"Whatever the world admires in a prince." Robert Stewart, duke of Albany: Power, Politics, and Family in Late Medieval Scotland




Devlin, Shayna

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University of Guelph


Robert Stewart, duke of Albany (1340-1420), was the second surviving son of Robert II of Scotland. Over the course of his career, he served many roles in the Scottish government including Governor of Scotland for his absent nephew James I. Albany is famous in Scottish historiography for the murder of his nephew and heir to the throne, David, duke of Rothesay. Chroniclers and historians from the late fifteenth century until today have ascribed to Albany a nefarious royal ambition. This devious ambition supposedly led him to stage coups against his father, Robert II, and brother, Robert III, to seize power in Scotland. Undoubtedly Albany was a deeply ambitious man. However, not much consideration has been given to the idea that Albany, in his governmental roles and as regent for three kings, was not acting on a deeply held desire to sit on the Scottish throne. Rather, Albany’s role in governance is an example of medieval corporate monarchy wherein the entire royal family assisted the reigning monarch in ruling the kingdom. The structure of corporate monarchy has been used previously to examine queens and the role of women in the institution of monarchy. By applying this structure to a male member of the royal family, this dissertation seeks to place Albany in the wider European context of regency in the late medieval period. By examining how Albany fulfilled the roles and duties of kingship for two adult monarchs and a third absentee monarch, this dissertation seeks to uncover how Albany performed essential roles of governance within the parameters of a corporate monarchy. To succeed in his role, Albany cultivated a royal identity and presented himself as the highest royal authority in Scotland. Through the examination of Albany’s governmental roles, his relationship with the nobility of Scotland, his presentation of himself as a prince of Scotland, and his interactions with the institution of the church, this dissertation firmly places Albany in the wider European context of rulership in late medieval Europe and demonstrates how Albany was integral to the daily governance of Scotland, and to the survival of the early Stewart dynasty.



Medieval Scotland, Duke of Albany, Monarchy, Power, Family Politics, Robert Stewart, Stewart Dynasty, Second Son, Robert II, Robert III, James I