The ‘Treaty of Falaise’ was signed on the 8th of December, 1174.
Malcolm was a maiden, but his younger brother Wullie, who succeeded him, was a lion. In contrast to Malcolm IV, his deeply religious, frail brother, William I was powerfully built, redheaded and headstrong. He was known as Uilliam Garbh (William ‘the Rough’) and was an effective monarch whose reign was the second to only James VI in terms of longevity, prior to the 1707 Act of Union. William reigned for nearly fifty years, which was a prodigious length of time by any standards and unheard of in those violent days. He is credited with adopting the red ‘Lion Rampant’ on a yellow background as the Royal Emblem of Scotland under the ‘laws of heraldry’, hence his subsequent nickname, coined by the chronicler Fordun, of ‘William the Lion of Justice’. William I faced the usual grief from south of the border in that period of the early Middle Ages. Mostly, it was dealt out by Henry II and William’s successes at home were marred by his ill-fated attempts to regain control of Northumbria from Henry and the Normans.
William, son of Henry of Scotland, Earl of Huntingdon and Northumberland, and grandson of David I, was born in Stirling, in 1143. Northumberland had been given to David I in 1149 by King Stephen of England and William succeeded his father as Earl in 1152. However, in 1157, the Plantagenet King Henry II succeeded in getting back Northumberland by threat of force. Malcolm IV put up no opposition and William had his Earldom surrendered on his behalf by his brother. Following his brother’s death on the 9th of December, 1165, William was crowned King of Scots at Scone on the 24th of December. At the time, although Henry II recognised his succession to the Earldom of Huntingdon, he refused to grant William that of Northumberland.
In 1166, William went to Normandy with Henry II and in 1170, he spent Easter at Windsor as a guest of the English King. However, he wanted Northumberland back and he didn’t trust Henry, despite the seeming friendship. As a precaution, in 1168, William had sealed an alliance with Louis VII of France that subsequently came to be known as ‘The Auld Alliance’, a mutual defence agreement between Scotland and France. Eric of Norway was also a party to that original agreement. Things came to a head in 1173, when three of the sons of Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, led a revolt against him. In return for the promise of Northumberland, William agreed to intervene.
William invaded Northumberland in 1173 and advanced on Newcastle, but unwilling to undertake a lengthy siege of the partly built stone castle, he returned to Scotland. The following year, he launched a grand invasion of England at a time when Henry II was involved in France. In 1174, he had a large army that included a contingent of Flemish mercenaries and, having avoided Newcastle and given up on Prudhoe Castle after a siege of three days, he moved north to besiege Alnwick. William divided his army into three columns and one of these, under the command of Duncan, Earl of Fife, attacked Warkworth and set fire to the church of St Lawrence. The partisan English chroniclers were happy to record that there were a large number of refugees inside.
The distribution of his army was William’s mistake as in the dawn mist of the 12th of July, 1174, he was surprised in his encampment by a party of about four hundred mounted knights, led by Ranulf de Glanvill. William had a bodyguard of perhaps just sixty fighting men, but at the sound of the alarm, he rushed from his tent and prepared to fight. The English force charged and William fearlessly met the charge head on, shouting “Now we shall see which of us are good Knights!” The Battle of Alnwick did not last long as William was unhorsed and captured, and his army dispersed. William was taken first to Newcastle, with his feet tied beneath his horse, then to Northampton, and finally transferred to meet Henry II in Falaise, in Normandy.
Henry confiscated William’s Earldom of Huntingdon and sent an army of occupation to Scotland. English troops were stationed at the five strongest castles: Roxburgh, Berwick, Jedburgh, Edinburgh and Stirling. William then spent five months as a prisoner, whilst an English army plundered the south of Scotland as far as Edinburgh. Henry II next forced William I to sign the ‘Treaty of Falaise’, which he did on the 8th of December, 1174. Through that humiliating document, Scotland was made a feudal possession of its neighbour and not only did William have to acknowledge Henry as his feudal superior, the Scots had to pay taxes to cover the cost of the English army’s occupation. In addition, the Scottish Church was placed under the jurisdiction of the English Primate. William was then released and allowed to return to Scotland, but it wasn’t until 1175 at York Castle, after Henry II had returned from Normandy, that William swore fealty.
Henry II restored William to the Earldom of Huntingdon in 1185, but he immediately resigned it in favour of his brother David. As a postscript to the ‘Treaty of Falaise’, under its terms, Henry II had the right to choose William’s bride and as a result, he married Ermengarde de Beaumont, a granddaughter of Henry I, at ‘Wdestoke’ (Woodstock, near Oxford) on the 5th of September, 1186, as recorded by ‘Benedict of Peterborough’ and the ‘Chronicle of Melrose’. Ermengarde’s dowry was Edinburgh Castle. The ‘Treaty of Falaise’ remained in force for the next fifteen years until, in 1189, Richard Coeur de Lion (Richard ‘the Lionheart’), who was broke and in dire need of money to finance the ‘Third Crusade’ to relieve Jerusalem, agreed to an annulment and the restoration of the towns of Berwick and Roxburgh. William and Scotland’s release from subjection and allegiance cost 10,000 silver marks (or merks) and the transaction was called the ‘Quitclaim of Canterbury’.
Early in the 13th Century, after King John came to the Throne in England, in 1199, William planned another assault on Northumberland and there were a number of skirmishes along the border. Instead of pursuing war, he eventually abandoned the idea as he is said to have had a ‘divine warning’ of the dire consequences of an invasion. William died “in Stirlin” on the 4th of December, 1214 and, as the 1251 ‘Chronicle of the Picts and Scots’ also records, he was buried in front of the high altar in the still only partially completed Abbey Church “in Aberbrothock” (Arbroath).