This Day in History: 1394-07-25

On 25th July 1394, James I of Scotland was born at Dunfermline Abbey, Fife. James had been sent to France for safety over fears about the succession to his father, Robert III, who died in 1406 (James’ elder brother, David, having starved to death in prison in 1402).Captured by pirates en route to France at Flamborough Head (some say off the coast of Norfolk) on 22nd March 1406 and handed over to Henry IV, James was held captive by the English for eighteen years in numerous locations until a ransom of £40,000 (£25.7 million in today’s money) and his marriage in February 1424 to Joan Beaufort (Joan a cousin of Henry VI and niece of Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter, and Cardinal Henry Beaufort), secured his release. James was crowned King of Scotland at Scone Abbey on 21st May 1424 (some say 2nd). James was held prisoner in Pontefract Castle and this seems to have been during the latter stages of his captivity in England around May-August (possibly even up to early December although James was in Durham during this month) 1423. At Pontefract, English and Scottish ambassadors agreed to his release in exchange for an Anglo-Scottish truce. James’ ransom of £40,000 sterling in ‘expenses’ (nearly £51 million in today’s money), to be paid off over six years, was set against the redemption of twenty noble hostages. Significantly, this was a deliberately generous reduction of the ransom first sought for James in 1416 and was far short of what had in fact been spent on his residency, wardrobe and retinue.