ALEXANDER III.—HOW THE LITTLE KING WAS CROWNED
Although Alexander II. 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 faithfully.
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
HOW THE LITTLE KING WAS CROWNED 87
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 Kings 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
Two years after he was crowned, the boy King was
married to the little Princess Margaret, daughter of the
King of England.
Alexander 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. Hun
dreds 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
But in the midst of all this splendour and feasting, the
King of England tried once again to make himself master
88 SCOTLAND’S STORY
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 nobles.’
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
The 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 he 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.
HOW THE LITTLE KING WAS MARRIED 89
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.
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