Then & Now: King's ransom

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The Independent Online
28 May, 1469: King Christian mortgaged his royal rights in Shetland, which had been under Norse control for six centuries, to James III of Scotland as part of the dowry of his bride, King Christian's daughter:

'Christian, by the grace of God King of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Slavs and the Goths, Duke of Sleswig and Count of Holstein, Stormarn, Oldenburgh and Dalmenhorst, to all and sundry who shall see our present letters, greeting and royal good wishes for increasing prosperity.

Since in our other letters . . . to the ambassadors of the most excellent prince James, King of Scots, we promised and undertook that we would fully pay the sum of ten thousand florins of the Rhine, and give effectual satisfaction thereon in counted money before their return to the kingdom of Scotland from our kingdom of Denmark; but because, hindered by the insults of our enemies and rebels and by other unlooked for events, we are unable conveniently to pay from our exchequer the foresaid sum as laid down within the limit agreed with the said spokesmen: therefore, . . . we have granted, pledged and mortgaged . . . our lands of the islands of Shetland . . . (to) the most excellent prince James, King of Scots, our beloved son and ally and by his successors, kings of Scots whomsoever; until the foresaid sum of eight thousand florins (sic) of the Rhine outstanding in the aforementioned letters has been faithfully, fully and completely paid in the Church of St Magnus in Orkney whensoever in future.'

7 January, 1992: Emergency plans were drawn up to evacuate up to 3,000 Shetlanders after the oil tanker Braer crashed against rocks, disgorging thousands of tons of oil.

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