Alexander III (September 4, 1241 - March 19, 1286), king of Scots, also known as Alexander the Glorious ranks as one of Scotland's greatest kings.
Born at Roxburgh as the son of Alexander II by his second wife Mary de Coucy, he became king at the age of eight when his father died (6 July 1249). His coronation took place on July 13, 1249 at Scone Abbey, Perthshire.
The years of his minority featured an embittered struggle for the control of affairs between two rival parties, the one led by Walter Comyn, Earl of Menteith, the other by Alan Durward, the justiciar. The former dominated the early years of Alexander's reign. At the marriage of Alexander to Margaret of England in 1251, Henry III seized the opportunity to demand from his son-in-law homage for the Scottish kingdom, but Alexander did not comply. In 1255 an interview between the English and Scottish kings at Kelso led to Menteith and his party losing to Durward's party. But though disgraced, they still retained great influence, and two years later, seizing the person of the king, they compelled their rivals to consent to the erection of a regency representative of both parties.
On attaining his majority at the age of 21 in 1262, Alexander declared his intention of resuming the projects on the Western Isles which the death of his father thirteen years before had cut short. He laid a formal claim before the Norwegian king Haakon. Haakon rejected the claim, and in the following year responded with a formidable invasion. Sailing round the west coast of Scotland he halted off the Isle of Arran, and negotiations commenced. Alexander artfully prolonged the talks until the autumn storms should begin. At length Haakon, weary of delay, attacked, only to encounter a terrific storm which greatly damaged his ships. The battle of Largs (October 1263) proved indecisive, but even so, Haakon's position was hopeless. Baffled he turned homewards (5 October 1263), but died on the way. The Isles now lay at Alexander's feet, and in 1266 Haakon's successor concluded a treaty by which he ceded the Isle of Man and the Western Isles to Scotland in return for a money payment. Norway retained only Orkney and Shetland in the area.
Towards the end of Alexander's reign, the death of all three of his children within a few years made the question of the succession one of pressing importance. In 1284 he induced the Estates to recognize as his heir-presumptive his granddaughter Margaret, the "Maid of Norway". The need for a male heir led him to contract a second marriage to Yolande (or Joletta) of Dreux on November 1, 1285.
But the sudden death of the king dashed all such hopes. Alexander died in a fall from his horse in the dark while riding to visit the queen at Kinghorn in Fife on 16th or 19th of March 1286. His death ushered in a time of political upheaval for Scotland.