Scotlands History

John Balliol (d. 1314)

John Balliol was chosen by Edward to become King of Scots. He took the throne at Scone on St Andrew's Day 1292 and ruled till 1296. Some historians have argued that Edward deliberately picked a weak king he could control, but Balliol’s claim was legally the strongest and Edward was an expert in the law.

John Balliol’s mother was Dervorgilla of Galloway. Her mother, Margaret, was the daughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon, grandson of King David I of Scotland. Dervorgilla founded Sweetheart Abbey near Dumfries and Balliol College, Oxford. John Balliol married Isabella de Warrene, the daughter of John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey.

From the very start of Balliol’s reign he was forced to swear homage and fealty to Edward I as his superior and overlord. Edward decided that the Scots should fight for him against the French. Balliol was in an impossible position. A group of twelve Scots magnates - four bishops, four earls and four barons - were put in charge of the government of Scotland.  

The Scots made a treaty with the French in October 1295. They agreed to support each other if they were attacked by the English. This Franco-Scottish alliance became known as the ‘Auld Alliance’.

Edward I was furious. He assembled his army and prepared for war.

  • A silver coin with a king's head

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