Archibald Douglas (1370-1424)

Relation to me: 18th Great Grandfather

Archibald was the Duke of Touraine, Earl of Wigtown, Lord of Annandale, Lord of Galloway, Lord of Bothwell and the 13th Lord of Douglas. He was thus a Scottish nobleman and warlord. At times Archibald was given the nickname of Tyneman, which in the old Scottish language means loser. This may have been in reference to his great uncle Sir Archibald Douglas as well.

The Early Years

Archibald was the illegitimate son of Archibald Douglas and Joanna de Moravia of


Threave Castle


Bothwell. He was either born at Threave Castle or Bothwell Castle. Until Archibald’s accession he was known as Master of Douglas. In 1390, when he was twenty years old he married Princess Margaret of Carrick. Margaret was the daughter of King Robert III of Scotland. It was at about this time that his father had bestowed upon him regalities of Ettrick Forest, Lauderdale and Romannobridge and Peeblesshire. Then on June 4, 1400 at the age of thirty, the King of Scotland, Robert, had appointed Archibald the keeper of Edinburgh Castle for the remainder of his life, with a pension of two hundred marks a year.


Bothwell Castle


Renewal of Percy vs. Douglas

In 1400, at Candlemas, the Earl of March, George I, and Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy had entered Scotland lying waste as far as Papple in East Lothian. The villages of Traprain, Markle and Hailes were burned to the ground and two unsuccessful attempts were made at Hailes Castle. Now the Master of Douglas, who had also held the office of Lord Warden of the Marches, surprised them by night at their camp near East Linton and would then defeat the English Force. Archibald had managed to chase his enemy as far as Berwick upon Tweed, slaughtering any stragglers in the woods close to Cockburnspath.

The Siege of Edinburgh

Later on that year, in summer, Archibald would be made second in command to David Stewart, the Duke of Rothesay who was Lieutenant of the Kingdom, during the siege of Edinburgh Castle by Henry IV. Henry would be unsuccessful in his endeavors. With Owain Glyndwr’s rebellion gathering in Wales he would become the last English monarch that would ever invade Scotland in person.

Archibald’s father died later on that year at Christmas. Before his passing, he held vast lordships that stretched from Galloway, Douglasdale, Moray, and Clydesdale to the shires of Stirling and Selkirk. He also was lord over the forfeited lands of the Earl of Dunbar in Lothian and the Merse.

Two years later, Archibald’s brother-in-law and heir to the throne, David Stewart, the Duke of Rothesay, was held captive. He was first held at Bishop’s Palace at St. Andrews, then at the Royal Palace of Falkland. While here, Duke David would pass away on the 27th of March. It has been alleged that he had died under mysterious circumstances. He was only twenty-four and had been in good health prior to his passing. Rumors were started saying that he David had been starved to death in the Falkland’s pit prison. Prince David was also arrested under a warrant that had been issued in the name of his father, by his uncle, Robert Stewart, the Duke of Albany, and Douglas. Both Albany and Douglas were rumored to have been the authors of any foul play that was suspected. This can be shown by the fact that both of the men were summoned to appear before Parliament.

On the 16th of March both of the men were acquitted when Parliament had passed an act that stated that the Prince had “departed this life through Divine Providence, and not otherwise”. This would clear both of the men from High Treason and any other crime. Any of the king’s subjects were strictly forbid to make the slightest imputation on their fame. This action could be considered to be a whitewash, as the Kingdom of Scotland couldn’t afford to lose its two most powerful men due to the renewed English hostility. Archibald and Albany were considered to be the only fit antidote to the traitor Earl of March and his English allies.

Homildon Hill

On the 22nd of June 1402, a small Scottish force would be beaten by George Dunbar, the Earl of March’s son, at the Battle of Nesbit Moor. Archibald would lead a raid with Murdoch of Fife, Albany’s son, as far as Newcastle to avenge this battle. At the head of 10,000 men, Archibald, and his men would lay waste to all of Northumberland.

George Dunbar would persuade Henry Percy, the 1st Earl of Northumberland, and his son Harry “Hotspur” Percy to lie in wait for the returning Scots at Wooler. Once Archibald’s men had made their camp at Millfield, which was relatively low ground, the English would rush them. The Scots, however, had keen sentries and the army was able to retreat to the higher ground of Homildon Hill.


Homildon Hill memorial marker today


At Homildon Hill they organized themselves in the traditional Schiltron formations. Archibald didn’t learn any lessons from his great uncle’s Battle at Halidon Hill seventy years before. The Schiltrons had presented a large target for the English long bowmen, and the formations began to break. A hundred men, under Sir John Swinton of the Swintons of that Ilk, had decided to charge the enemy saying “Better to die in the mellay than be shot down like deer”. All would die.


Schiltron Formation represented in the movie Braveheart


It has been suggested that Archibald had hesitated to signal the advance of his main force, but when he did, it was too little too late. Archibald’s mauled army would meet with the, as yet unbloodied, English men at arms and were routed. Many of his leading captains would be captured, including his kinsman George Douglas, the 1st Earl of Angus, Thomas Dunbar, the 5th Earl of Moray, and Murdoch of Fife. Archibald himself would be captured as well, after he was wounded five times, including the lose of his eye.

