On this day: October 16

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On this day 585-years-ago, King James II was born. Crowned at just 6-years-old, he had a horrific childhood at the hands of scheming nobles and regents. By the age of 19, James took control of the country himself and married Mary of Gueldres, from a rich family in Flanders.

The royal couple had several healthy children, and it was doubtless partly her influence that led to his strength in dealing with the many troublesome nobles, especially a long-running bloody battle with the powerful Douglas family.

James made many sound political moves, creating alliances, and ruthlessly dealing with those who opposed him, as was necessary to rule effectively. However, James’s interest in artillery ultimately led to his early demise, as he was killed aged only 30 at a siege when a cannon exploded.