Malcolm IV of Scotland

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Malcolm IV
Malcolm IV, King of Scotland, charter to Kelso Abbey, 1159, initial (crop Malcolm IV).jpg
King of Scotland
Reign24 May 1153 – 9 December 1165
Coronation 27 May 1153
Predecessor David I
Successor William I
Born23 April 1141 – 24 May 1141 [1]
Died(1165-12-09)9 December 1165
House Dunkeld
Father Henry, Earl of Huntingdon and Northumbria
Mother Ada de Warenne

Malcolm IV (Mediaeval Gaelic: Máel Coluim mac Eanric; Modern Gaelic: Maol Chaluim mac Eanraig), nicknamed Virgo, "the Maiden" (between 23 April and 24 May 1141 9 December 1165) was King of Scotland from 1153 until his death. He was the eldest son of Henry, Earl of Huntingdon and Northumbria (died 1152) and Ada de Warenne. The original Malcolm Canmore, a name now associated with his great-grandfather Malcolm III (Máel Coluim mac Donnchada), he succeeded his grandfather David I, and shared David's Anglo-Norman tastes.

Ada de Warenne was a Scottish princess, the Anglo-Norman wife of Henry of Scotland, Earl of Northumbria and Earl of Huntingdon. She was the daughter of William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey by Elizabeth of Vermandois, and a great-granddaughter of Henry I of France. She became mother to two Kings of Scots, Malcolm the Maiden and William the Lion.

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.

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.


Called Malcolm the Maiden by later chroniclers, a name which may incorrectly suggest weakness or effeminacy to modern readers, he was noted for his religious zeal and interest in knighthood and warfare. For much of his reign he was in poor health and died unmarried at the age of twenty-four.

Knight An award of an honorary title for past or future service with its roots in chivalry in the Middle Ages

A knight is a man granted an honorary title of knighthood by a monarch, bishop or other political or religious leader for service to the monarch or a Christian church, especially in a military capacity.


David I (left) with the young Malcolm IV (right) depicted on the charter to Kelso Abbey. Malcolm IV, King of Scotland, charter to Kelso Abbey, 1159, initial.jpg
David I (left) with the young Malcolm IV (right) depicted on the charter to Kelso Abbey.

Earl Henry, son and heir of King David I of Scotland, had been in poor health throughout the 1140s. He died suddenly on 12 June 1152. His death occurred in either Newcastle or Roxburgh, both located in those areas of Northumbria which he and his father had attached to the Scots crown in the period of English weakness after the death of Henry I of England. Unlike in the case of the English king, who had been left without male heirs after the death of his only son in the Wreck of the White Ship, the King of Scots, David I, did not lack for immediate heirs upon the death of Earl Henry. This was because Earl Henry had left behind three sons to carry forward the lineage of his father. [2]

Henry of Scotland Father of Malcolm IV and William I of Scotland

Henry of Scotland was heir apparent to the Kingdom of Alba. He was also the 3rd Earl of Northumberland and the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon. He was the son of King David I of Scotland and Queen Maud, 2nd Countess of Huntingdon.

Roxburgh village in Scotland

Roxburgh, also known as Rosbroch, is a civil parish and now-destroyed royal burgh, in the historic county of Roxburghshire in the Scottish Borders. It was an important trading burgh in High Medieval to early modern Scotland. In the Middle Ages it had at least as much importance as Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, or Berwick-upon-Tweed, for a time acting as de facto capital.

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.

Malcolm, the eldest of Earl Henry's sons, was only eleven years old. He was however sent by his grandfather on a circuit of the kingdom, accompanied by Donnchad, Mormaer of Fife, and a large army. Donnchad had been styled rector, perhaps indicating that he was to hold the regency for Malcolm on David's death. [3] These preparations were timely, because King David survived his son less than one year, dying on 24 May 1153 at Carlisle. Malcolm was inaugurated as king on 27 May 1153 at Scone at age twelve. [4] Donnchad, who duly became regent for the young Malcolm, ensured that the inauguration took place before the old king was even buried. This might appear unseemly, but there was good reason for the haste. Malcolm was not without rivals for the kingship. Donnchad himself died a year later, in 1154.

Donnchad, Earl of Fife (1113–1154), usually known in English as Duncan, was the first Gaelic magnate to have his territory regranted to him by feudal charter, by King David in 1136. Duncan, as head of the native Scottish nobility, had the job of introducing and conducting King Malcolm around the Kingdom upon his accession; however, Malcolm died not long after being crowned.

