Alexander I of Scotland

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Alexander I
Alexander I (Alba) ii.JPG
The reverse of Alexander's seal, enhanced as a 19th-century steel engraving
King of Scots
Reign1107–1124
Predecessor Edgar
Successor David I
Bornc. 1078
Dunfermline
Died23 April 1124 (aged 45)
Stirling
Burial
Spouse Sybilla of Normandy
Issue Malcolm (illegitimate)
House House of Dunkeld
Father Malcolm III of Scotland
Mother Margaret of Wessex

Alexander I (medieval Gaelic: Alaxandair mac Maíl Coluim; modern Gaelic: Alasdair mac Mhaol Chaluim; c. 1078 – 23 April 1124), posthumously nicknamed The Fierce, [1] was the King of Scotland from 1107 to his death.

Contents

Life

Alexander was the fifth son of Malcolm III by his wife Margaret of Wessex, grandniece of Edward the Confessor. Alexander was named after Pope Alexander II.

Malcolm III was King of Scots from 1058 to 1093. He was later nicknamed "Canmore". Malcolm's long reign of 35 years preceded the beginning of the Scoto-Norman age. Henry I of England and Eustace III of Boulogne were his sons-in-law, making him the maternal grandfather of Empress Matilda, William Adelin and Matilda of Boulogne. All three of them were prominent in English politics during the 12th century.

Saint Margaret of Scotland Queen of Scotland

Saint Margaret of Scotland, also known as Margaret of Wessex, was an English princess and a Scottish queen. Margaret was sometimes called "The Pearl of Scotland". Born in exile in the Kingdom of Hungary, she was the sister of Edgar Ætheling, the shortly reigned and uncrowned Anglo-Saxon King of England. Margaret and her family returned to the Kingdom of England in 1057, but fled to the Kingdom of Scotland following the Norman conquest of England in 1066. By the end of 1070, Margaret had married King Malcolm III of Scotland, becoming Queen of Scots.

Edward the Confessor 11th-century Anglo-Saxon King of England and saint

Edward the Confessor, also known as Saint Edward the Confessor, was among the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England. Usually considered the last king of the House of Wessex, he ruled from 1042 to 1066.

He was the younger brother of King Edgar, who was unmarried, and his brother's heir presumptive by 1104 (and perhaps earlier). In that year he was the senior layman present at the examination of the remains of Saint Cuthbert at Durham prior to their re-interment. He held lands in Scotland north of the Forth and in Lothian. [2]

An heir presumptive is the person entitled to inherit a throne, peerage, or other hereditary honour, but whose position can be displaced by the birth of an heir apparent or of a new heir presumptive with a better claim to the position in question. The position is however subject to law and/or conventions that may alter who is entitled to be heir presumptive.

Durham, England City in England

Durham is a historic city and the county town of County Durham in North East England. The city lies on the River Wear, to the west of Sunderland, south of Newcastle upon Tyne and to the north of Darlington. Founded over the final resting place of St Cuthbert, its Norman cathedral became a centre of pilgrimage in medieval England. The cathedral and adjacent 11th-century castle were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. The castle has been the home of Durham University since 1832. HM Prison Durham is also located close to the city centre. City of Durham is the name of the civil parish.

River Forth River in Scotland

The River Forth is a major river, 47 km (29 mi) long, whose drainage basin covers much of Stirlingshire in Scotland's Central Belt. The Gaelic name is Abhainn Dubh, meaning "black river", in the upper reach above Stirling. Below the tidal reach, its name is Uisge For.

On the death of Edgar in 1107 he succeeded to the Scottish crown; but, in accordance with Edgar's instructions, their brother David was granted an appanage in southern Scotland. Edgar's will granted David the lands of the former kingdom of Strathclyde or Cumbria, and this was apparently agreed in advance by Edgar, Alexander, David and their brother-in-law Henry I of England. In 1113, perhaps at Henry's instigation, and with the support of his Anglo-Norman allies, David demanded, and received, additional lands in Lothian along the Upper Tweed and Teviot. David did not receive the title of king, but of "prince of the Cumbrians", and his lands remained under Alexander's final authority. [3]

David I of Scotland King of Scots, Prince of the Cumbrians

David I or Dauíd mac Maíl Choluim was a 12th-century ruler who was Prince of the Cumbrians from 1113 to 1124 and later King of the Scots from 1124 to 1153. The youngest son of Malcolm III and Margaret of Wessex, David spent most of his childhood in Scotland, but was exiled to England temporarily in 1093. Perhaps after 1100, he became a dependent at the court of King Henry I. There he was influenced by the Anglo-French culture of the court.

An appanage or apanage or French: apanage is the grant of an estate, title, office, or other thing of value to a younger male child of a sovereign, who would otherwise have no inheritance under the system of primogeniture. It was common in much of Europe.

