Alexander Leslie, Earl of Ross - The Wolf of Badenoch

The Wolf of Badenoch

Later in 1382 his mother, now a wealthy widow, re-married, to Alexander Stewart (the "Wolf of Badenoch"), son of King Robert II of Scotland. The marriage significantly undermined the prospect of the young Alexander's inheritance. The marriage of 1382, supported by King Robert, saw the transfer of control of the mormaerdom or earldom of Ross and the associated barony of Kingedward to the east (the northern half of the defunct earldom of Buchan) from Euphemia's hand's into the hands of Alexander Stewart. Two days after the transfer, Alexander was made Earl of Buchan by the King.

Alexander received control of the earldom of Ross in liferent (i.e. for his lifetime), and any heirs to the marriage were entitled to inherit the lordships of Skye, Lewis and the thanages of Dingwall, Deskford and Glendowachy and other lands in other parts of Scotland which had been part of Euphemia's property.

Thus the young Alexander Leslie, even if he were to obtain the earldom eventually upon Stewart's death, was faced with a likelihood of being left with an earldom stripped of a large chunk of its most important assets. These actions by King Robert alienated the powerful Leslie-Lindsay kindred, a Lowland family who had entered the higher ranks of Scottish politics as favourites of King David II of Scotland. King Robert had also deprived this family of the exercise of the Justiciarship of Scotia. Later in 1382 (November), King Robert's chamberlain, son-in-law and favourite, John Lyon, thane (toiseach) of Glamis, was murdered by James Lindsay, lord of Crawford, head of the Leslie-Lindsay kindred and claimant to the lordship of Buchan. In 1384, Lindsay-Leslie and Douglas disaffection contributed to the coup by the king's son, John Stewart, earl of Carrick, who became Guardian (1384–88).

The Leslie-Lindsay kindred sought to protect Alexander Leslie's rights in Ross. However, this was difficult while Buchan remained in such a powerful position in the north. The guardianships of Carrick and then of Carrick's brother Robert Stewart, earl of Fife and Menteith (1388–93) were both supported by the Leslie-Lindsay kindred and both aimed against Buchan's power. Moreover, Buchan's nominal wife, Euphemia, herself came into the Leslie-Lindsay camp. In 1389, Euphemia, the countess of Ross, complained to the Pope that her marriage to Buchan was meaningless, as the latter was in fact more often with his mistress, Mairead inghean Eachann. Pope Clement V annulled the marriage in late 1392, and ordered the restoration of her lands. With the firm support of the Fife guardianship, Euphemia and her son were able to re-establish their power in Ross. By the year 1394, Buchan's power in Ross seems to have disappeared and Countess Euphemia was once again granting charters from Dingwall Castle.

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