My Illlustrated Travel Journal with Essays about Roman and Mediaeval History and some Geology


3.8.14
  Scottish History: King David and the Civil War (Part 2)

Continuation of this post, with some random photos (I don't have any of southern England; should save up to travel there, heh).

The arrival in England of the Empress Matilda, claimant to the English throne, who was supported by her illegitimate half-brother Robert of Gloucester, in September 1139, changed the political map. Ranulf of Chester, David’s rival for Carlisle, joined her party.

At first, David watched from the sidelines, consolidating his position in Northumberland and Cumbria by a net of feudal and marital relationships between himself, his son Henry, William fitz Duncan, and various nobles,among them Eustace fitz John and the Umfravilles who became members of Henry's close entourage. Robert Bruce of Annandale resumed his feudal relationship with David after the treaty of Durham, and Bernard de Balliol swore an oath as well. Hugh de Morville had always been faithful to the king.

The castles at Newcastle and Bamburgh were again brought under David’s control, and he attained dominion over all of England north-west of the River Ribble and Pennines. He held the north-east as far south as the River Tyne, the border of the core territory of the bishopric of Durham. David also rebuilt the fortress of Carlisle which replaced Roxburgh as his favoured residence.

Once the wars in the north had stopped, David could offer a better stabilitly than either Stephen or Matilda, and Scottish rule was eventually accepted. The lands north of the Tyne would remain peaceful during the latter part of David’s reign and that’s more than could be said for most of southern and middle England.

The castle of Newcastle (left) and Tynemouth Abbey, seen from the river

When Stephen was captured by the Matilda's forces at Lincoln on 2 February 1141 (1), David finally decided to disregard his agreement with Stephen (2) and support Matilda. In either May or June, David travelled to the south of England to join Matilda's entourage, and was present during her short and unpleasant stay in London. John of Hexham notes that David soon became aware of Matilda’s shortcomings and her inability to make concessions and win allies. There may be the misogyny of a patriarchical society underlying statements like this, but fact is that Matilda did fail to gain the important support of London, and the circle of close supporters remained small. The bishop of Winchester, who happened to be Stephen’s brother Henri of Blois, kept a backdoor open though he had agreed to crown Matilda.

In the end, Matilda had to leave London and fled to Winchester, accompanied by Gloucester, King David and some others. But Stephen’s wife, the other Matilda, had gathered an army of Stephen’s followers and Flemish mercenaries and laid siege to the town. When fighting broke out in the streets of Winchester, Empress Matilda and some of her entourage broke through (September 1141). Mathilda made it to safety in Devizes. John Marshal escaped from a burning tower, badly wounded. Robert of Gloucester who covered the retreat was captured. Ranulf of Chester escaped as well. David made his way to Scotland; he was captured but bribed the men (I told you he must have a had a silver tongue talking his way out of predicaments, and these newly minted coins proabably helped, too) and galloped through hostile territory all the way to Durham where his chancellor William Comyn held the castle (see below).

After months of negotiations, the captured Robert of Gloucester was exchanged for King Stephen. Neither was Matilda willing to make any concessions to Stephen, nor Robert to buy his freedom with a shift of allegiances. So the civil war would continue for another 12 years though it was a stalemate with little military action after the first flurry of activity following Stephen’s release. Matilda moved to her stronghold at Oxford which was besieged by King Stephen in December 1141. Matilda escaped across the frozen moat covered in a white cloak, and retreated to Wallingford.

Matilda’s son Henry, the future Henry II of England who lived with his father Geoffrey of Anjou in Normandy, showed signs of independence already at the age of 14. He came to England with some household knights and a band of mercenaries in 1147. But he couldn’t pay his mercenaries nor buy passage back to Normany, and Matilda refused to give him any money since he had not asked her permsission for the adventure. In the end it was Stephen who helped the lad out of his predicament. That’s pretty much Stephen, I think; he liked to be courteous and generous.

Robert died in 1147, other supporters of Matilda joined the second crusade, and in 1148 Matilda herself returned to Normandy.

