Fact of the day: 16th October

On this day in 1430 James II of Scotland (d. 1460) was born.

James II who reigned as king of Scots from 1437 on, was the son of James I and Joan Beaufort. Nothing is known of his early life, but by his first birthday his twin and only brother, Alexander, who was also the older twin, had died, thus making James the heir apparent and Duke of Rothesay.

Curiously enough, James held no other titles while Duke of Rothesay. On 21 February 1437, James I was assassinated and the six-year-old Duke of Rothesay immediately succeeded him as James II.

In 1449, nineteen-year-old James married fifteen-year-old Mary of Guelders, daughter of the Duke of Gelderland. She had numerous royal ancestors such as John II of France and John of Bohemia.

She bore him seven children, six of whom survived into adulthood. Subsequently, the relations between Flanders and Scotland improved. James’s nickname, Fiery Face, referred to a conspicuous vermilion birthmark on his face which appears to have been deemed by contemporaries an outward sign of a fiery temper. download (16)

James was a politic, and singularly successful king. He was popular with the commoners, with whom, like most of the Stewarts, he socialized often, both in times of peace and war.

His legislation has a markedly popular character. He does not appear to have inherited his father’s taste for literature, which was “inherited” by at least two of his sisters; but the foundation of the university of Glasgow during his reign, by Bishop Turnbull, shows that he encouraged learning; and there are also traces of his endowments to St. Salvator’s, the new college of Archbishop Kennedy at St Andrews. He possessed much of his father’s restless energy. However, his murder of the Earl of Douglas leaves a stain on his reign.

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