The Lost Fort

My Travel and History Blog, Focussing mostly on Roman and Mediaeval Times


29 Aug 2014
  Another Welfen Castle - Heldenburg in Salzderhelden

The castle today known as Heldenburg was first mentioned in chartes in the early 14th century as castrum soltho der helden which means 'the castle at the place near saltworks on a slope' (1). Salt had been extracted in the area since the 13th century and maybe earlier, so the castle likely dates back to the 13th century and served to protect the saltworks. Its founders were either the Welfen dukes or the counts of Dassel, one of the leading families of the area who also may have built Grubenhagen Castle.

The history of the castle is more easily to trace from the time it came into possession of Heinrich Mirabilis (2) Duke of Braunschweig. He was a great-grandson of Heinrich the Lion and Matilda of England, daughter of Henry II. In for a bit more geneaology? *grin*

Castle Heldenburg at Salzderhelden

When Heinrich the Lion was banned in 1182, he lost his titles and all his lands. Upon his second return from exile in 1189, he regained the possessions inherited from his mother, Gertrud of Süpplingenburg, the only daughter of Emperor Lothar - which was a considerable chunk of lands in northern Germany - but not the lands of his father Heinrich the Proud in Bavaria. The status of the Welfen family was a bit of a limbo. They had lost their titles as Dukes of Saxony and Bavaria (3) but on the other hand they were more than mere local nobility, because they could still marry into royal families and stand as candidates for the kingship.

Heinrich had three sons: Heinrich Count Palatine by Rhine, Otto, and Wilhelm / William of Winchester who was born in England in April 1184 during his father's exile. Wilhelm stood in as hostage for Richard Lionheart in 1193, and he would later support his brother Otto, the only German emperor of the Welfen family, in his strife with the Staufen.

In the so-called Contract of Paderborn (May 1202) the alliodial possessions of the Welfen family were distributed between the brothers Heinrich, Otto and Wilhelm. Wilhelm got the lands around Lüneburg, calling himself Duke of Lüneburg. He died in 1213, leaving behind an underage son - Otto 'the Child' (born 1204) - with his wife Helena of Denmark, a daughter of King Valdemar I. But from this one boy the younger House Welfen descends.

Remains of the keep and the palas

Emperor Otto had died childless in 1218, and Count Heinrich lost his son and heir at a young age. So he decided to set up his nephew Otto, who never got rid of the nickname 'the Child' even when he was grown up, as heir for the entire Welfen allodial possessions. Since Heinrich had two married daughters who could claim the heritage for their offspring, he left some unhappy sons-in-law and future troubles behind when he died in 1227.

Otto also had problems with the town of Braunschweig (4) whose citizens would have preferred imperial immediacy, and with the bishop of Bremen. But Otto took up marriage negotiations with Margrave Albert II of Brandenburg from House Ascania, a former rival of the Welfen who now turned into a powerful ally and bullied the citizens of Braunschweig into submission. The date of the marriage to Mathilde of Brandenburg (for Kasia: her mother was Ełżbieta of Poland,) is not sure, it happened sometime between 1222 and 1227.

Heinrich the Lion's fall left a power vacuum in parts of northern Germany, esp. the lands he conquered from the Slavic tribes in Mecklenburg and Pomerania (5). The Danish kings pushed their power in these territories, which explains the marriage connections with the Welfen (6) that would support their claim. But since 1223, Valdemar II (a brother of Helena and thus an uncle by marriage to Otto) suffered some drawbacks, including captivity by the Count of Schwerin. After he was fred, he came back with an army, supported by Otto, but was defeated at the Battle of Bornhöved in July 1227 against an alliance of local nobles and towns of the Hanseatic Laegue. Otto was taken prisoner and was released only in 1229.

Curtain wall, remains on the side of the Princes' House

These tidbits don't have much to do with the castle at Salzderhelden, but they tie in with English history, so I've presented them in some detail. After his release from captivity, Otto traveled to England to establish a personal relationship with King Henry III. Those connections would pay off soon.

Emperor Friedrich II of Staufen had problems with his son, another Heinrich, and thus was interested in ending the still simmering feud with the Welfen. King Henry of England was one of the mediators in the negotiations. The alliances of Welfen / Plantagent and Staufen / Capetians had been broken by the marriage of Emperor Friedrich II to Isabella, a sister of King Henry III, in summer 1235, which started a new alliance of Staufen / Plantagenet.

The solution for the Welfen problem was presented at the diet in Mainz in August 1235, in attendance of most major nobles of the realm: Otto transfered his allodial possessions to Friedrich and by that to the realm (imperium); Friedrich added some more imperial lands and created a new duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg which he then gave to Otto "and his sons and daughters in permanent heritage" as Fahnenlehen (imperial fief; basically an allod). Otto now was a duke and prince of the realm, and the limbo of the Welfen status ended.

View to keep and palas from the Princes' House

Otto died in 1252. His sons Albrecht and Johann were supposed rule together, with Albrecht acting a regent for the young Johann (the other brothers took up a clerical career) but after Johann came of age, they could not manage a united rule, and the inheritance was split in 1269. Johann chose the lands around Lüneburg and Hannover (Older House Lüneburg) while Albrecht got the lands around Braunschweig and the area of Göttingen and Calenberg (Older House Braunschweig). The town of Braunschweig and the main seat of Dankwarderode as well as the cathedral St.Blasius were always shared by all branches of the family.

