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The Dukes of Albany

Article from the 1911 Encyclopedia


ALBANY, DUKES OF. The territorial designation of Albany was formerly given to those parts of Scotland to the north of the firths of Clyde and Forth. The title of duke of Albany was first bestowed in 1398 by King Robert III. on his brother, Robert Stewart, ead of Fife (see I. below), but in 1425 it became extinct. The dukedom was re-created, r. 1458, in favour of Alexander Stewart, "lord of Annandale and earl of March," (see II. below), whose son and successor (see III. below) left no legitimate heir. The title of duke of Albany was next bestowed upon Henry Stuart, commonly known as Lord Darnley, by Mary, queen of Scots, in 1565. From him the title passed to his son, James VI. of Scotland and I. of England. The title was by him given, at his birth, to Charles, his second son, afterwards King Charles I. By Charles II. it was again bestowed, in 1660, on James, duke ot York, afterwards King James II. On the 5th of July 1716 Ernest Augustus, bishop of Osnaburgh [Osnabruck] (1715-1728), youngest brother of King George I., was created duke of York and Albany, the title becoming extinct on his death without heirs in 1728. On the 1st of April 1760 Prince Edward Augustus, younger brother of King George III., was created duke of York and Albany, he died without heirs on the 17th of September 1767. On the 29th of November 1784 the title of duke of York and Albany was again created in favour of Frederick, second son of George III., who died without heirs on the 5th of January 1827. The title of duke of Albany was bestowed on the 24th of May 1881 on Prince Leopold, youngest son of Queen Victoria (see IV. below).

I. ROBERT STEWART, duke of Albany (c. 1345-1420), regent of Scotland, was a son of King Robert II. by his mistress, Elizabeth Mure, and was legitimatized when his parents were married about 1349. In 1361 he married Margaret, countess of Menteith, and after his widowed sister-in-law, Isabel, countess of Fife, had recognized him as her heir, he was known as the earl of Fife and Menteith. Taking an active part in the government of the kingdom, the earl was made high chamberlain of Scotland in 1382, and gained military reputation by leading several plundering expeditions into England. In 1389 after his elder brother John, earl of Carrick, had been incapacitated by an accident, and when his father the king was old and infirm, he was chosen governor of Scotland by the estates, and he retained the control of affairs after his brother John became king as Robert III. in 1390. In April 1308 he was created duke of Albany, but in the following year his nephew David, duke of Rothesay, the heir to the crown, succeeded him as governor, although the duke himself was a prominent member of the advising council. Uncle and nephew soon differed, and in March 1402 the latter died in prison at Falkland. It is not certain that Albany was responsible for the imprisonment and death of Rothesay, whom the parliament declared to have died from natural causes, but the scanty evidence points in the direction of his guilt. Restored to the office of governor, the duke was chosen regent of the kingdom after the death of Robert III. in 1406, as the new king, James I., was a prisoner in London, and he took vigorous steps to prosecute the war with England, which had been renewed a few years before. He was unable, or as some say unwilling, to effect the release of his royal nephew, and was soon faced by a formidable revolt led by Donald Macdonald, second lord of the Isles, who claimed the earldom of Ross and was in alliance with Henry IV. of England, but the defeat of Donald at Harlaw near Aberdeen in July 1411 freed him from this danger. Continuing alternately to fight and to negotiate with England, the duke died at Stirling Castle in September 1420, and was buried in Dunfermline Abbey. Albany, who was the ablest prince of his house, left by his first wife one son, Murdac (or Murdoch) Stewart, who succeeded him as duke of Albany and regent, but at whose execution in 1425 the dukedom became extinct.

See Andrew of Wyntoun, The Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland, edited by D. Laing (Edinburgh, 1872-1879), John of Fordun, Scotichronicon, continued by Walter Bower, edited by T. Hearne (Oxford, 1722), and P. F. Tytler, History of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1850). See also Sir W. Scott's Fair Maid of Perth.

Continued on page two with Alexander Stewart.

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