The Great Cause and Edward’s choice

The Great Cause is the name given to the time when Edward was deciding who had the best claim to the throne of Scotland.

In November 1292 Edward I decided that John Balliol had the strongest claim to the throne and therefore would become King of Scotland.

Edward I chose John Balliol as the King of Scotland for a number of reasons:

  • Edward had an understanding of the law and made his judgement by considering the laws of inheritance. The law of primogeniture stated that inheritance passed down the line of the first born in the family.
  • John Balliol was the grandson of David, Earl of Huntingdon’s eldest daughter, whose family line was connected to that of Alexander III.
  • Robert Bruce was a descendant of David, Earl of Huntingdon's second daughter. Hence, Balliol was first in line to the throne, before Bruce.

The family tree below shows why John Balliol was chosen as King of Scotland.

The Family Tree of Robert the Bruce

John Balliol crowned King

John Balliol was crowned King of Scotland at Scone Palace, on 30 November 1292. However there were a number of reasons why John Balliol would have a difficult time ruling Scotland:

  • Robert Bruce and the other Competitors would have been disappointed. Many were from noble families who were rivals of the Balliols.
  • Many Scottish nobles did not like the Balliol family.
  • John Balliol had already accepted Edward I as his overlord.
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