King Robert II of Scotland (2 March 1316 – 19 April 1390) was the first King of the House of Stewart to reign over Scotland.
He was born to Walter Stewart; ( 6th High Steward of Scotland) and Marjorie Bruce; (daughter of King Robert the Bruce). In 1317, he was made Heir presumptive after the death of his mother, but he would only be King if his grandfather, Robert the Bruce remained without a child. However, in 1324, Robert the Bruce had another child, named David.
Nonetheless, Robert II was put in control as the Guardian of Scotland, ruling in David’s stead after David was taken to France for safety reasons following repeated invasions by English-backed Edward Balliol in 1333. He reigned until 1341 when King David II returned to Scotland. However, David II of Scotland was captured by the English in a failed attack on England, while Robert fled and assumed control of Scotland once again.
Robert was highly suspicious of David’s family ties to the English. And by 1363, when the English gave a condition for David’s release which was to be the naming of the English prince John Of Gaunt as the heir presumptive, the Council of the Scots alongside Robert II rejected the condition. All were vehemently opposed to the idea of submission to English rule, but for Robert, it was more personal as that would mean giving up his right to the throne.
By 1371, King David II died a prisoner of the English without a child, and Robert II was set to be crowned King of Scotland. However, just before his coronation, Robert II faced armed opposition led by the Earl of Douglas whom historians believe brought allegations against Robert’s legitimacy as King. Notwithstanding, Robert II bought him off by giving his daughter away in marriage to Douglas’ son, as well as giving him a high position in power. Robert II was crowned King in 1371 at Scone Abbey, Perthshire.
In 1335, Robert II backtracked on an agreed monetary deal for the release of David, allying with the French to lead an attack against the English. This attack led to another bloody war (termed Burnt Candlemas) with the English, headed by King Edward III.
Robert had two wives; Elizabeth Mure, with whom he had 10 children, and Euphemia de Ross with whom he had 4 children. Following criticisms against the legitimacy of his first marriage, and subsequently the rights of his children, Robert II petitioned Pope Clement VI for a canon marriage to Elizabeth Mure, which ensured the legitimation of his four sons and six daughters. Over his lifetime, he had at least 21 children, 14 of them being legitimate.
King Robert II of Scotland had a completely different style of rule from David. He was not too involved in the affairs of governance, and delegated power to his sons and daughters in key positions across Scotland. His reign brought about stabilization of Scotland’s finances and general improvement, though he faced constant criticism from people who felt he was too weak to be king.
Following his failure to keep his infamous Son; Alexander, Earl of Buchanan, in check, the council stripped Robert II of his authority and appointed his eldest son; John, Earl of Carrick, to be Lieutenant of the country.
He died in 1390 and was buried at Scone Abbey. He was succeeded by his first son; John who took, after his name, and became Robert III of Scotland.