The elder son of John Balliol, King of Scots, Edward was imprisoned with his father in England and later shared his exile in France. 

In 1324, Edward II decided to bring him back as a rival to Robert I. In return for the English king's support, Balliol ceded to him a large part of southern Scotland. 

During the minority of David II, Balliol invaded Scotland with English assistance, routed the Scots at the Battle of Dupplin in Perthshire on 12 August 1332, and was made King of Scots at Scone on 24 September. 

Less than three months after that, he was forced to flee south again. He returned, however, held a parliament at Edinburgh in 1335 and was in Perth several times between then and 1338. 

A final attempt to recover Scotland in 1347 left him in control of a diminishing area in Galloway until 1355. 

He finally resigned his claim to the Scottish throne in January 1356 and died childless in 1364.