James III: Kingship and Contested Reputation

Alasdair A. Macdonald

in Kings, Lords and Men in Scotland and Britain, 1300–1625

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2014 | ISBN: 9780748691500
Published online September 2015 | e-ISBN: 9781474400848 | DOI:
James III: Kingship and Contested Reputation

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In the historiography of late-medieval Scotland, the outstanding reputation of James IV is secure. In part, this is due to this king’s own merits, but in part it is due to a deliberate depreciation of his father, James III. This depreciation, which began early, has continued into modern times, and stems in part from a failure to recognise the ‘Burgundian’ side to James III (inherited from his mother, who was a niece of Philip the Good); this led James to take a close interest in the possibility of succession to the Duchy of Gelderland. This chapter argues that at least some of the alleged failures and inadequacies of James III have been instrumentalised in the creation of the myth of his eldest son. It will be seen that, especially on the level of culture (including literature, religion, piety, architecture and music) there are many continuities between the two reigns, and that, when patterns of personal culture are considered, there is no disjuncture corresponding to the political caesura caused by the battle of Sauchieburn (1488). A proper appreciation of the ‘Burgundian moment’ in Scotland produces a significantly different (and better) view of both kings.

Keywords: James III; Burgundy; culture

Chapter.  8261 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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