Mar, John Stewart, earl of

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Mar, John Stewart, earl of [S] (c.1459–80). Fourth son of James II, created earl of Mar 1459. Although a royal brother, Mar took almost no part in the affairs of state, and little is known of his life apart from his execution, by early 1480, and subsequent forfeiture. A contemporary explanation of Mar's execution as punishment for association with witches and warlocks may be the result of royal propaganda following an execution that seems to have had little provocation. It is most likely that he was executed covertly to avoid parliamentary opposition, and for little reason apart from James III's paranoia, possible opposition to the king's indictment of Alexander Stewart, duke of Albany, in October 1479, and fear of a new focus for extensive dissatisfaction. Mar's death is prominently, and often luridly, described in later chronicles, and was probably exploited by the 1488 rebels as part justification for their actions.

Roland Tanner