The town walls of Chester

Ranulf Earl of Chester changed his allegiance back to King Stephen again in late 1145. He must have gotten a knot in his cloak, turning it so often. I suppose he realized that Matilda could not help him getting Carlisle back and he may have hoped that Stephen was angry with King David and would further Ranulf’s claim. Stephen had taken away the Huntingdon fief from Earl Henry and given it to Henry’s half-brother Simon de Senlis, though it would turn out that Stephen stayed well out of the north and let David and Henry keep the Cumbrian and Northumbrian lands.

The following events are a bit murky, but it seems that Stephen began to mistrust Ranulf – several of his barons certainly did not like the man or doubted his motives – and under a pretext had Ranulf imprisoned in chains. They came to an agreement again in August 1146 where Ranulf had to give hostages and render his castles, including Lincoln. Of course, Ranulf rebelled as soon as the dungeon door opened. Stephen managed to prevent him from taking some important castles in south-west England, though the earl still controlled most of the north-west of England bordering Wales.

At this point, Ranulf looked elsewhere for assistance and met with his old enemy, King David of Scots in May 1149.

(Left: York Cathedral, south transept.)

We have to go back in time a bit. One of David’s goals was the control of the bishopric of Durham and preferably the archbishopric of York as well, especialy since there still was the open question of the submission of Scottish bishops to York. Sor far, the bishops of St.Andrews and Glasgow had managed to escape such an oath. John's successor to the see of Glasgow, Herbert, was consecrated by Pope Eugenius III in August 1147, circumventing the involvement of York.

Archbishop Thurstan of York, David's nemesis for years, had died in early 1140. David wanted to get the position for his stepson Waltheof (the brother of Simon de Senlis, from the first marriage of his late wife Matilda; 3), but King Stephen, fearing further increase of David's power, put forth a candidate of his own: William fitzHerbert, one of his nephews. But the diocese didn't want him, and then Stephen was captured and the see remained unoccupied.

The see of Durham had fallen vacant in 1140 as well, and here David wanted to get the job for his chancellor William Comyn. The relationship with Durham had always been uneasy, and having his own man there would solve a bunch of problems. But the chapter did not want William. So Comyn controlled the bishop's castle and the town, but there was no way to get him elected by the chapter without interference of a higher authority. The papal legate, Henri of Blois, would be such a man, and David had negotiations with him during his time at Matilda's court. William Comyn had accompagnied him; he too escaped the route of Winchester.

When it became clear that Matilda would not be queen and Henri of Blois' alliances were more on Stephen's side, David for once did not try to push matters and accepted the chapter's candidate, William de St.Barbe in 1143, despite him bein a former dean of York. In the end, both town and bishop were quite happy with the outcome and supported David.

In 1143, William fitzHerbert was finally consecrated as archbishop of York, but that didn't put an end to his troubles with the diocese who began to look to David for assisstance. We've seen that David got along pretty well with Pope Eugenius who in turn didn't like William fitzHerbert (though my reference books don't give a clear reason for that dislike). Eugenius replaced William with another Henry just to confuse my readers: Henry Murdac, bishop of Fountains. King Stephen was of course furious about the papal intervention and refused to recognise Henry. David on the other hand had cultivated a friendship with Henry Murdac who was present at David's court at Carlisle in May 1149.

Carlisle Castle

The meeting at Carlisle not only included King David, his son Earl Henry, Henry Murdac and Ranulf of Chester, but also Matilda's son Henry of Anjou who seemed to like getting away from Normandy and having fun in England instead. David held a lavish ceremony and knighted his great nephew. Henry of Anjou in turn promised that he would recognise Scottish possession of Newcastle and all of Northumbria, should he become king. Well, at the time, with Stephen's position again secure, the likely next king of England would be his son Eustace, so Henry didn't give away much. He woud regret - and go back on - that promise later.

