Category: Monarchs of Scotland

The monarchy of Scotland began in the early medieval period and continued until 1707 when Scotland united with England to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

World History Edu presents some key historical facts and figures about Scottish monarchs, including Macbeth and Mary, Queen of Scots.

Early Monarchs

The earliest Scottish kings ruled over the Kingdom of Alba. Kenneth MacAlpin, who reigned from around 843, is often considered the first king of a unified Scotland.


Contrary to Shakespeare’s portrayal, the historical Macbeth (reigned 1040-1057) was a competent and popular king. He did kill Duncan, but not as depicted in the play.

The Wars of Independence

The late 13th and early 14th centuries saw Scotland’s struggle for independence from England. Notable monarchs from this period include Robert the Bruce, who secured Scotland’s independence after the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

The Stewart (or Stuart) Dynasty

Beginning with Robert II in 1371, this dynasty would go on to rule Scotland for over 300 years. They would later also become monarchs of England.

Mary, Queen of Scots

One of the most famous Scottish monarchs, her reign (1542-1567) was marked by political intrigue, religious conflict, and personal scandal. She was executed by her cousin, Elizabeth I of England in 1587.

Union of the Crowns

In 1603, James VI of Scotland became James I of England, uniting the two crowns, though the countries remained distinct entities.

Act of Union

In 1707, the Act of Union was signed, merging the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. Queen Anne, who reigned from 1702-1714, was the first and last sovereign of the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Throughout its history, the Scottish monarchy was characterized by power struggles both within Scotland and with its southern neighbor, England. The monarchs played crucial roles in shaping the nation’s identity, its place in the British Isles, and its interactions with the wider world.

Death of Mary, Queen of Scots

Born to James V of Scotland and his second wife, Mary of Guise, Mary inherited the Scottish throne in December 1542. At the time of her ascension, she was just...