If the Percys and other English knights had thought that they had gained great immediate riches from their ransoms, they were to be disappointed. They would receive a message from King Henry congratulating them for their victory but forbidding the release of any of their prisoners.

In 1403, Henry Hotspur was in an open rebellion against the king and joined his kinsman, Thomas Percy, the Earl of Worcester, while Owain Glyndwry was undertaking a campaign against the English rule in Wales. Hotspur would set free his Scottish captives and Archibald, with his co-prisoners, decided to fight alongside their former captors. In the chivalric spirit of the time, Archibald marched with his former enemy, Hotspur, and his forces to meet with King Henry IV at the Battle of Shrewsbury. The result of this battle of a decisive Royalist victory. Henry Hotspur would be killed by an arrow through his mouth. Archibald was, yet again, captured. This time he would suffer from a loss of a testicle, after he had fought gallantly on the field and personally had killed Edmund Stafford, the 5th Earl of Stafford and Sir Walter Blount.

Prisoner of King Henry

Archibald was now a captive of King Henry IV. The cost for the ransom of the Scot nobles that were taken at Homildon would prove to be difficult for the impoverished Scottish exchequer. When Prince James of Scotland was also captured while en route to France by some English pirates in 1406, the position would seem to be impossible.

The aged King Robert III would die of his grief not long after. The Kingdom of the Scots was now in the hands of the Duke of Albany de jure, as well as de facto.


King Henry IV


After giving an oath on the Holy Scripture to King Henry to be his man above all others, except for King James, and on the production of suitable hostages for his parole, Archibald was allowed to return to his estates to carry out his private affairs. He would agree, again under oath, to return to captivity in England on an appointed day.

At Easter, Archibald went north and hadn’t returned on his aforesaid day. King Henry wrote to his regent, Albany, complaining of this “un-knightly” behavior and had warned him that, unless Archibald would return the other hostages would be dealt with at his pleasure. Archibald still did not return. After a payment of 700 merks in 1413 to the King of England, Henry V, the hostages were released.

Political Machinations

In 1412, Archibald would go to Flanders and then to France. After he had arrived in Paris he would start negotiations with John ‘The Fearless’, Duke of Burgundy. They would end up agreeing to a mutual defense and offense pact in their respective countries.

Archibald had also resumed his duties as the Lord Warden of the Marches not long after returning to Scotland. While at the border he had free reign to defend it and to keep the peace. However, it appears that Albany wasn’t prepared to do this. Archibald would recover his costs from his customs fees on all trade goods that were entering the country.

Then in 1416, while King James was still a hostage in England, Archibald had visited London twice to enter negotiations for his release. While he was there the Lollard faction, during Henry V’s absence in France, had tried to persuade the Scottish delegates to go on an offensive. Albany decided this to be the opportune moment to reclaim Berwick-upon-Tweed. He gathered an army to take it and then despatched Archibald to Roxburgh Castle, which was also held by the English.

When the Scots had learned of the huge army that was led by King Henry’s brother, John of Lancaster, the 1st Duke of Bedford, and Thomas Beaufort, the Duke of Exeter, they decided to retreat. Following their devastation in Teviotdale and Liddesdale, and the burning of the towns of Selkirk, Jedburgh and Hawick, the raid was known as the “Foul Raid”.

The Great Scottish Army

Archibald’s son, the Earl of Wigtoun, were fighting in France along with his son-in-law, Buchan, They were able to inflict a heavy defeat over the English at the Battle of Bauge in 1421.

Two years later, 1423, Wigtoun and Buchan had arrived back in Scotland to gather more troops for the war effort. With a personal request to Archibald, Charles VII of France asked for his aid. Archibald’s ally and King Charles were an implacable enemy. John ‘the Fearless’ of Burgundy, had died in 1419 and Archibald was willing consented to the French king. After a considerable amount of gifts to the church, Archibald left his son, the Earl of Wigtoun in Scotland. Wigtoun would then be charged with the care of his estates and the negotiations for the release of King James, while Archibald prepared for war. On the 7th of March of 1424, Archibald and Buchan sailed into La Rochelle with about 6,500 men.

On the 24th of April, Charles VII reviewed his new troops at Bourges. Archibald was given the post of Lieutenant-General in the waging war through all of the Kingdom of France. Four days later, Archibald was granted the Duchy of Touraine. This would include the castle, town and city of Tours and the castle and town of Loches. He was the first foreigner and first non-royal to be granted Ducal status in France.

On the 17th of August 1424, Archibald was defeated and slain at Verneuil, along with his second son, James and son-in-law, John Stewart, the 2nd Earl of Buchan. Archibald would be buried in the choir of Tours Cathedral alongside his son Sir James Douglas.


Tours Cathedral



2 thoughts on “Archibald Douglas (1370-1424)”

  1. This is a very interesting and turbulent period in British history. When I studied at school, we had to read Henry IV parts one and two by Shakespeare. I became interested in Harry Hotspur, and later visited the north-east of England to see the castle at Alnwick, and others in the area. Thanks for adding more to the story.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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