A regent is a person appointed to govern a state because the monarch is a minor, is absent or is incapacitated. The rule of a regent or regents is called a regency. A regent or regency council may be formed ad hoc or in accordance with a constitutional rule. "Regent" is sometimes a formal title. If the regent is holding his position due to his position in the line of succession, the compound term prince regent is often used; if the regent of a minor is his mother, she is often referred to as "queen regent".

Scone, Scotland village in Perth and Kinross, Scotland

Scone is a village in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. The medieval village of Scone, which grew up around the monastery and royal residence, was abandoned in the early 19th century when the residents were removed and a new palace was built on the site by the Earl of Mansfield. Hence the modern village of Scone, and the medieval village of Old Scone, can often be distinguished.

Rivals and neighbours

The Orkneyinga Saga claims "William the Noble", son of William fitz Duncan, was the man whom "every Scotsman wanted for his king". [5] As William fitz Duncan married Alice de Rumilly c.1137, young William could only have been a youth, perhaps a child, by 1153. There is no evidence to suggest that William ever made any claims to the throne, and he died young, in the early 1160s, leaving his sizable estates to his three sisters. [6] Of William Fitz Duncan's other sons, Bishop Wimund had already been blinded, emasculated and imprisoned at Byland Abbey before King David's death, but Domnall mac Uilleim, first of the Meic Uilleim, had considerable support in the former mormaerdom of Moray. Another contender, imprisoned at Roxburgh since about 1130, was Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair, an illegitimate son of Alexander I. Máel Coluim's sons were free men in 1153. They could be expected to contest the succession, and did so.

William fitz Duncan was a Scottish prince, a territorial magnate in northern Scotland and northern England, a general and the legitimate son of king Donnchad II of Scotland by Athelreda (Ethelreda) of Dunbar.

Wimund was a bishop who became a seafaring warlord adventurer in the years after 1147. His story is passed down to us by 12th-century English historian William of Newburgh in his Historia rerum anglicarum, Book I, Chapter 24 entitled "Of bishop Wimund, his life unbecoming a bishop, and how he was deprived of his sight".

Byland Abbey human settlement in the United Kingdom

Byland Abbey is a ruined abbey and a small village in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, England, in the North York Moors National Park.

As a new and young king, Malcolm also faced threats to his rule from his neighbours. Foremost among them were Somerled, King of Argyll; Fergus, Lord of Galloway; and Henry II, King of England. Only Rognvald Kali Kolsson, Earl of Orkney, was otherwise occupied (on a crusade), and his death in 1158 brought the young and ambitious Harald Maddadsson to power in Orkney, who proved yet another threat to the young Malcolm.

Somerled, known in Middle Irish as Somairle, Somhairle, and Somhairlidh, and in Old Norse as Sumarliði, was a mid-12th-century warlord who, through marital alliance and military conquest, rose in prominence and seized control of the Kingdom of the Isles. Little is certain of Somerled's origins, although he appears to have belonged to a Norse–Gaelic family of some substance. His father, GilleBride, appears to have conducted a marriage alliance with Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair, son of Alexander I of Scotland, and claimant to the Scottish throne. Following a period of dependence upon David I of Scotland, Somerled first appears on record in 1153, when he supported kinsmen, identified as the sons of Malcolm, in their insurgence against the newly enthroned Malcolm IV of Scotland. Following this unsuccessful uprising, Somerled appears to have turned his sights upon the kingship of the Isles, then ruled by his brother-in-law, Godred Olafsson. Taking advantage of the latter's faltering authority, Somerled participated in a violent coup d'état, and seized half of the kingdom in 1156. Two years later, he defeated and drove Godred from power, and Somerled ruled the entire kingdom until his death.

Argyll Historic county in Scotland

Argyll, sometimes anglicised as Argyllshire, is a historic county and registration county of western Scotland.

Fergus of Galloway Lord of Galloway

Fergus of Galloway was a twelfth-century Lord of Galloway. Although his familial origins are unknown, it is possible that he was of Norse-Gaelic ancestry. Fergus first appears on record in 1136, when he witnessed a charter of David I, King of Scotland. There is considerable evidence indicating that Fergus was married to a bastard daughter of Henry I, King of England. Although the identity of this woman is unknown, it is possible that she was the mother of Fergus' three children.