But that was only the festival part of the meeting, more important - albeit I bet getting knighted was pretty important for Henry - were the politics. An agreement was reached with Ranulf Earl of Chester who got lands in Lancastershire and the promise of marriage to one of Earl Henry's daughters in exchange for giving up his claim on Carlise and - according to John of Hexham - paying homage to David. That would effectively have cut any feudal bonds with King Stephen and confirmed David's position as king not only of Scots but of the lands as far south as the Ribble and Tyne.

Stephen still barred Henry Murdac from taking up the see in York, despite the support from the pope and the Yorkshire Cistercians, so David and Ranulf decided on a military intervention on his behalf. A success would have made York a Scottish archdiocese, and would have given Ranulf a base to regain his lands around Lincoln. Led by King David and Henry of Anjou, an army of Anglo-Scottish nobles and men would come down from Carlisle while Ranulf's host marched along the Pennines.

But Stephen got wind of the plans and installed a new garrison in York. David knew he could not take the fortified town (he may have learned from the long siege of Wark Castle), disbanded his army and returned to Carlisle. But Stephen was in no position to push further north, either, and withdrew southwards. Henry of Anjou escaped an ambush by Stephen's son Eustace with the help of Ranulf who created a diversion by an attack on Lincoln, and fled southward and back to Normandy Maybe the third time would be the charm, lol.

Stephen finally admittend Henry Murdac to his see in 1151. David at least got an candidate on the see he could work with, but lacking immediate control of the town meant that a Scottish archbishopric was out of question; York remained English.

York, the old town with the towers of the Minster

The death of his nephew William fitz Duncan in 1147 must have been a blow for David. He lost not only a dear relative but also a stout supporter who held a central role in the net of feudal alliances woven in Northumbria and Cumbria. Williams death is not documented, but he disappears from signing chartes at the time. His wife Alice de Rumilly was still alive in 1151 when she founded a church. William fitz Duncan was succeeded by his son, another William. There were three daughters as well, but all children were still very young.

There was a brief episode of a rebellion by one Wimund who clamied he was a son of the 'earl of Moray' (which could have meant William fitz Duncan) and deprived of his rights by King David. He seems to have held a clerical position in Skye and managed to gather a warband of disgruntled second sons. The whole episode is badly documented and garbled, so I spare you the details. Wimund ended his days blinded and castrated in Byland Abbey, and the west remained in David's power.

Problems also arose in Caithness / Orkney. I'll refer to these briefly here, because as I've said, Orkney will get its own series of posts. The son of David's kinsman Maddad of Atholl and Margaret of Orkney, Harald Maddadson, had been appointed Earl of Caithness and part of Orkney (the other part was held by Rognvald for the Norwegian crown) in 1139. The boy was five years old at the time and thus in need of guardians, and one can count it as success for David to have the boy accepted in favour of other, adult, candidates, including Rognvald who may have claimed all of Orkney if not for internecine strifes.

With a power balance established, Rognvald went on a pilgrimage. That turned out to be a mistake because the King of Norway, Eystein II, sailed over with a fleet and captured young Harald Maddadson at Thurso in 1151. Harald had to acknowledge Norwegian overlordship to gain his freedom. Eystein went on a raiding trip along the Scottish east coast before he returned home.

David decided to now back the claim of Erlend Haraldsson, another descendant of Thorfinn the Mighty who established a veritable dynasty in Orkney. David granted Erlend half of Caithness as fief. But King Eystein responded by granting him Harald Maddadson's part of Orkney, and thus a three sided conflict between Rognvald, Harald Maddadson, and Erlend Haraldsson arose that only ended with Harald killing Erlend in 1154. Harald would keep causing trouble for David's grandsons.

Birsay / Orkney, view from the Norse settlement

David was now a very old man by the standard of his time. He had secured a realm that extended farther than when he first became King of Scots. Lands held of the English crown in 1141 had become an integral part of his kingdom in 1149, and the inclusion of the Anglo-Norman nobility who intermarried with the leading Scottish families and often held land in both parts, brought an increasing Norman influence in culture and law. Fringe parts like the Western Isles and Orkney with their Gaelic-Scandinavian culture we no longer a threat, but often acted as allies (Fergus of Galloway and, to some extent, Somarled of the Isles). David had founded monasteries and churches and invited clerics from the continent, built and expanded castles in the motte and bailey style, improved the infrastucture and set up a system of coinage. He also introduced the Norman feudal structures at least in the southern part of Scotland proper. In short, he elevated the backwater kingdom of Scots to a major player in Europe, thus fulfilling what Malcolm Canmore had started with his marriage to Margaret of Wessex.

