up to 1483, James was occupied in making himself the real master of his kingdom. Owing to the intrigues of Louis XI, hostilities between England and Scotland recommenced. His weak government provoked a rising of the nobles, which led to his defeat at Sauchieburn, near Bannockburn, and he was murdered while fleeing from the defeat. James III patronized the fine arts, and under him a vigorous national literature was developed. Robert Henryson, the poet, was the Scottish Chaucer. [World Wide Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1935]

Data Changed:
Date: 14 FEB 2010
Time: 05:54:23

Research Notes

James III's Date of Birth
  • James Balfour Paul lists the year of James's birth as 1491[2] however that is more likely the year during which his sister Mary was born.


  1. Burnett, George (ed). Rotuli Scaccarii Regum Scotorum (Exchequer Rolls of Scotland). Edinburgh: General Register House (1882), vol. 5 (1437-1454), preface, p. lxxxviii.
  2. Paul, Sir James Balfour. The Scots Peerage. Edinburgh: D. Douglas (1904), vol. 1, p. 20.
See Also:
  • Royal Ancestry D. Richardson 2013 Vol. I page 667
  • Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999)
  1. Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family, page 238
  2. Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family, page 237

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Comments: 8

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Would someone please add the category for James mtDNA? James III (1451-1488) => U5b* (mtDNA) Royalty mtDNA results category [[ ]] Category: MtDNA Haplogroup U5b
posted by Elsie Gorman
edited by Elsie Gorman
If you can provide a verifiable source for accuracy, we would add it but as it is, the site referenced has no sources. Eupedia doesn't list him and I haven't found any published studies that cover his mtDNA. While it is possible, or even likely, that this is correct information, the Scotland Project wants verifiable data on profiles.
posted by Doug McCallum UE
edited by Doug McCallum UE
This profile could really use a full rewrite. There appears to be a lot of material lifted from other websites. Would one of the PMs or another interested party be willing to take a look at it?

Many thanks!

posted by Bobbie (Madison) Hall
James the III King of Scots, and his wife Princess Margaret of Denmark are buried together, the inscription on their tomb (which is shown inside an Iron fense and locked w/chain and lock shows James death as 2 June 1438 - Pause the linked video at 8:11 to read the inscription, just before this spot, the person touring the Bell tower and the Cemetery talks just a bit about them both being buried here, then zooms in on the enscription quickly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X49vu7V3tG8 - pause a 8:11
posted by Arora (G) Anonymous
'half Germain, half Scottish. this is where the Germain heritage comes from. His Mother. Bet she goes to the vikings. Or would it be King Eric?
posted by David Martin
Birth date seems to differ from Richardson (Royal Ancestry says born May 1452; see under BRUS).
posted by Andrew Lancaster
The Biography section is largely copied from Wikipedia. It should be reworked as in against Wikitree standards. See http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Copying_from_Wikipedia
posted by Marty (Lenover) Acks