The first open opposition to Malcolm came in November 1153, from family rivals, the sons of Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair. They mounted their challenge with the aid of a neighbour, Somerled of Argyll. This threat soon dissipated, because Somerled was beset with more pressing concerns: his war with Guðrøðr Óláfsson, King of the Isles lasted until 1156 and a possible conflict with Gille Críst, Mormaer of Menteith, over Cowal, loomed large. [7] Support for the sons of Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair may also have come from areas closer to the core of the kingdom; two conspirators are named by chroniclers, one of whom died in trial by combat in February 1154. [8]

In 1157, it is reported, King Malcolm was reconciled with Máel Coluim MacHeth, who was appointed to the Mormaerdom of Ross, which had probably been held by his father. [9]

Malcolm IV and Henry II

Peveril Castle in Derbyshire, where Malcolm paid homage to Henry II Peveril Castle keep, 2009.jpg
Peveril Castle in Derbyshire, where Malcolm paid homage to Henry II

Malcolm was not only King of Scots, but also inherited the Earldom of Northumbria, which his father and grandfather had gained during the wars between Stephen and Empress Matilda. Malcolm granted Northumbria to his brother William, keeping Cumbria for himself. Cumbria was, like the earldoms of Northumbria and Huntingdon, and later Chester, a fief of the English crown. While Malcolm delayed doing homage to Henry II of England for his possessions in Henry's kingdom, he did so in 1157 at Peveril Castle in Derbyshire and later at Chester. [1] Henry II refused to allow Malcolm to keep Cumbria, or William to keep Northumbria, but instead granted the Earldom of Huntingdon to Malcolm, for which Malcolm did homage. [10]

After a second meeting between Malcolm and Henry, at Carlisle in 1158, "they returned without having become good friends, and so that the king of Scots was not yet knighted." [11] In 1159 Malcolm accompanied Henry to France, serving at the siege of Toulouse where he was, at last, knighted. "Whether this was the act of a king of Scots or of an earl of Huntingdon we are not told; it was certainly the act of a man desperate for knightly arms, but that did not make it any more acceptable in Scotland." [12]

Malcolm returned from Toulouse in 1160. At Perth, Roger of Hoveden reports, he faced a rebellion by six earls, led by Ferchar, Mormaer of Strathearn, who besieged the king. [13] Given that Earl Ferchar heads the list of those named, it is presumed that Donnchad II, Mormaer of Fife, was not among the rebels. [14] John of Fordun's version in the Gesta Annalia appears to suggest a peaceful settlement to the affair, and both Fordun and Hoveden follow the report of the revolt and its ending by stating that the king led an expedition into Galloway where he eventually defeated Fergus, Lord of Galloway and took his son Uchtred as a hostage while Fergus became a monk at Holyrood, dying there in 1161. [15] While it was assumed that the earls included Fergus among their number, and that the expedition to Galloway was related to the revolt, it is now thought that the earls sought to have Malcolm attack Galloway, perhaps as a result of raids by Fergus. [16]

Some time before July 1163, when he did homage to Henry II, Malcolm was taken seriously ill at Doncaster. [17] Scottish sources report that a revolt in Moray brought Malcolm north, and it is said that he:

[R]emoved [the men of Moray] from the land of their birth, as of old Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had dealt with the Jews, and scattered them throughout the other districts of Scotland, both beyond the [Mounth] and this side thereof, so that not even one native of that land abode there. [18]

Having made peace with Henry, replaced Fergus of Galloway with his sons, and resettled Moray, only one of Malcolm's foes remained, Somerled, by 1160 king of the Isles as well as of Argyll. In 1164, Somerled led a large army of Islesmen and Irishmen to attack Glasgow and Renfrew, where Walter Fitzalan had newly completed a castle. There Somerled and his son Gillebrigte were killed in battle with the levies of the area, led by the Bishop of Glasgow, probably Herbert of Selkirk at that time. The chronicles of the day attributed the victory to the intercession of Saint Kentigern. [19]

Marriage project

In 1160, a marriage between Malcolm and Constance of Penthièvre was considered. Constance's brother Conan IV of Brittany had married Malcolm's sister Margaret earlier the same year. However, Constance refused to marry the Scottish king, hoping to wed the French king Louis VII instead, but Louis married Adèle of Champagne.[ citation needed ]

Death and posterity

Malcolm IV died on 9 December 1165 at Jedburgh, aged twenty-four. His premature death may have been hastened by Paget's disease (a chronic disorder that typically results in enlarged and deformed bones). [20] While his contemporaries were in no doubt that Malcolm had some of the qualities of a great king, later writers were less convinced. The compiler of the Annals of Ulster , writing soon after 1165, praises Malcolm:

Máel Coluim Cenn Mór, son of Henry, high king of Scotland, the best Christian that was of the Gaidhil [who dwell] by the sea on the east for almsdeeds, hospitality and piety, died. [21]

Likewise, William of Newburgh praises Malcolm, "the most Christian king of the Scots", highly in his Historia Rerum Anglicarum. [22]

Nonetheless, Malcolm was not well regarded in all quarters. The Gesta Annalia remarks

[Malcolm] quite neglected the care, as well as governance, of his kingdom. Wherefore he was so hated by all the common people that William, the elder of his brothers - who had always been on bad terms with the English, and their lasting foe, forasmuch as they had taken away his patrimony, the earldom of Northumbria, to wit - was by them appointed warden of the whole kingdom, against the king's will [23]

According to legend, he had a daughter who was betrothed to Henry, Prince of Capua, on the latter's deathbed, but this is said to be false as Malcolm had no heirs. However, since illegitimacy did not apply to medieval females, but it was often pretended that it did, she may have been overlooked. Malcolm's mother had formulated a plan for a marriage to Constance, daughter of Conan III, Duke of Brittany, but Malcolm died before the wedding could be celebrated. [24] This does not mean that Malcolm could not have had a concubine, or mistress.