After years spent mostly in the south due to the problems with King Stephen, David after the settlements in 1149 finally was able to move north again, and in May 1150, he can be found in Moray; in June, in Dunfermline where he held a grand assembly; and the following year in Aberdeen. A number of names of great magnates and churchmen in the king's entourage come up reguarly during these months: the bishops of Dunkeld, St.Andrews, Aberdeen and Caithness; the abbots of Holyrood and Kelso; the earls of Fife, Atholl, Buchan, Mar and Angus - most of them of Celtic ancestry. It is a different circle from the southern one with men like the Bishops of Glasgow and Carlisle, or Eustace fitz John, the Umfravilles, Morville, Balliol, Bruce and others, though there were contacts between both groups, of course.

The river Tay near Dunkeld, the ancient centre of Scotland

But David's hope for a strong Scotland in the boundaries he had set got a serious drawback when he received news that his son Henry had died in Roxburgh or Newcastle in June 1152. He'd been only 38 years old and a strong and active man (see his conduct at the Battle of the Standard), though his health may have detoriated in the last years. There is a passage in Bernhard of Clairveaux' Vita of Malachy where Malachy is said to have cured Earl Henry of a severe malady in Carlise in the 1140ies. This could be a fact, but also one of those wondrous cures always ascribed to saints. There is no sign that David thought he might lose his son and successor so early.

Henry had three sons, so the succession was not in immediate danger. But the boys were still young, Malcolm 11, William 9 and David 8. There were two main problems: the feudal net in the south, bound to the adult Henry, did not work as well with a child not old enough to enter lord/vassal relationships on a personal basis; and in Scotland proper, primogeniture was not yet so safely established that no other claimant to the throne might see a chance.

David did what he could to prevent a crisis to come after his death. He named Malcolm (later known as Malcolm IV the Maiden) as successor, and Donnchad mormaor of Fife, one of his oldest and most trusted Celto-Scottish vassals, as regent. He sent Malcolm and Donnchad on a tour through Scotland proper - accompagnied by a number of retainers that looked suspiciously like an army *wink* - to have Malcolm acknowledged as heir by his subjects. Then David personally accompagnied his second son, the future Earl of Northumberland, to Newcastle to take the oaths of his Northumbrian barons. John of Hexham mentions that David took hostages which shows that the peace in this part of his realm was a more fragile one than Oram describes (4).

(left: Dunfermline Abbey)

David's health began to detoriate in spring 1153, and on May 29, he died in his bed in the castle tower of Carlisle, aged 69. He was buried in Dunfermline Abbey.

The Irish Annals of Tigernach called him: Dabíd mac Mail Colaim, rí Alban & Saxan (David son of Malcolm King of Scotland and England). Eulogists like Ailred of Rievaulx mention David as pious and just king who brought the 'barbarian' Scots into the fold of civilization (5).

In August 1153, Stephen's son and successor, Eustace, died. Stephen agreed to the Treaty of Wallingford which would allow him to keep the throne until his death, while he recognised Matilda's son Henry of Anjou as heir. King Stephen died in October, and Henry succeeded him as Henry II of England. Malcolm IV of Scotland would lose most of the southern lands his father had won to Henry. His brother William the Lion did not succeed in winning back Northumbria either; it remained an English possession.


