As well as his advanced years, Robert suffered other disadvantages: he was born illegitimate (made legitimate in 1347), and he had been disabled in 1388 by a horse's kick, so that he had been regarded as unfit to govern for his father.
He was dominated by his younger brother, the Duke of Albany, and when he tried to rule for himself, 'he who was strong oppressed the weak and the whole kingdom was one den of thieves', according to one of the chroniclers.
In 1399, the Scottish Parliament condemned his misrule and appointed his elder son David, Duke of Rothesay to govern for him. Albany, however, imprisoned his nephew and David died in mysterious circumstances in 1402 at Falkland.
Apparently fearing for his own life, Robert III retired to the greater safety of Rothesay Castle on the Isle of Bute and in 1406 arranged to send his younger son James to France.
He died soon after hearing that the 11-year-old prince had been captured at sea by English pirates. Painfully aware of his own deficiencies, he had exclaimed, 'Bury me in a midden and write, "Here lies the worst of kings and the most wretched of men".'