Name: John Comyn
Birth: 1240 in Buchan, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Death: 1313 1
Occupation: BET 1289 AND 1313 3rd Earl of Buchan 1
He was a Scottish nobleman and an important opponent of King Robert I of S cotland in the civil war that paralleled the War of Scottish Independenc e. He should not be confused with the better known John III Comyn, Lo rd of Badenoch, who was his cousin, and who was killed by Bruce in Dumfri es in 1306. Buchan was the representative of a family that had long domina ted the politics of Scotland. His ultimate defeat by Bruce entailed a sign ificant-and lasting-shift in the balance of power, especially in the nor th of Scotland, the Comyn heartland.
The Comyns, a family of Norman origin, first made their appearance in Scot land during the reign of David I. In 1136 William Cumin, who had former ly been in the service of Henry I of England, became Chancellor of Scotlan d. William Cumin was part of a new class of foreigners whose power and sta tus in Scotland was entirely dependent on their service to the king, and w ere to be used by David and his successors in extending royal authori ty to the semi-independent fringes of the kingdom. The Comyns first gran ts of land were in the south of Scotland; but in 1212 they made their mo st significant advance when William Comyn, Justiciar of Scotia, married Ma rjorie, the only child and heir of Fergus, the "earl" or mormaer of Bucha n, a lordship encompassing a large area in the north-east of Scotland. Wh en their son Alexander succeeded them, the Comyns became the first fami ly of Norman origin to acquire comital status in Scotland, gaining more th an a head start on the Bruces, also of Norman-French origin, who did not a cquire the earldom of Carrick until the later thirteenth century. Willi am also advanced Comyn power by acquiring for his son, Walter Comyn, the s outhern section of the old earldom of Moray, the Lordship of Badenoch, whi ch also included the more westerly district of Lochaber. By the midd le of the thirteenth century Comyn power thus extended from the shor es of Aberdeenshire westwards all the way to Loch Linnhe. The family w as a force of growing importance through the successive reigns of Alexand er II and Alexander III; but they might be said to have reached the heigh ts of their power and influence during the reign of John Balliol.
In 1290 Margaret, the Maid of Norway, the last descendant of the Canmore d ynasty died, leaving the Scottish throne with no clear successor. In the e nd thirteen Competitors came forward, the most important of whom were Robe rt Bruce of Annandale, grandfather of the future king, and John Balliol. A lthough John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, sometimes known as the Black Comy n, was one of the minor competitors, the weight of the family was behind t he claim of Balliol, Badenoch's brother-in-law. Following the intervenati on of Edward I, Balliol finally emerged in 1292 as the strongest claima nt in terms of feudal law, though the Bruce family was not reconciled to t his outcome. Ever since the death of Alexander III in 1286 the Lord of Ann andale had shown himself prepared, if necessary, to resort to violen ce in pursuit of his claim. But any successful future bid for the crown co uld only proceed with the co-operaation, or by the destruction, of the hou se of Comyn. By 1292 the great division which was to dominate Scottish pol itics on and off for over fifty years had taken definite shape.
John Comyn became third earl of Buchan following the death of his fathe r, Alexander, in 1289. Some thirty years of age at the time he was quick ly thrust to the front in the great political contests of the day. He w as prominent in John Balliol's administration, emerging as Constable of Sc otland by 1293. He was one of those summoned by Edward I, in his capaci ty as the Feudal overlord of Scotland, to serve in the wars in France. Th is was clearly no welcome development; and when King John effectively cav ed in to the demands of the English king for Scottish participation in t he war he was put 'in ward' by Buchan and others, who took the manageme nt of the kingdom into their own lands. The new government concluded an al liance with France and prepared for war with England. In virtually the fir st act of that war Buchan, along with his cousin, John, the Red Comyn, s on of the Black Comyn and nephew of King John, led an attack on Carlisl e, which happened to be under the command of Robert Bruce, Earl of Carric k, son of the Competitor. Thus it might be said that what was to become t he War of Scottish Independence opened with a clash between the Comyns a nd the Bruces.
The attack on Carlisle was a failure; so too was the whole Scottish campai gn of 1296. Edward, having knocked out the main Scottish host at the Batt le of Dunbar, moved north in rapid stages. Buchan and King John surrender ed at Montrose in July, along with other leading Scottish nobles. The hapl ess John was stripped of the symbols of majesty and power and taken sou th to the Tower of London. Buchan did not fare too badly, simply being com pelled for a time to take up residence in England south of the River Tren t. In June 1297 he promised to serve in the army against France, though Ed ward was soon to find a more pressing occasion for his services. That sa me year Scotland was engulfed in a widspread rebellion, led by William Wal lace in the south of the country and Andrew Moray in the north. Moray's ri sing was of particular interest-and concern-to Buchan because it touch ed on the borders of his own estates. It was with the intention of bringi ng Moray under control that Edward finally sent Buchan homewards in July.
Father: *Alexander Comyn b: ABT 1217 in Buchan, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Mother: *Elizabeth De Quincy b: 1220 in Winchester, Hampshire, England
Isabella of Fife
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