Footnotes
1) One of the knights captured with him was the young Roger de Mowbray who had earned his spurs at the Battle of the Standard
2) His agreements were never a feudal relationship; that was all between Stephen and Henry, but only that vague oath to keep the peace. David was a sneaky politician, but no oathbreaker.
3) What I find interesting is that David obviously got along well enough with Waltheof to want him in such an important position, while his relationship with Simon, who alway benefited from Earl Henry's losses during the Civil War, was likely more than a bit strained.
4) Oram, David the King, pages 177ff.
5) There is, of course, a lot of Latin topoi in those eulogies, and among them, bringing civilization to 'barbarians' was a popular one.

Sources
Frank Barlow: The Feudal Kingdom of England 1042-1216. 5th edition, Edinburgh 1999
Robert Bartlett: England Under the Norman and Angevin Kings 1075-1225. 5th edition, Oxford University Press, 2003
Richard Oram: David, The King Who Made Scotland. Tempus Publishing Ltd, 2004
Richard Oram: Domination and Lordship, Scotland 1070-1230. The New Edinburgh History of Scotland, Edinburgh 2011
Ailred of Rievaulx: The Historical Works, translated by J.P. Freeland, edited by M.L. Dutton. Cistercian Publications 56, 2005
William P.L. Thomson: The New History of Orkney. Glasgow 1987, 4th edition 2008
Ian W. Walker: Lords of Alba, The Making of Scotland. Sutton Publishing, 2006
 
Comments:
Great posts, really informative, with your usual fab pics ;)
 
That was an interesting read, thank you.
Carlisle Castle looks a bit formidable....
 
Gabriele, I do agree: David must have had a silver tongue plus condiserable political acumen. I can remember how I discovered that he had a great sense of humour, too, in stark comparison to his demure sister, Henry I's consort, Edith-Matilda. There is a much telling anecdote about the two which shows how different they were, but I can't remember the source now. Perhaps you have come across it when researching this post. If my memory serves me, Matilda was washing the feet of the poor, when David paid a vsit to her, and the two had a little "chat" or rather "view-exchange" over the issue of aforementioned washing... Wish I could recall the details now,a nd the source. Henry of Huntingdon, but I'm not sure...

Anyway, great post. All the facts and info included have made my head go spinning :-)
 
Frank Barlow - reminds me of my Uni days:). Enjoyed this post. I do know a little about Matilda and Stephen's struggle. I see David, after initial support, tired of Matilda. Her brother Robert has a fine tomb - took a photo of it on my travels.
 
And yes, I love our little history blog group:)
 
Thank you, Kathryn.

Constanc, you'd need a very big trebouchet to conquer Carlisle. :)

Anerje, pretty much everyone except Robert of Gloucester seems to have tired of her.

Kasia, I remember the anecdote. I think David was a pious man - he founded his share of monasteries and churches - but too practical to spend time on feet washing and such.
 
I remember that his sis preached at him and he just laughed in reply... and thus won my heart imstantly :-)
 
As for Matilda, I'coming to her defence- she must have filled many of the nobles with admiration- grudging and reluctant, but still :-) And even if she failed on personal level, she did win that war, didn't she? :-)
 
Kasia, in the obituary by Ailred David is just one step away from sainthood, so that little lapse seems to have been forgotten. ;-) As have half a dozen wars started with dubious reasons. In most of the Mediaeval portraits David is the pious, patriarchical king who first brought Scotland to greatness.

Matilda - to quote that smith from ASOIAF who said Stannis was iron who would not bend but break. Well, Stannis is still alive so far and that's more than can be said for a number of Martin's characters, as well as Matilda. :-)
 
Yep, David was the first to rule over the incredibly vast land that Scotland became under his rule. So sad it did not last. Poor Malcolm... He had no chance facing the opponent as formidable as Henry fitz Empress, didn't he? Although he wasn't really such a "maiden" as he is thought to be :-D (I mean his knightly prowess, for his celibacy was a fact, as I read in R.Oram's Kings of Scotland).
 
I love the Stannis comparison :-)Although I would say that Matilda didn't break, but bended a little bit in the end on behalf of her eldest son :-) And it was the wisest thing she could do under the circumstances.
 
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The Lost Fort is a travel journal and history blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places. It includes essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, as well as some geology, illustrated with photos of old castles and churches, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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