Edward Balliol

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Seal of Edward Balliol as the Scottish King

Edward Balliol (* after 1281 ; † between January 1 and 24, 1364 in Wheatley ) was a Scottish heir to the throne. During the Second Scottish War of Independence he was temporarily King of Scotland from 1332 . Although he was eventually expelled from Scotland, he stubbornly insisted on his claim to the throne, which he did not finally renounce until 1356.


Edward Balliol was the eldest son of the Anglo-Scottish nobleman John Balliol and his wife Isabella de Warenne . He was probably born shortly after his parents' marriage, which occurred before February 1281. He had a younger brother, Henry († 1332).

Childhood, youth and exile

Little is known about Balliol's childhood and youth. His father was after the death of King Alexander III. one of the contenders for the Scottish throne and was elected King of Scotland in 1292. However, he came into conflict with the English King Edward I , who was one of Edward's godparents, and had to lay down the crown at his pressure in 1296. The family then moved to England. The young Edward Balliol lived at times in the household of the English heir to the throne Eduard , at times he lived in the Tower of London . From 1299 his father lived in France under the supervision of the Pope, while Edward stayed in England under the supervision of his cousin, John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey . In Scotland, a number of nobles such as John Comyn of Badenoch , the Earl of Buchan , William Oliphant , Adam Gordon or Ingram de Umfraville saw him as the rightful heir to the throne, but in 1306 Robert Bruce rose to be king and succeeded Alexander III. to declare the last rightful king. After Bruce had consolidated his rule in the fight against the English, he had a parliament declare the Scottish possessions of John Balliol forfeited. Edward Balliol was still living in honorable custody in England when he moved in 1310 to the household of Thomas of Brotherton and Edmund of Woodstock , the younger brothers of King Edward II. After his father's death in 1313 or 1314, he was allowed to inherit the family estates in France. As a result, apart from occasional visits to England, he lived in France. His local estates Bailleul , Hornoy , Hélicourt and Dampierre in Picardy were, however, heavily burdened with the debts of his father. According to the Franco-Scottish treaty of 1295 , he was to be married to Johanna , a daughter of Karl von Valois and thus niece of the French King Philip IV , but this was not pursued after the overthrow of his father. After that he did not pursue any further marriage plans, presumably because, because of his life in exile, he could not find a bride who corresponded to the status that he himself claimed.

Claims to the Scottish throne

At the end of 1318 Balliol came again to England and in September 1319 had taken part in the unsuccessful siege of Berwick by an English army. Presumably the Soules conspiracy against the Scottish King Robert Bruce, which was uncovered in 1320, had the goal of helping Balliol to the throne. The exact circumstances of the conspiracy are unclear. At the end of the 1320s, however, there were various attempts to bring Balliol to England from his French exile. In 1325 the English Queen Isabelle traveled to France for diplomatic negotiations. She had become estranged from her husband Edward II and remained in France to protest against the influence of the favorites at her husband's court. Henry de Beaumont already lived there , who in vain made claims to Scottish possessions, as well as other English barons who had to flee into exile as a result of opposition to Edward II. These exiles supported Isabelle when she landed in England with a small army in 1326 and overthrew Edward II's rule. Instead of the new, but underage King Edward III. First Isabelle and her lover Roger Mortimer were the actual rulers in England. In the summer of 1327 they led a campaign against a Scottish army that had invaded England. However, the Scots escaped undefeated. Thereupon peace negotiations with Scotland began, which led to the conclusion of the peace of Edinburgh and Northampton in 1328 . In it, Robert Bruce was recognized as the rightful Scottish king. In addition, only a few English barons were granted claims to Scottish territories in the peace, while the claims of most of the English barons were considered extinguished by the peace. These barons were called the disinherited . Balliol was expected in England in mid-July 1327, but it is unclear whether he took part in the unsuccessful campaign against the Scots. In the next few years he apparently lived in France again, because in the summer of 1330 Mortimer tried again to bring Balliol from Picardy to England. He apparently wanted to prevent Balliol from allying himself with the exiled disinherited around Beaumont.

Invasion of the disinherited in Scotland

After the young Edward III. In October 1330, when his mother Isabelle and von Mortimer overthrew his mother's rule in a coup d'état, Balliol had increasing hopes of winning the Scottish throne. Robert Bruce had died in 1329, and the Earl of Moray was the Guardian of his minor son David II . Balliol visited England several times after 1330 and was in contact with both the disinherited and the king. Edward III. did not want to openly support an invasion of the disinherited in Scotland, but he tacitly tolerated their preparations. Balliol probably paid homage to the English king and thus recognized it as overlord before he left for Scotland. When the Earl of Moray died on July 20, 1332, the question of power in Scotland was not entirely resolved. A small army of the disinherited, led by Balliol and Henry de Beaumont, landed with a small fleet in Scotland in early August to put Balliol on the Scottish throne, starting the Second Scottish War of Independence . On August 11, the disinherited were able to decisively defeat a Scottish army in the battle of Dupplin Moor .

