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The Early Stewart Kings

Cleric-Knight-Workman

          Cleric-Knight-Workman

This period was marked by the continuing recovery from the effects of the Wars of Independence and by the ongoing hostility of the Kings of England towards Scotland. The first Stewart Kings, Robert II (1371-90) and Robert III (1390 – 1406) kept things ticking over while their successors James I (1406 – 1437), James II (1437 – 1460) and James III (1460 – 1488) substantially increased centralised royal power and resources. This was particularly true under King James II who with his ongoing conflict with the House of Douglas managed to greatly increase royal control of land and of resources. There was also a concentration on increasing trade, on founding universities and on avoiding conflict with England. There was a particular success in the marriages of the Stewart Kings of this period particularly as regards as that of James III who acquired the Orkney and Shetland Islands in lieu of a dowry payment. The last and often described as the most successful ruler of this period was King James IV (1488 – 1513). He had many successes including building up the  Scottish navy, in particular the huge warship , the Great Michael  which on its launch in 1511 was the largest warship in Europe, twice the size of the more famous Mary Rose. James IV also founded a printing press and the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. All of these many achievements however were eclipsed by his subsequent defeat and death at the Battle of Flodden in September 1513. This needlessly fought battle and the heavy losses sustained in it led directly to the next stage of the Stewart saga.

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