King Edward I “Longshanks” of England and the Scottish Rebels
A lot of us have seen Braveheart - a story about Mel Gibson with manboobs playing William Wallace, a scottish rebel and patriot who led a blue-faced army to freedom from the oppressive hands of King Edward I but the fact of the matter is, the Scots were totally asking for it. In 1286, Alexander III, king of Scotland, died without producing a male heir. This led to a crazy succession crisis and no one had any idea what to do, and there many competitors to the throne. Now, according to the law of primogeniture, John Balliol made a claim to the throne but another strong competitor, Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale claimed proximity in degree of kinship and was also widely recognized as the Tanist for the Scottish throne. These competing interests pushed Scotland to the brink of Civil War until they realized they didn’t want that to happen. So what did they do? They called on King Edward I to arbitrate. Now, being King of England, he of course wanted in on a piece of that Scottish action, and it’s crazy to believe that the Scots didn’t really expect him to make a claim to Scottish lands.
Edward I stepped in only on the condition that Scotland recognize their feudal dependency on England. After intense negotiations, the Scottish guardians gave Longshanks temporary overlord status on the condition that he give them back the lands back to the successful claimant of the throne within two months. This ranks perhaps the most idiotic condition that the Scottish ever imposed upon the king. Seriously. It’s like Superman making a deal with Lex Luthor, it’s stupid. To use a more historical example, it’s like Native Americans trusting treaties imposed on them by American frontiersmen. This is why the conundrum presented in Braveheart was one that was mostly self-induce. Life lesson here - when you’re having trouble in a dispute, don’t call for help from a clearly self-interested arbitrator. At least this isn’t as bad as what happened when Charles II of Spain died… but that’s a story for another day.
(check out Edward I pointing at the Scottish Guardiasn and how silly they were)