Edgar, King of Scotland

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Edgar
Edgar Skot.jpg
Seal of King Edgar, styles Edgar Basileus ("sovereign") of the Scots
King of Alba (Scots)
Reign10971107
Predecessor Donald III
Successor Alexander I
Bornc. 1074
Died(1107-01-08)8 January 1107
Edinburgh
Burial
House Dunkeld
Father Malcolm III of Scotland
Mother Margaret of Wessex

Edgar or Étgar mac Maíl Choluim (Modern Gaelic: Eagar mac Mhaoil Chaluim), nicknamed Probus, "the Valiant" [1] (c. 1074 8 January 1107), was King of Scotland from 1097 to 1107. He was the fourth son of Malcolm III and Margaret of Wessex but the first to be considered eligible for the throne after the death of his father.

Scottish Gaelic Celtic language native to Scotland

Scottish Gaelic or Scots Gaelic, sometimes also referred to simply as Gaelic, is a Celtic language native to the Gaels of Scotland. A member of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic languages, Scottish Gaelic, like Modern Irish and Manx, developed out of Middle Irish. Most of modern Scotland was once Gaelic-speaking, as evidenced especially by Gaelic-language placenames.

Contents

Reign

Edgar claimed the kingship in early 1095, following the murder of his half-brother Duncan II in late 1094 by Máel Petair of Mearns, a supporter of Edgar's uncle Donald III. His older brother Edmund sided with Donald, presumably in return for an appanage and acknowledgement as the heir of the aged and son-less Donald. [2]

Máel Petair of Mearns is the only known Mormaer of the Mearns. His name means " tonsured one of (Saint) Peter".

Edmund or Etmond mac Maíl Coluim was a son of Malcolm III of Scotland and his second wife, Margaret of Wessex. He may be found on some lists of Scottish kings, but there is no evidence that he was king. Although Edmund was probably Malcolm and Margaret's second son, he was passed over in subsequent successions as a result of betraying his siblings by siding with their uncle, Donald III.

Edgar received limited support from William II of England as Duncan had before him; however, the English king was occupied with a revolt led by Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria, who appears to have had the support of Donald and Edmund. Rufus campaigned in northern England for much of 1095, and during this time Edgar gained control only of Lothian. A charter issued at Durham at this time names him "... son of Máel Coluim King of Scots ... possessing the whole land of Lothian and the kingship of the Scots by the gift of my lord William, king of the English, and by paternal heritage." [3]

William II of England 11th-century King of England

William II, the third son of William the Conqueror, was King of England from 1087 until 1100, with powers over Normandy, and influence in Scotland. He was less successful in extending control into Wales. William is commonly known as William Rufus, perhaps because of his ruddy appearance or, more likely, due to having red hair as a child that grew out in later life.

Robert de Mowbray, a Norman, was Earl of Northumbria from 1086, until 1095, when he was deposed for rebelling against William Rufus, King of England. He was the son of Roger de Mowbray and nephew of Geoffrey de Montbray, bishop of Coutances. The family name derives from Montbrai in Manche, Normandy, Mowbray being an Anglicisation of it.

Earl of Northumbria was a title in the Anglo-Danish, late Anglo-Saxon, and early Anglo-Norman period in England. The earldom of Northumbria was the successor of the earldom of Bamburgh. In the seventh century, the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira were united in the kingdom of Northumbria, but this was destroyed by the Vikings in 867. Southern Northumbria, the former Deira, then became the Viking kingdom of York, while English earls ruled the former northern kingdom of Bernicia from their base at Bamburgh. The northern part of Bernicia was lost to the Scots, probably in the late tenth century. In 1006 Uhtred the Bold was earl of Bamburgh, and Æthelred the Unready appointed him earl of York as well, re-uniting the area of Northumbria still under English control into a single earldom. Uhtred was murdered in 1016, and Cnut then appointed Eric of Hlathir earl of Northumbria at York, but Uhtred's dynasty held onto Bernicia until 1041, when the earldom was again united. A descendant of Uhtred, Gospatric, was appointed earl by William the Conqueror in 1067, but William expelled him in 1072. Gospatric was then given lands in Scotland, and his descendants became earls of Dunbar. The earldom of Northumbria was broken up in the early Norman period and dissolved into the earldoms of York and Northumberland, with much land going to the prince-bishopric of Durham.

Edgar's claims had the support of his brothers Alexander and David Ethelred was Abbot of Dunkeld, and Edmund was divided from his siblings by his support of Donald and his uncle Edgar Ætheling as these witnessed the charter at Durham. [4]

Alexander I of Scotland King of the Scots

Alexander I, posthumously nicknamed The Fierce, was the King of Scotland from 1107 to his death.

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.

Ethelred was the son of King Malcolm III of Scotland and his wife Margaret of Wessex, the third oldest of the latter and the probable sixth oldest of the former. He took his name, almost certainly, from Margaret's great-grandfather Æthelred the Unready. He became the lay abbot of Dunkeld.

William Rufus spent 1096 in Normandy which he bought from his brother Robert Curthose, and it was not until 1097 that Edgar received the further support which led to the defeat of Donald and Edmund in a hard-fought campaign led by Edgar Ætheling. [5]

Normandy Administrative region of France

Normandy is one of the 18 regions of France, roughly referring to the historical Duchy of Normandy.

Robert Curthose 11th and 12th-century Duke of Normandy, crusader, and claimant to the English throne

Robert Curthose, sometimes called Robert II, succeeded his father, William the Conqueror as Duke of Normandy in 1087 and reigned until 1106. Robert was also an unsuccessful claimant to the throne of the Kingdom of England. The epithet "Curthose" had its origins in the Norman French word courtheuse "short stockings" and was apparently derived from a nickname given to Robert by his father; the chroniclers William of Malmesbury and Orderic Vitalis reported that William the Conqueror had derisively called Robert brevis-ocrea.