King of Scotland

Coronation in scone and attempt to consolidate rule

After the victory of Dupplin Moor, the disinherited occupied Perth . Balliol now received support from some Scottish barons and prelates, and on September 24th he was enthroned in Scone by the Earl of Fife and crowned King of Scotland by the Bishop of Dunkeld . Over the next few months he tried to consolidate his rule in Scotland against the opposition of the followers of the young David II. At this point Eduard III. his attitude towards the new Scottish king has not yet been finalized. Should Balliol really remain the Scottish king, then Edward III expected. it was quite obvious that he held Scotland as a fiefdom of the English king. In November 1332 Balliol himself began to consider paying homage to the English king and ceding a large part of southern Scotland to the English king. He even suggested Johanna , Eduard III's young sister. to marry. She was married to his rival David II, but since the marriage had not yet been consummated due to her age, the marriage could still be dissolved. Edward III. on the other hand, considered whether he should not take control of all of Scotland himself, which he believed he had the right to do. He introduced this idea to Parliament in York , where it met with cold rejection. However, these considerations were all overtaken by the next events. After a skirmish near Roxburgh in which the newly appointed Guardian Andrew Murray was captured by Balliol, Balliol withdrew to Annan in December 1332 . He wanted to celebrate Christmas there, near the ancestral family estates in Galloway . However, he was surprised by a force led by Sir Archibald Douglas and John Randolph, 3rd Earl of Moray . In the following battle , among others, his brother Henry fell, while Balliol was only barely able to escape under humiliating circumstances and flee to England. As a result, his rule in Scotland collapsed.

New invasion of Scotland and reinstatement as king

With the help of his English supporters, Balliol raised a small army in the spring of 1333, with which he again invaded Scotland from March and besieged the strategically important border town of Berwick . Edward III. now faced the decision to wage an open war for Scotland or to give up all hope of gaining supremacy there. After his father's failures in the war against Scotland , the king hoped to gain prestige through victorious campaigns, so that he decided to campaign in Scotland. The English king moved to Scotland with a large army and took charge of the siege of Berwick. The Guardian Archibald Douglas would eventually have to risk an open battle against the English army if he was to save Berwick from conquest. The Scottish Army was decisively defeated on July 19th in the Battle of Halidon Hill . The victory was so clear that after the battle Balliol, who had commanded a wing of the English army, could be reinstated as Scottish king. The young David II fled into French exile in view of the British successes.

Balliol now quickly tried to reward his English supporters. He gave them large estates in Scotland, and he began to set up his own administration. He appointed William Bullock as Chamberlain and administrator of Cupar Castle , in addition he appointed at least one new sheriff with Alan Lisle as sheriff of Bute and Cowal . Hardly any documents or other records have survived from this administration, and Balliol probably found it difficult to maintain his claim to rule in Scotland. In February 1334 he held a parliament in Holryrood that approved his agreements with the English king. In mid-June he renounced Berwick , Roxburgh , Selkirk , Peebles , Dumfries and most of Lothian in favor of the English king . On June 19, he paid homage to Edward III in Newcastle . formally as his feudal lord.

Successes and losses

Despite Balliol's apparent success, his reign remained severely threatened. There was a dispute among the disinherited about the allocation of the properties they claimed. The resistance of the followers of David II had not died down either. Robert the Steward in Ayrshire and William Douglas in south-west Scotland in particular continued to fight against Balliol's rule. In the summer of 1334 there were rebellions against the disinherited in large parts of Scotland. Balliol had to flee to Berwick in August 1334, from where he met Edward III. asked for further assistance. This made it clear that his rule could not be held without considerable English support. Edward III. was initially ready to give Balliol this support. In the winter of 1334 to 1335 he supported Balliol in a campaign to regain control of Roxburghshire. The campaign had little success, but Balliol planned further campaigns for 1335. Among other things, he suggested attacking the west coast of Scotland from Ireland and bringing it under English control. In June 1335 Balliol himself moved from Newcastle without resistance along the Scottish east coast, while Edward III. advanced from Carlisle to Nithsdale . The two armies met near Glasgow at the end of July , from where they moved together to Perth. In addition to the existing garrisons in Roxburgh and Lochmaben , English troops were also stationed in Stirling and Perth. The territories that came to England after the agreement of 1334 were now to be placed under English administration, and English sheriffs were installed in Berwick, Edinburgh and Dumfries . Numerous Scots, who had left Balliol last year after his defeat, now sought his goodwill again. Even Robert the Steward is said to have submitted to him. In the autumn of 1335 Balliol was at the height of his power. But he did not stay in Scotland, but withdrew to Holy Island off the coast of Northumberland, where he wanted to spend the winter. Maybe he wanted to do this because of his increasing age. During his absence, he appointed David Strathbogie, Earl of Atholl to the Guardian.