Kingdom of Strathclyde medieval kingdom in northern Britain

Strathclyde, originally Cumbric: Ystrad Clud or Alclud, was one of the early medieval kingdoms of the Britons in Hen Ogledd, the Brythonic-speaking parts of what is now southern Scotland and northern England. The kingdom developed during the post-Roman period. It is also known as Alt Clut, a Brittonic term for Dumbarton Castle, the medieval capital of the region. It may have had its origins with the Brythonic Damnonii people of Ptolemy's Geography.

The dispute over Tweeddale and Teviotdale does not appear to have damaged relations between Alexander and David, although it was unpopular in some quarters. A Gaelic poem laments:

It's bad what Malcolm's son has done,
dividing us from Alexander;
he causes, like each king's son before,
the plunder of stable Alba. [4]

The dispute over the eastern marches does not appear to have caused lasting trouble between Alexander and Henry of England. In 1114 he joined Henry on campaign in Wales against Gruffudd ap Cynan of Gwynedd. [5] Alexander's marriage with Henry's illegitimate daughter Sybilla of Normandy may have occurred as early as 1107, or as at late as 1114. [6]

William of Malmesbury's account attacks Sybilla, but the evidence argues that Alexander and Sybilla were a devoted but childless couple and Sybilla was of noteworthy piety. [7] Sybilla died in unrecorded circumstances at Eilean nam Ban (Kenmore on Loch Tay) in July 1122 and was buried at Dunfermline Abbey. Alexander did not remarry and Walter Bower wrote that he planned an Augustinian Priory at the Eilean nam Ban dedicated to Sybilla's memory, and he may have taken steps to have her venerated. [8]

Alexander had at least one illegitimate child, Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair, who was later to be involved in a revolt against David I in the 1130s. He was imprisoned at Roxburgh for many years afterwards, perhaps until his death some time after 1157. [9]

Alexander was, like his brothers Edgar and David, a notably pious king. He was responsible for foundations at Scone and Inchcolm. His mother's chaplain and hagiographer Thurgot was named Bishop of Saint Andrews (or Cell Rígmonaid) in 1107, presumably by Alexander's order. [2] The case of Thurgot's would-be successor Eadmer shows that Alexander's wishes were not always accepted by the religious community, perhaps because Eadmer had the backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ralph d'Escures, rather than Thurstan of York. Alexander also patronised Saint Andrews, granting lands intended for an Augustinian Priory, which may have been the same as that intended to honour his wife. [10]

For all his religiosity, Alexander was not remembered as a man of peace. John of Fordun says of him:

Now the king was a lettered and godly man; very humble and amiable towards the clerics and regulars, but terrible beyond measure to the rest of his subjects; a man of large heart, exerting himself in all things beyond his strength. [11]

He manifested the terrible aspect of his character in his reprisals in the Mormaerdom of Moray. Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland says that Alexander was holding court at Invergowrie when he was attacked by "men of the Isles". [12] Walter Bower says the attackers were from Moray and Mearns. Alexander pursued them north, to "Stockford" in Ross (near Beauly) where he defeated them. This, says Wyntoun, is why he was named the "Fierce". The dating of this is uncertain, as are his enemies' identity. However, in 1116 the Annals of Ulster report: "Ladhmann son of Domnall, grandson of the king of Scotland, was killed by the men of Moray." The king referred to is Alexander's father, Malcolm III, and Domnall was Alexander's half brother. The Mormaerdom or Kingdom of Moray was ruled by the family of Macbeth (Mac Bethad mac Findláich) and Lulach (Lulach mac Gille Coemgáin): not overmighty subjects, but a family who had ruled Alba within little more than a lifetime. Who the Mormaer or King was at this time is not known; it may have been Óengus of Moray or his father, whose name is not known. As for the Mearns, the only known Mormaer of Mearns, Máel Petair, had murdered Alexander's half-brother Duncan II (Donnchad mac Maíl Coluim) in 1094. [13]

Alexander died in April 1124 at his court at Stirling; his brother David, probably the acknowledged heir since the death of Sybilla, succeeded him. [14]

Fictional portrayals

Alexander I has been depicted in a fantasy novel.: [15]

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References

  1. This nickname however is not attested for another three centuries, in the work of Andrew of Wyntoun.
  2. 1 2 Barrow, p. 154.
  3. Oram, pp. 60–63.
  4. Oram, p. 66 citing Clancy, The Triumph Tree.
  5. Oram, p. 65.
  6. Oram, p. 65; a date around 1114 would place the marriage at about the same time as that of David and Maud of Huntingdon.
  7. Duncan, p. 65; Oram, p. 71.
  8. Oram, p. 71.
  9. Oram, p. 77. The identity of this person may be still in question, see Meic Uilleim and MacHeths.
  10. Barrow, p. 156.
  11. Fordun, V, xxviii (Skene's edition).
  12. Wyntoun, cxxvii.
  13. MacDonald, pp. 23–24, deals with this affair.
  14. Oram, pp.71–72.
  15. 1 2 Saint Andrews, Brodrick (2010), p. 99-104

Sources

Further reading

Alexander I of Scotland
Born: c. 1078  Died: 23 April 1124
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Edgar
King of Scotland
1107–1124
Succeeded by
David I