James II (r. 1437-1460)

Born at Holyrood on 16 October 1430, James II was only six years old when his father was murdered at Perth.

James II was crowned in Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh in 1437, the first king not to be enthroned at Scone since Kenneth MacAlpin (843-58). James' minority was dominated by the struggles of rival families for power in the realm and control of the king.

Known as 'James of the Fiery Face' because of a birthmark, he began to rule for himself when he was 18, soon after his marriage in July 1449 to Mary of Gueldres, a devout and cultivated Burgundian lady. 

Throughout most of his reign, the powerful Douglas family posed a threat to his throne. When he was ten, his advisers had the young 6th Earl of Douglas and his brother murdered at 'The Black Dinner' in 1440 at Edinburgh Castle. 

In 1452 James himself stabbed the 8th Earl to death during a violent quarrel in Stirling Castle, and later defeated the Douglases at Arkinholm. Three years later, the 9th Earl and his relatives were forfeited for treason and in 1458 his Parliament congratulated James on suppressing dangerous law-breakers.

The threat from his overmighty subjects finally removed, in August 1460 James felt secure enough to take advantage of English divisions caused by the Wars of Roses and besiege Roxburgh Castle (held by the English for more than a century). 

Disaster followed, for as he stood next to one of his cannon it exploded, killing him instantly at the age of 29. He was buried in the Abbey of Holyrood, Edinburgh.