Alexander of Haddington, King of Scots
Ask in Haddington today where, in the town, one of the kings of Scotland was born and you may get a few blank faces. But once, Court Street was King Street and it was here, in 1833 when the foundations of the present county buildings were being dug, that the remains of the Palace of Haddington were discovered. It was here that, King William II (William the Lion) would spend some time and it was here that, on 24th August 1198, his son Alexander was born.
Alexander was the only son of William and Ermengarde of Beaumont. He spent some time in England and was knighted by John of England at Clerkenwell Priory in 1213. Alexander succeeded to the kingdom on the death of his father on 4 December 1214.
Relations with England remained strong and in 1221 Alexander married Henry III’s sister, the Princess Joan. After she died in March 1238 Alexander remarried, taking as second wife Marie de Coucy the daughter of Enguerrand III, Lord of Coucy. That marriage took place on 15 May 1239, and produced one son, the future Alexander III, born in 1241.
A threat of invasion by Henry in 1243 temporarily brought to a halt the camaraderie which existed between Scotland and England. However, a timely response by Alexander in predicting this attack, and the reluctance of the English barons to take part in this war, prompted Henry to make peace the following year at Newcastle.
With the threat from the south laid to rest Alexander decided that his attention now should be directed to securing the Western Isles, which still showed some minimal loyalty to Norway. Whilst he was successful in securing talks with the opposition in the hope of coming to an amicable solution, the talks, nevertheless, did not result in a positive outcome.
Alexander was ever hopeful of persuading Ewen, the son of Duncan, Lord of Argyll, to break his commitment to Haakon IV of Norway. However Ewen rejected all attempts at appeasement. Alexander put together a fleet and sailed forth to change his mind. Disastrously, Alexander was struck down with a fever at the Isle of Kerrera in the Inner Hebrides. He died there in 1249 and was buried at Melrose Abbey, Roxburghshire. His only legitimate child succeeded him as Alexander III, King of Scots.