On this day, 4 April 1406, Robert III of Scotland died. He was my 19th great-grandfather.
That same year, John Stewart was crippled when a horse kicked him. After his injury in 1388, John Stewart was unable to engage in military pursuits and trusted the management of the government entirely to his brother Robert, Earl of Fife.
On 14 August 1390, John Stewart was crowned Robert III, King of Scotland, at the Augustinian Abbey, Scone. He was 53 years old.
John Stewart had always been a gentle, kind, and just man; however, he lacked the streak of ruthlessness needed to rule. On his accession to the throne, he was already a chronic invalid who battled depression. Gradually, he became an unwell recluse.
Eventually, Robert III transferred power to his brother Robert, Earl of Fife, and his eldest son, David. David was charming but irresponsible and seemed to lack good judgment. For example, when David was betrothed, he repudiated the girl, thereby making her father his enemy. David rivaled for power with his uncle Robert, Earl of Fife, refused to be set aside.
In 1401, Robert of Fife persuaded Robert III to order his own son’s arrest. Robert of Fife imprisoned David in Falkland Castle, where he died in March 1402 of either starvation of dysentery.
That same year, the forces Henry IV of England invaded Scotland, and the Scots were defeated at the Battle of Homildon Hill.
Robert III began to fear for the fate of his only surviving son, young James. In February 1406, James was secretly taken to Dirleton Castle to await a ship bound for France. Robert of Fife sent a large force after the Crown Prince, and a battle was fought. James was ferried via a rowing boat to the Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth. The 11-year-old James and his guardians were stranded for nearly one month on the island before a ship arrived to bring James to France. Meanwhile, Robert of Fife informed Henry IV of the plan. The English forces intercepted the ship, and James was captured near Flamborough Head.
When Robert III learned of his son’s capture, he became even more depressed and refused to eat. He died a few days later on 4 April 1406. At his own request, Robert III was not buried with the other kings at Scone Abbey because he believed himself unworthy of this honor, describing himself as “the worst of kings and the most miserable of men.” Instead, Robert III was interred in nearby Paisley Abbey.