Although Geoffrey Gaimar claimed that Edgar owed feudal service to William Rufus, it is clear from Rufus's agreement to pay Edgar 40 or 60 shillings a day maintenance when in attendance at the English court that this was less than accurate. In any event, he did attend the court on occasion. On 29 May 1099, for example, Edgar served as sword-bearer at the great feast to inaugurate Westminster Hall. After William Rufus's death, however, Edgar ceased to appear at the English court. He was not present at the coronation of Henry I. [6]

Geoffrey Gaimar, also written Geffrei or Geoffroy Gaimar, was an Anglo-Norman chronicler. His lasting contribution to medieval literature and history was as a translator from Old English to Anglo-Norman. His L'Estoire des Engleis, or History of the English People, written between 1136 and 1140, was a chronicle in eight-syllable rhyming couplets, running to 6,526 lines.

Henry I of England 12th-century King of England and Duke of Normandy

Henry I, also known as Henry Beauclerc, was King of England from 1100 to his death in 1135. Henry was the fourth son of William the Conqueror and was educated in Latin and the liberal arts. On William's death in 1087, Henry's elder brothers Robert Curthose and William Rufus inherited Normandy and England, respectively, but Henry was left landless. Henry purchased the County of Cotentin in western Normandy from Robert, but William and Robert deposed him in 1091. Henry gradually rebuilt his power base in the Cotentin and allied himself with William against Robert. Henry was present when William died in a hunting accident in 1100, and he seized the English throne, promising at his coronation to correct many of William's less popular policies. Henry married Matilda of Scotland but continued to have a large number of mistresses by whom he had many illegitimate children.

Edgar was certainly not heir by primogeniture, as later kings would be, since Duncan II had a legitimate son and heir in the person of William fitz Duncan. [7] With Donald and Edmund removed, however, Edgar was uncontested king of Scots, and his reign incurred no major crisis. Compared with his rise to power, Edgar's reign is obscure. One notable act was his gift of a camel (or perhaps an elephant), presumably a 'souvenir' of the First Crusade, to his fellow Gael Muircheartach Ua Briain, High King of Ireland. [8]

In 1098, Edgar signed a treaty with Magnus Barefoot, King of Norway, setting the boundary between Scots and Norwegian claims in the west. By ceding claims to the Hebrides and Kintyre to Magnus, Edgar acknowledged the practical realities of the existing situation. [9] Edgar's religious foundations included a priory at Coldingham in 1098, associated with the Convent of Durham. At Dunfermline Abbey he sought support from Anselm of Canterbury with his mother's foundation from which the monks of Canterbury may have been expelled by Domnall Bán. [10]

Edgar died in Edinburgh on 8 January 1107 and was buried at Dunfermline Abbey. Unmarried and childless, he acknowledged his brother Alexander as his successor. Edgar's will also granted David an appanage in "Cumbria" (the lands of the former Kingdom of Strathclyde), and perhaps also in southern parts of Lothian. [11] David would later be known as Prince of the Cumbrians

Contradictory account of his death

There is a contradictory account of his death, recorded by Orderic Vitalis (12th century). According to this account, Edgar was killed by his uncle Donald III, while Donald III was killed by Alexander I. [12] This account reports: "On the death of Malcolm [III], king of the Scots, great divisions rose among them, in reference to the succession to the crown. Edgar, the king's eldest son, assumed it as his lawful right, but Donald, King Malcolm's brother, having usurped authority, opposed him with great cruelty, and at length the brave youth [Edgar] was murdered by his uncle. Alexander [I], however, his brother, slew Donald, and ascended the throne; being thus the avenger as well as the successor of his brother...". [13]

Benjamin Hudson dismisses the story as "completely false". But its existence points to the circulation of "incorrect" tales about the monarchs of the late 11th century. [14] Verses of The Prophecy of Berchán allude to the murder of another Scottish king: "Alas a king will take sovereignty for four nights and one month;I think it is grievous that the Gaels will boast, woe to him who celebrates him. ... A son of the woman of the English... I think it is wretched, that his brother will kill him." [15] The English woman is obviously Saint Margaret, the Anglo-Saxon consort of Malcolm III. But none of her children, male or female, are known to have been killed by one of their own siblings. The confusion probably derives from the murder of their half-sibling Duncan II of Scotland, son of Malcolm III and his first wife Ingibiorg Finnsdottir. [16] A note in the Annals of Ulster claims that Duncan II was murdered by his brothers Donmall [Donald] and Edmund. As Duncan had no brothers by these names, the text probably points to his uncle Donald III and half-brother Edmund of Scotland, though later texts identify a noble by the name of Máel Petair of Mearns as the actual murderer. [17]

Notes

  1. Anderson, Early Sources, vol. ii, p. 141.
  2. Oram, pp. 4445.
  3. Oram, p. 46, notes that the charter distinguishes Lothian, William Rufus's gift, from the kingship of the Scots, paternal heritage; Duncan, p. 56.
  4. Oram, p.46.
  5. Oram, p.47; Duncan, pp/. 5758.
  6. Duncan, p.58.
  7. Duncan, p. 59.
  8. Annals of Innisfallen, s.a. 1105.
  9. Oram, p. 48.
  10. Barrow, p. 153.
  11. Duncan, p. 60; Oram, p. 60.
  12. Hudson, p. 119.
  13. Orderic Vitalis, Vol. III, page 14
  14. Hudson, p. 119.
  15. Hudson, p. 92.
  16. Hudson, p. 119.
  17. Hudson, p. 92.

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References

Edgar, King of Scotland
Born: c. 1074 Died: 8 January 1107
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Donald III
King of Scotland
10971107
Succeeded by
Alexander I