The House Of Stewart
Robert II, the first of the royal House of Stewart, was born on 2nd March, 1316, the son of Robert the Bruce's daughter Marjorie and Walter, 6th High Steward of Scotland. He was delivered by caesarian section, his mother failed to survive the ordeal, dying a few hours later.
The office of High Steward
was hereditary and had been held by Walter's family for generations. Originally
the FitzAlans, of Breton descent, the family had arived in Scotland in the
twelfth century. They derived their surname from their office, which gradually became corrupted to Stewart. In 1318 a parliament
at Scone had declared the two year old Robert as his grandfather's successor, but he was displaced as the heir to the Scottish throne on the birth of Robert's only son, David.
When his younger uncle, David Bruce, ascended the throne in 1329, Robert fought in his support against Edward Balliol, the son of the Bruce's rival, the puppet King, John Balliol. He was eventually appointed co-regent along with John Randolph, Earl of Moray. He fought for David II at the Battle of Nevilles Cross, where David was taken prisoner but Robert fled. He was appointed Regent of Scotland for a second time for the duration of King David's English captivity. The event was the cause of friction between Robert and his uncle the King, who angrily responded by accusing him of desertion at Neville's Cross.
In 1371, when his nephew died childless, Robert finally succeeded to the throne of Scotland at the age of fifty-five. He was crowned at Scone, Perthshire, in March, 1371. Reported to have been tall and handsome, in character he was the very antithesis of the famous grandfather whose name he bore. Robert was timid, indecisive and weak-willed.
The new King of Scotland had been twice married. His first wife, Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan, the daughter of Sir Adam Mure, had presented him with ten children. At the time of his accession he was married to Euphemia, daughter of Hugh, Earl of Ross, by whom he had further issue.
All of Robert's children by his first wife were born out of wedlock. Elizabeth Mure and Robert had finally married in 1347, but because they were within the forbidden degree of consanguinity, a dispensation had to be acquired from the church which further legitimised their offspring.
Controversy existed as to whether any of the couple's many children could legally succeed to the throne. Robert eventually came to the decision that his heir was to be his first born son by Elizabeth, John, Earl of Carrick, who was also High Steward of Scotland. The Earl of Carrick, now heir to the throne, was a sickly man with a pronounced limp.
The unruly Scottish barons held little respect for their new King. Robert was considered an old and weak man and failed to exercise strong control over them.
Robert II deputized the government of the unruly Highlands to his third son, Alexander, Earl of Buchan, known as the Wolf of Badenoch. Alexander ruled with savagery and plundered Elgin with ferocity.
As Robert II grew increasingly infirm, his second surviving son Robert, Earl of Fife, was appointed guardian of the kingdom. After an ineffectual reign of nineteen years, Robert died at Dundonald on 19th April, 1390. He was seventy-four at his death, a remarkable age for the time. He was succeeded by his son Robert III.
The Children of Robert II
King Robert II had more children than any other King of Scotland, in all 15 by his two marriages.
The King's first wife, Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan, daughter of Sir Adam Mure, had formerly been his mistress. He married her in 1336, but this marriage was said to be uncanonical. Robert and Elizabeth were re-married in 1349 and all of their 10 children were legitimated at this date:-
(1) John, Earl of Carrick (later ROBERT III) c.1340-1406
(2) Alexander, Earl of Buchan 'The Wolf of Badenoch' 1343-1394
(3) Margaret Stewart m. John Macdonald, Lord of the Isles
(4) Walter Stewart d. 1362
(5) Robert, Earl of Albany 1339-1420
(6) Marjorie Stewart m. (i) John Dunbar, Earl of Moray (ii) Alexander Keith
(7) Jean Stewart m. (i) Sir John Keith (ii) Sir John Lyon (iii) Sir James Sandilands
(8) Isabel Stewart m. (i) James Douglas, Earl of Douglas (ii) David Edmondstone
(9) Katherine Stewart
(10) Elizabeth Stewart m. sir Thomas Hay, Lord High Constable of Scotland
By his second wife, Euphemia of Ross, daughter of Hugh, Earl of Ross, the King had a further 5 children:-
(11) David, Earl of Caithness d. before 1389
(12) Walter Stewart, Earl of Atholl d. 1437
(13) Margaret Stewart
(14) Elizabeth Stewart m. David Lindsay, Earl of Crawford
(15) Egidia Stewart m. Sir William Douglas of Nithsdale
Robert II also had 8 illegitimate children by various mothers.