King Robert II

King Robert the Second ascended to the throne of Scotland on 22 February 1371 and was crowned at Scone Abbey on 26 March 1371. He was the first of the Stewart dynasty.

He was aged fifty-four at the time and his life and journey to the throne was eventful. His story began in Renfrewshire where he was born and there are several versions of the story surrounding the circumstances of his birth. His father was Walter Stewart the sixth High Steward of Scotland and his mother was Marjorie the daughter of Robert the Bruce.

Robert Stewart was born in Paisley on 2 March 1316. At the time of his birth, the Stewart family had been associated with service to Scottish royalty for generations holding the hereditary title of High Steward of Scotland, with a family castle stronghold in Renfrew. Paisley Abbey at this period had many functions and the Stewart family over the generations had supported the Abbey as well as the order of Cluniac monks based there. The family considered the Abbey as their family church. One story of Robert’s birth is that Marjorie who was heavily pregnant was thrown from her horse on the route between Renfrew and Paisley. The site where this accident may have occurred is today marked by a large stone cairn in Gallowhill. Marjorie so the story goes was taken to the care of the monks at Paisley Abbey where she gave birth to her son. Marjorie died in childbirth.

The tragic loss of Marjorie made the infant Robert Stewart the heir presumptive for his grandfather Robert the Bruce who became the Scottish king in 1318, taking the title Robert the first. In 1324 King Robert the first and his second wife Elizabeth de Burgh had a son together called David. Robert Stewart now became the heir apparent of David. King Robert the first died in 1329 and his young son ascended to the throne becoming King David the second. Robert Stewart was therefore the subject of much dynastic manoeuvring at an early age. Further at the age of ten his father died, and he succeeded to the hereditary title of High Steward of Scotland becoming the seventh in his family to hold this office.

Scotland at this time was riven by continued war with England as well as family feuds among the Scottish nobility. The country faced a volatile period of unrest and over the course of the long reign of David the second, Robert Stewart as heir apparent was party to all of this. During his life Robert Stewart married twice: to Elizabeth Mure in 1336 (by whom he had ten children) and then to Euphemia de Ross in 1355 (by whom he had four children). He was also known to have had several illegitimate children.

David the second died in 1371 and Robert Stewart finally ascended to the throne of Scotland.  He had waited a long time and events had carried him a long way from his birthplace in Paisley. He did not forget his Renfrewshire ancestry however and in 1379 he commissioned a memorial tomb to be built at Paisley Abbey to honour his mother and father. He died on 19 April 1390 at Dundonald Castle in Ayrshire. He was succeeded by his son John who took the name of King Robert the third.

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