ALTHOUGH Alexander xi. had reigned for thirty-five
years, he was not an old man when he died, and his son, who was also called
Alexander, was only eight years old when he began to reign.
Being so young, the little Prince had not yet been
made a knight. Some of the nobles said that he could not be crowned until he
had been made a knight. So the old bishop of St. Andrews knighted the little
boy before the crown was placed upon his head.
With trembling fingers the old man fastened a big
sword, with jewelled scabbard and hilt, round his waist, and tried to make
him understand what all the ceremony meant. Then he led the little knight to
the Stone of Destiny. Sitting there, the crown was placed upon his head by
the Thane of Fife; the sceptre was put into his hand, and the royal robes
upon his shoulders.
Then one by one the
nobles knelt before the little King. Throwing their mantles at his feet, and
placing their hands between his, they swore to be true to him and serve him
When the last lord had risen from his knees there
stepped from out the crowd an old, old man. His hair and beard were long and
white. His back was bent, and as he walked he leaned upon a staff. His
cloak, which covered him from head to heel, was brilliant scarlet. In his
hand he held a harp. He was a minstrel or singer.
Kneeling before the throne the minstrel began to tell,
in a kind of chant, the names of all the King's fathers and grandfathers.
'Hail, King of Albion,' he said, 'Alexander, son of Alexander, son of
William, son of Henry,' and so on and on until he had told the names of all
Alexander's forefathers right back to the prince called Gathelus, who had
come out of Greece so many hundreds of years before. Then, when he had
finished, the minstrel rose from his knees, and all the nobles shouted,
'Hail, King of Albion.'
Two years after he
was crowned, the boy King was married to the little Princess Margaret,
daughter of the King of England.
went to England to be married, and the ceremony took place at York. The
bride and bridegroom were only children, but the wedding was a very splendid
affair. People crowded from every part of the two kingdoms to see the sight.
There were English, Norman, and Scottish nobles, all as grandly dressed as
might be, besides merchants, farmers, and common people of every
The feasting and rejoicing
lasted many days. Hundreds of oxen were roasted whole, fountains ran with
wine. A thousand knights rode behind the little Princess as she went to her
wedding. Every day these knights appeared in new clothes, each suit more
splendid than the last. The boy King, too, was attended by hundreds of
knights, who were dressed as beautifully as those around the Queen.
But in the midst of all this splendour and feasting,
the King of England tried once again to make himself master of Scotland. The
little King did homage to Henry for the lands which he still held in
England, and Henry tried to make him do homage for Scotland too.
But young though he was, Alexander had already been
taught to beware of the greed of the King of England, so he answered, 'I
came into England on a joyful and peaceful errand. I came to marry the
English Princess, not to talk of the affairs of state. I cannot, and Will
not, speak of so important a matter without the advice of my lords and
And although Henry was not very
pleased, he had to be content with this answer. Then, when all the feasting
was over, Alexander went back to Scotland, taking his Queen with him.
As the King was so young there was a great deal of
quarrelling among the nobles as to who should have the power. For of course
Alexander was too young really to rule.
Scottish nobles had been jealous of each other, and now they were jealous of
the English nobles and servants whom the Queen had brought with her. And
among them all the little Queen had an unhappy time. For although she was a
Queen, Margaret was, after all, only a little girl. She had been taken away
from her father and mother and sent to live in a strange country. There,
everything seemed to her to be very dull and quiet, after the bright and gay
English court. So she cried and complained, and was very miserable. She
cried so much that her father, the King of England, heard about it, and lie
sent messengers to Scotland to see if they could make things brighter for
his little daughter. But the Scots were so jealous of these English people,
that it is said they even poisoned one of them, who was a doctor, and whom
the King had sent to take care of the little Queen.
Then Henry came himself, and he appointed a Regent to
rule until Alexander should be twenty-one. But although the Queen was
perhaps happier after this, no English King could settle Scottish matters.
So for some years there were very sad times while the great lords plotted
against one another, each struggling for power, and each trying to gain
possession of the King.
But when Alexander
was about twenty years old, he resolved to be King indeed. He took the power
into his own hands, and he soon showed that he knew how to rule.