It is difficult, given the paucity of sources, to date many of the reforms of the Scoto-Norman era, but it appears that Malcolm continued the reforms begun by his grandfather and grand-uncles. The sheriffdoms of Crail, Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Forfar, Lanark and Linlithgow appear to date from Malcolm's reign, and the office of Justiciar of Lothian may also date from this period. [25]

Malcolm founded a Cistercian monastery at Coupar Angus, and the royal taste for continental religious foundations extended to the magnates, as in Galloway, where the Premonstratensians were established at Soulseat by 1161. [26]

Fictional portrayals

Malcolm IV has been depicted in historical novels. They include :



  1. 1 2 W. W. Scott, "Malcolm IV (1141–1165)".
  2. Oram, David I, p. 200.
  3. Oram, David I, p. 201.
  4. Duncan, p. 71.
  5. Duncan, p. 70; Orkneyinga Saga, c. 33.
  6. Oram, David I, pp. 93 & 182186; Duncan, p. 102.
  7. Duncan, p.71; McDonald, Kingdom of the Isles, pp. 5154.
  8. McDonald, Outlaws, pp. 2829.
  9. Duncan, pp. 7172; McDonald, Outlaws, p. 29.
  10. Duncan, p.72; Barrow, p. 47; William of Newburgh in SAEC, p. 239.
  11. Roger of Hoveden in SAEC, p. 240.
  12. Duncan, p. 72.
  13. Gesta Annalia, iii; SAEC, pp. 241242; Duncan, pp. 7273.
  14. Duncan, pp. 7273.
  15. Gesta Annalia, iii.
  16. Brooke, pp. 9195; McDonald, Outlaws, pp. 8991.
  17. SAEC, p. 242.
  18. Gesta Annalia, iv; McDonald, Outlaws, pp. 3031.
  19. McDonald, Kingdom of the Isles, pp. 6167.
  20. Duncan, pp. 7475.
  21. Annals of Ulster, s.a. 1165.
  22. Quoted in SAEC, p. 243.
  23. Gesta Annalia, iv; Duncan, p. 74, doubts Fordun's account.
  24. Oram, The Canmores, p. 51.
  25. McNeill & MacQueen, p. 192; Barrow ?
  26. McNeill & MacQueen, p. 340.
  27. "Lord of the Isles", description from the bookjacket
  28. "Lord of the Isles",customer reviews
  29. "Tranter first edition books, publication timeline", part IV
  30. "Tapestry of the Boar",summary
  31. Duncan, p. 37.
  32. 1 2 Barrow, G. W. S. "David I". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/7208.
  33. Lauder-Frost, Gregory M.S., FSA Scot.,"Agatha - The Ancestry Dispute" in The Scottish Genealogist, Edinburgh, Sept 2002, vol.xlix no. 3, pp. 71–2.
  34. Hunt, William (1899). "Waltheof (d.1076)"  . In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography . 59. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  35. George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage of England Scotland Ireland Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant Extinct or Dormant, ed. Vicary Gibbs, Vol. I (The St. Catherine Press, Ltd., London, 1910), p. 352
  36. Lewis, C. P. "Warenne, William de, first earl of Surrey [Earl Warenne]". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28736.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  37. 1 2 C. Warren Hollister, 'The Taming of a Turbulent Earl: Henry I and William of Warenne', Historical Reflections, Vol. 3 (1976) p. 90 n. 36
  38. Cokayne, p. 670.
  39. Peters, Edward, ed. (1971). The First Crusade. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 35. ISBN   0812210174.
  40. Suger, The Deeds of Louis the Fat, transl. Richard C. Cusimano and John Moorhead, (Catholic University of America Press, 1992), 191–192 note19.

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For the Gesta Annalia, see John of Fordun.
Malcolm IV of Scotland
Born: April/May 1141 Died: 9 December 1165
Preceded by
David I
King of Scotland
Succeeded by
William I
Title last held by
Simon II de Senlis
Earl of Huntingdon
Succeeded by