John Balliol and his staff

The Tower of London has imprisoned several monarchs, and one of the first was John Balliol, who became King of Scotland in 1292. 

Whilst the Scottish and English Kings and Queens had lived peacefully side by side, Balliol and his Scottish noblemen were not always loyal to the English. 

They were angry about laws made to tax and control them, and some of the nobles even made alliances with the French, who were sworn enemies of the English at that time.

This betrayal was too much for King Edward of England.  He decided to take action and invade Scotland.  

On 12th March 1296 the English troops invaded Berwick, a Scottish town.  After a bloody battle the Scottish refused to surrender and so the troops ransacked the remaining population and John Balliol was captured and stripped of his Royal Badge. 

He became a prisoner of the Tower but because he had been a King, he was permitted to bring a large amount of staff.

These included:

  • Lord William de Froxfelde, his chaplain
  • Richard, his pantler
  • Henry, his butler
  • John Clyware and Gantroni, his treasurers
  • Henry, the clerk of the chaplain
  • Peter, his barber
  • Adam, his tailor (a second tailor named Robert also appears later)
  • Three grooms
  • Two esquires
  • A carter
  • A miller
  • A cook and a porter
  • A laundress
  • An officer of the saucery
  • A hunter and his page
  • Two greyhounds
  • Ten running dogs
  • At least two horses (his own palfrey and one horse belonging to Alexander de Balliol ‘who at present has rebelled’!)

Although his treatment seems like luxury compared to many of the poor prisoners, it would not have felt particularly luxurious to a King who was used to his own palaces, and who answered to no one.

After his release he was able to live out his days in France.