Map of Scotland (blue) with the areas that Edward Balliol wanted to cede to England (brown)

Loss of rule in Scotland

The resistance against Balliol did not decrease. Notably Andrew Murray, whom the English released after paying a ransom, and William Douglas continued their fight. On November 30, 1335, Murray defeated Strathbogie at the Battle of Culblean , who fell in the battle. In the autumn of 1336 Eduard III. another campaign to Scotland, during which Bothwell Castle in Lanarkshire was retaken. In addition, the English renewed the fortifications of Perth while Aberdeen was sacked. However, the beginning of the Hundred Years War drew the attention of the English king to France in the following years. Balliol's rule was increasingly endangered by the lack of support from England. In 1337 Andrew Murray led a successful campaign to Angus and Fife , during which he was able to conquer the castles of St Andrews and Leuchars . Cupar Castle withstood his attack, but he was able to capture and grind Bothwell Castle. The English sieges of Dunbar , however, were unsuccessful in 1337 and 1338. In August 1338 Balliol was again in Perth, after which he apparently left Scotland and retreated to Northern England.

More battles for Scotland

In 1339 Balliol was appointed commander of an English army that was supposed to take action against the Scots. In October 1339 he received money for 1264 soldiers from Cumberland and Westmorland who were to relieve the besieged Perth under his command. Its garrison surrendered on August 17th. The followers of David II were able to recapture further areas of Scotland as a result. In 1341 Edinburgh fell to the Scots, and in June 1341 David II and his wife Johanna were able to return to Scotland to the cheers of the population. In June 1342 the Scots were able to conquer Roxburgh and Stirling. Balliol stayed mainly in the north of England during this time and had little influence on politics in Scotland. Edward III. but continued to reward him for his services. Balliol was appointed commander of armies several times, but little is known of their actions. The focus of his activities was now in Galloway, where the estates of his ancestors were. There several important members of the gentry Eduard III met in August 1339. subject. Balliol could not conquer Buittle Castle , his family's ancestral home , but he appears to have fortified Hestan Island off the coast of Kirkcudbrightshire . There he left a garrison under the command of Duncan MacDowell , which on the orders of Edward III. was supplied with provisions several times.

Loss of support from Edward III, abdication and last years

After the English victory in the Battle of Neville's Cross on October 17, 1346, Balliol again served as the commander of an English army that was to occupy southern Scotland. Balliol and his claims were hardly of any use to Eduard III at that time. Instead, the English king tried to reach an agreement with David II, who had been captured in battle, to secure the border with Scotland. In these negotiations Balliol's claims to the Scottish throne proved to be an obstacle. A letter probably drawn up in 1350 shows that the English king was now putting pressure on Balliol so that he would be more accommodating in negotiations with the Scots. Before 1351 there was the prospect of an agreement between Edward III. and David II, whereupon the Scottish King was released. However, the Scots did not accept the concessions their king had made to the English king, whereupon David II again voluntarily went into English captivity. At this point it was clear that Edward III. wanted to stop all support for Balliol's claims. In 1356 Balliol finally renounced all claims to the Scottish throne in favor of the English king because of his age and poor health. In return, Edward III granted him. an annual pension of £ 2,000. Balliol, who had remained unmarried, spent his final years in retirement at Wheatley, near Doncaster in Yorkshire, where he likely died.

See also


  • Ranald Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. The formative Years of a Military Career . Oxford University Press, Oxford 1965.
  • Bruce Webster: Balliol, Edward (b. In or after 1281, d. 1364). In: Henry Colin Gray Matthew, Brian Harrison (Eds.): Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , from the earliest times to the year 2000 (ODNB). Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004, ISBN 0-19-861411-X , ( oxforddnb.com license required ), as of 2004

Web links

Commons : Edward Balliol  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. P. 71.
  2. ^ Geoffrey WS Barrow: Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland . Eyre & Spottiswoode, London 1965, p. 235.
  3. ^ Geoffrey WS Barrow: Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland . Eyre & Spottiswoode, London 1965, p. 393.
  4. Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. P. 72.
  5. ^ Geoffrey WS Barrow: Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland . Eyre & Spottiswoode, London 1965, p. 91.
  6. Michael Brown: The wars of Scotland, 1214-1371 . Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh 2004, ISBN 0-7486-1237-8 , p. 219.
  7. Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. P. 41.
  8. Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. P. 64.
  9. Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. P. 75.
  10. Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. P. 76.
  11. Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. P. 93.
  12. Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. P. 104.
  13. Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. P. 119.
  14. Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. P. 140.
  15. Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. P. 160.
  16. Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. P. 167.
  17. Nicholson: Edward III and the Scots. P. 218.
predecessor Office successor
David II King of Scotland
David II