Murdac Stewart, duke of Albany

(c. 1362—1392)

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B. c.1362, s. of Robert, duke of Albany, and Margaret, countess of Menteith; m. Isobel, da. of Duncan, earl of Lennox, 17 Feb. 1392; issue: Robert, Walter, Alexander, James, Isobel; d. Stirling, 25 May 1425; bur. Blackfriars church, Stirling.

Serving for a year as justiciar in 1389, soon after his father had become governor of Scotland, Murdac was captured at Homildon Hill (1402), delivered to Henry IV, and held at his court despite several negotiations for ransom and release. Henry V, on his accession, had him sent to the Tower for security, but Murdac was eventually released in exchange for Hotspur's son and a ransom of £10,000 (1416). He was heir presumptive, and succeeded to both dukedom and governorship in 1420, but lacked his father's political touch and popularity; under him, lawlessness grew apace, with his own sons amongst the worst offenders. Agreement was finally reached in London (1423) to secure the release of James I, who returned as ‘a king unleashed’. Reprisals did not materialize until 1425, probably because Murdac's half-brother John was still commander of the Scottish army in France, but the arrests of Murdac's eldest surviving son, Walter, and brother-in-law were soon followed by those of himself, his wife, son Alexander, and octogenarian father-in-law. At their trial on 24 May, before an assize of nobles at Stirling, conviction was aided by the youngest son's burning of the burgh of Dumbarton in protest. Walter was beheaded immediately, in front of Stirling castle; Murdac, Alexander, and the earl of Lennox met the same fate the following day.

Subjects: British History.

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