#OnThisDay in 1488: James III of Scotland is murdered

On this day in 1488, King James III of Scotland was murdered soon after the Battle of Sauchieburn.

King James III ascended to the throne at the age of eight years old after his father King James II passed away. As the young king was only a boy, three different authorities administered the kingdom in his place. The first of these was his mother, Mary of Guelders who was in authority for three years. The second was a faction comprised of James and Gilbert Kennedy. The third presider over the kingdom was Robert, Lord Boyd.

After King Edward IV of England sent soldiers including the Duke of Albany to invade Scotland King James III attempted to thwart the attack. King James III was captured by nobles at Lauder Bridge in July 1482, who may have been working with the Duke of Albany. Albany established a new faction which administered Scotland as the King was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle.

After bribing Albany’s men, King James III was able to flee to Dunbar. King Edward IV passed and Albany returned to England losing control over Scotland. King James III was able to regain control over the realm and return order to the people. In 1486 Pope Innocent VIII blessed a Golden Rose and had it sent to King James III as recognition of his right to Scotland.

In 1488 King James III gave titles and authority to his second son as he was the favorite of the King, and he gave more authority to several others in an attempt to gain allies. A faction of rebels captured the King’s son, the future King James IV, and made him the leader of their faction. It is believed that he was only a figurehead and had no actual authority over the faction. On June 11, 1488 King James’s men were attacked by the faction supposedly lead by his son. Narrowly escaping King James took refuge in Milltown where it is believed that a man disguised as a priest stabbed the King killing him.

King James III was killed at the age of 28, attempting to restore peace to a realm which was suffering from rioting factions.