Yolande de Dreux lived from 1263 to 2 August 1330. She was briefly the second wife of King Alexander III of Scotland and served as Queen Consort of Scotland until Alexander's death on 19 March 1286. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Yolande de Dreux was the daughter of Robert IV, Count of Dreux, and Beatrice, Countess of Montfort. She was born at the family seat at the Chateau of Dreux, close to the border between Normandy and the Ile-de-France. This made her a member of the Capetian dynasty, the largest and oldest of the royal houses in Europe.
Alexander III of Scotland's first wife was Princess Margaret, daughter of Henry III of England. She had died in 1274 and their two sons had both died by early 1283. Alexander wanted a male heir, so he began a search for a suitable wife. On 14 October 1285 the 44 year old Alexander married 22 year old Yolande, by now Comtesse de Montfort, in a ceremony at Jedburgh Abbey.
Five months later, tragedy struck. On 19 March 1286, King Alexander III was returning on horseback to be with Yolande at Kinghorn Castle after meeting his Council in Edinburgh. It was after dark and the weather was very bad when he came along the cliff road above Pettycur, having ignored advice to travel the following morning. It is believed Alexander's horse stumbled, and pitched him to his death over the cliffs.
Alexander's death brought to an end a golden age in Scottish History and resulted in a crisis of succession that led directly to the Wars of Independence with England. But for his decision to take that path that night, none of us would ever have heard of William Wallace, Robert the Bruce or Bannockburn: and today's Scotland could be an utterly different place. Even after Alexander's death it could have all turned out so differently as it became clear that young Queen Yolande was pregnant. In the event her child was stillborn or miscarried.
In 1292 Yolande de Dreux remarried, this time to Arthur II, Duke of Brittany. They had six children together over the following decade. Arthur died in 1312, while Yolande lived until 1330.