David I, King of Scots, died on the 24th of May, 1153, at Carlisle.
David mac Malcolm was the youngest of the Margaretsons and became David I, King of Scots, on the 23rd of April, 1124, after the death of his brother, Alexander I. He was a pious King, which befitted the son of Saint Margaret of Scotland, and is recognised for his contribution to the development of Scotland through religious and administrative reform, including the introduction of the first standard coinage. He spent money on building many Abbeys and Monasteries, and he spent his formative years, from about the age of nine, along with several of his siblings, as an exile at the English court.
His émigré status was seemingly as a hostage for the good behaviour of the Scots, who were ruled in succession by three of his brothers, after the death of their father, Malcolm III (Canmore), although it might have been as a refugee from his uncle, Donald III. Of the significant events in Davie’s life, perhaps the most influential was the near thirty years he spent at the Norman English court. Bearing in mind that he lived not too long after what is arguably the most significant event in British history, the Norman conquest, Davie’s history, and that of Scotland’s thereafter, is inextricably linked to English affairs.
For a start, his mother Margaret (later canonized) was the daughter of Edward the Aetheling, son of Edmund II of England. His sister Maud (Matilda in England) married Henry, the brother of William (‘Rufus’) II, who became Henry I, in 1100. Then, in about 1113, Davie married Matilda, daughter of Waltheof, Earl of Huntingdon, widow of Simon de Senlis and great niece of William I of England. Through that marriage, he acquired large estates in England, including the Earldom of Northampton and the Honour of Huntingdon, with a legitimate claim to a large part of England.
Those relationships and his landholdings in England can be said to be directly responsible for some of the momentous future events in Scotland’s history. From the interference of Edward I in the Scots succession, in 1292, when several of the candidates were linked to the Earldom of Huntingdon, to the persistent claims of English overlordship and demands for homage; it all stemmed from David’s time.
As a prelude to his becoming King, Davie assumed the title Prince of Cumbria. Then, when his brother Edgar died, in 1107, an arrangement was reached whereby Davie became, in effect, ruler of Southern Scotland, whilst his remaining brother became Alexander I, King of Scots. Alexander wasn’t too happy about the deal, but in reality he wasn’t in much of a position to alter the course of events. Davie of course, succeeded Alexander as King of Scots, in 1124, when he was in his mid-40s.
There was one major conflict between Scotland and the Auld Enemy during Davie’s reign, which took place near Northallerton, in Yorkshire, in 1138. That occurred some time after the death of Henry I, who was succeeded by his daughter, Matilda, Davie’s neice. Her reign was disputed by Stephen, who usurped Matilda to become King, and that gave Davie the opportunity to invade England, ostensibly on her behalf. In truth, he was also after consolidating some territory for himsel’. Davie was defeated at the Battle of the Standard, which shall be the subject of another episode, but his campaign did result in his securing a hold on a large part of northern England. Through the Treaty of Durham, in 1139, he also had his son, Henry, accepted as Earl of Northumberland, a title Davie himself had held, don’t forget. Ten years later, he gained the agreement of Matilda’s son, Henry II, for Scotland to retain Northumberland (or Northumbria), Cumberland (Cumbria) and Westmorland (Westmoria, ha!). It’s a shame that didn’t last.
When his brother died, in 1124, Davie set off for Scotland, accompanied by many Norman knights and courtiers from England. These were the people he had grown up with and comprised his friends and those from whom he was owed allegiance. Now, here’s a way of looking at the situation… Scotland as a notion of a nation, was only around 300 years old and its peoples comprised a mixture of ancient Picts, Scots, Britons, Celts, Gaels, Angles, Saxons, Danes, Vikings (and Egyptians and Spaniards if you want to add a myth or two). Its society was still largely tribal or clan-based and its traditions largely Celtic in origin. Now along comes Davie mac Malcolm with his fancy Norman mates and sets about implementing fundamental change.
Many of those Anglo-Normans who rode north with oor Davie became the future aristocrats and even Kings of Scotland. Amongst others, they included the de Brus, Balliol, de Morville and FitzAlan families. When he was established on the throne, Davie introduced feudal tenure at the expense of the old Celtic forms of government and fealty. He granted Scottish lands and privileges to his Norman mates in return for their homage and support. He appointed them to official positions, such as sheriffs and justiciars, under royal authority. In short, King David anglicised the Lowlands, frenchified the language at court and forever changed the backdrop of Scotland. So when you get all starry-eyed about tales of Robert the Bruce, don’t forget, he wisnae really Scottish at all.
You could be forgiven for thinking all that must have felt to the Celtic-Gaelic natives like invasion or betrayal. The only saving grace is that oor Davie was born a Scot. In essence though, he was more Anglo-French than Scottish, having spent thirty years in England. We shouldn’t be so critical of him as any nine year old would have been affected by such an experience. Essentially, he grew up as a Norman; everything he was taught by Normans, about Normans, and for Normans. Nevertheless, give Davie his due, he made a positive difference in many respects, no question about that and, of course, progress is progress, however it comes about.
David mac Malcolm died peacefully on the 24th of May, 1153, in Carlisle, and he was buried in Dunfermline, where he had extended the Church into an Abbey in commemoration of his parents. He was succeeded by his twelve year old grandson, Malcolm, Earl of Huntingdon, who became Malcolm IV. Nigel Tranter, in ‘David the Prince’, treated the story with his own style of reverence; it’s a good read. See if you can find it on Amazon or AbeBooks. Or you could check out Richard Oram's excellent factual biography.