SSA Gallery

The Society of Scottish Armigers
Home > WA Hundred Years War 1337-1453
Click to view full size image
04. Archibald the Grim
Archibald Douglas, “The Grim”

Hundred Years War Participant

Early arms perhaps used at the battle of Poitiers on 19 Sep 1356 as a young man fighting for France under William Douglas honouring the Auld Alliance

Arms: Ermine a man’s heart Gules on a chief Azure three stars Argent

SOURCE/NOTES & CREDITS: The source for the blazon is the background illustration
from page 168, column 4, 5th down, shield 58. “Creating Miniature Knights”, by Greenhill & Venturi, Scramasax, 2005, Firenze. This in turn is based from the Gelre folio 64, verso “Syr Archibaut”, per private communication with Peter Greenhill, Esq. Text by D.Q. Wedvick adapted from, “The Scots Peerage”, Volume III, 1906, pages 132-185, edited by Sir James Balfour Paul, then Lord Lyon, Peter Greenhill, Esq. and internet sources.

Lord Archibald Douglas, 3rd Earl of Douglas and Lord of Galloway c1328-1400. also known as “Archibald the Grim”, was the illegitimate son of Sir James Douglas, Lord of Douglas ( the “Good Sir James” who took the heart of The Bruce intending to go the Holy Land but was killed in Spain.) In 1342 an entail was created intending to benefit its maker, Sir William Douglas of Lothian which included, Archibald the Grim as an heir. The entail failed in its original purpose but 46 years later became the foundation for Archibald’s successful claim to be the 3rd Earl of Douglas.

From 1342 thru the next decade he followed in the train of William Douglas, Lord of Douglas ( the 1st Earl of Douglas ). Believed to be a part of the Lord of Douglas’s force of 3000 who went to France in support of King John II, “the Good “, Archibald made a name for himself with his sterling service with a great long shafted battle axe and for the wearing of a black eye patch as a chivalric affectation…. He was actually captured by the English at the battle of Poitiers on 19 September 1356, but was saved by William Ramsay of Colluthy who said “Your man was an esquire impersonating his master”, for which he rebuked him with a cuff around his ear and paid forty shillings for him.

After his return to Scotland from Poitiers he was caught and detained by the English in 1357 and released with David II. These two became friends and he was knighted. Sir Archibald became Sheriff of Edinburgh and keeper of Edinburgh Castle. The king was influential in his marriage to Joanna Murray, a wealthy widow and heiress who brought him many estates. In 1364 he was named Warden of the West March. In 1369 in view of his success there, the King made him Lord of Galloway. Sir Archibald build a massive towerhouse at Threave. His associate in the Borders was Sir James Douglas of Dalkeith. It is said David patronized these two as rivals to Sir William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas.

But in 1384 Sir Archibald, George Dunbar, Earl of March, and William Douglas, Earl of Douglas, cooperated to take the castle of Lochmaben effectively depriving the English of their last stronghold in southwest Scotland.

William, Earl of Douglas, died in 1384 and was succeeded by his son, James Douglas as 2nd Earl of Douglas. But James, who was energetic, was killed at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388 which opened the door for Archibald the Grim to go after the Earldom with both possession of key estates, success in raids and legal means ( the entail of Sir William Douglas of Lothian of 1342 ) the Lord of Galloway was recognized as the 3rd Earl of Douglas formally in 1389.

He had become one of the most influential and powerful of border lords and head of the then foremost magnatic family after the royal family in 14th century Scotland. He even managed to die in his bed at his Bothwell Castle on Christmas Eve 1400 and was buried at Threave.

We have shown his simple arms as Archibald Douglas which he might well have used at Poitiers. He later added the arms of his Lordship of Galloway: Azure a Lion Rampant Argent. And later as 3rd Earl he marshaled them 1st & 4th Douglas, 2nd & 3rd Galloway and surtout Azure three stars Or for Murray of Bothwell. ( BGA page 294, column 2, 3rd entry down. ). His grandson, John Douglas of Balvenie, executed in 1463, used the simple “Ermine” Douglas arms according to Bruce A. McAndrew in his “Scotland’s Historic Heraldry”, Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2006, page 204. Dqw 20100221

The artwork is a rendering by John Hamilton Gaylor.

dqw 2018 0530
Chandos.jpg Grailly_01.jpg DouglasArch_2332~0.jpg Artois2~0.jpg Chatillon3.jpg
Rate this file (current rating : 0 / 5 with 1 votes)