John Comyn (Red Comyn)

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Comyn, John (d. 1303), known as the ‘Red Comyn’. A guardian (regent) of Scotland during the effective interregnum between Alexander III's death (1286) and John Balliol's accession (1292). Sometimes wrongly called the ‘Black Comyn’ by historians, he was in fact known to contemporaries as the ‘Red Comyn’, a title usually taken by the head of his family, the most influential baronial dynasty in 13th-cent. Scotland. He held the great Highland lordships of Badenoch and Lochaber, and estates in many other parts of Scotland. He helped to negotiate the treaty of Birgham and subsequently supported Balliol, his brother-in-law, as king of Scots. He submitted to Edward I in 1296, but had joined William Wallace by December 1297.

Keith J. Stringer

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Comyn, John (d. 1306), known as the ‘Red Comyn’. Son and heir of John Comyn, he was a leading Scottish patriot, despite appearances to the contrary—not least his murder by Robert Bruce, the future king. A devoted supporter of his uncle King John Balliol, he remained steadfastly loyal after Balliol's enforced abdication, and served from 1298 as a guardian or regent of Scotland in Balliol's name. Though he had established himself as the most powerful political figure in Scotland, he was unable to halt Edward I's massive campaign against the Scots in 1304, when he and other Scottish leaders had to submit. John's murder by Bruce and his companions in the Franciscan church, Dumfries, has been variously interpreted. Most likely, it was provoked by his refusal to desert Balliol and support Bruce's bid for the throne.

Keith J. Stringer