One of Otto's daughters, Elisabeth, married William Count of Holland who became German king by election after the House Staufen died out in 1252 (7), not least thanks to the support of the Welfen prince.

All heads of the Welfen branches from that time held the title of Duke of Braunschweig or Duke of Lüneburg, with the names for territoriies attached, until the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 when their lands and titles were replaced by the kingdom of Hannover (the former Lüneburg lines) and the duchy of Braunschweig.

Gate with the Welfen arms

Albrecht had a bunch of sons with his wife Adelaide of Montferrat, so after his death in 1279 the possessions were split again, when all sons not chosing a career in the Church had come of age (1290). The oldest, Heinrich, got the lands in the Solling, around Einbeck, and the south-western Harz (Herzberg, Osterode, Duderstadt) and founded the new duchy that would later be called Braunschweig-Grubenhagen, though at his time he was mostly known as Duke of Braunschweig zu Salzderhelden.

Another son called Albrecht 'the Fat' got the lands around Göttingen and Calenberg as well as Hannover, and took his seat in Ballerhus Castle in Göttingen (8). The third son Wilhelm, chose the lands of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, creating that line of the House. A fourth son, Lothar, would become Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights.

Heinrich again had several sons. Some of them had to look for a living elsewhere. One (Otto) became a condottiere in Italy, and eventually Prince of Tarent; another (Heinrich) married into the Greek nobility. But still the already small duchy had to be split further during the next generations. Often the dukes were obliged to pawn out land and castles in order to keep up a noble lifestyle. Compared to the branches of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and Lüneburg, they remained less important (9). The Grubenhagen line died out in 1596.

View to the Princes' House and the chapel

Duke Heinrich acquired the Heldenburg in 1291 and chose it as main residence. The situation of the castle near the saltworks and the town of Einbeck, famous for its beer, may have played a role in his decision. A great tournament was held in Salzderhelden in 1305, and some of the more splendid castle buildings like the Princes' House may date to Heinrich's time. He obviously spent more money than he should have, like so many nobles at the time. He also gifted land and money to chapters and monasteries; and he got involved in a few feuds.

Heinrich was pretty popular and received considerable support during the election of a successor to Rudolf of Habsburg as king of Germany, though in the end Adolf of Nassau won in 1291 (10). Maybe we'd have fared better with Heinrich of Braunschweig zu Salzderhelden. The landgraves of Thuringia would certainly think so.

Heinrich got the prestigious position of Count Palatine of Saxony instead. He was married to Agnes of Meissen, a daughter of Albrecht the Degenerate (1282) with whom he had several children. Heinrich died on the Heldenburg in 1322.

Another view to the chapel (right) and Princes' House (left)

Thanks to the frequent presence of the Princes of Braunschweig-Grubenhagen in the 14th and 15th centuries, the castle developed into a considerable structure for living and defense, with the great hall (palas), Princes' House and chapel surrounding the rectangular yard, as well as further living quarters, stables, kitchens, magazines, armory, archive and scribes' room. The castle was surrounded by a mighty curtain wall but I could not find out if there existed anything in the way of an outer bailey, though there are traces of a trench.

Today the lower part of the keep and the outer palas wall remain, as well as part of the Prince's House and the chapel, and one of the cellars. The location of the well is know but it's covered today.

The archive and scriptorium were neccesary because the dukes often held their courts of justice at the Heldenburg, negotiated contracts and other governmental acts. Interestingly, the castle also was the only mint outside a town in the duchy. Coinage was an important privilge; the coins from the Heldenburg had the inscription: monetanova salis Heldensis.

The dukes of Braunschweig-Grubenhagen had their family burial in the Chapter of St.Alexander in Einbeck, and members of the family held important positions there. Today only the church itself remains of the chapter; it's one of the largest Gothic stone churches in northern Germany. The second burial place was the church in Salzderhelden.

Great Hall, the outer wall that also served as curtain wall

Three of Heinrich Mirabilis' sons inherited the shared administration of the lands, but decided to split the territories (1324). The oldest, Heinrich, got the Eichsfeld which he pawned out to the archbishop of Mainz because he spent too much money traveling, and ended up in Greece for good (see above; maybe he liked the Greek wine better than the beer of Einbeck).

Ernst got the lands around Einbeck and Grubenhagen and took residence in the Heldenburg. But his younger brother died childless and Heinrich's offspring - if he had any; the sources are a bit garbled - never came to visit, so Ernst inherited the entire territory (minus the Eichsfeld) in 1351. He married Adelheid of Everstein, daughter of Count Heinrich II of Everstein (1335) and established one of several connections between the Welfen and the lords of Everstein-Polle.

One of Ernst's sisters, Adelheid-Irene had married Andronikos III Palaiologos, future Emperor of Byzantium, in 1318, which may have triggered Heinrich's interest in Greece. But Irene died already in 1324 with no surviving child, which may have saved the Byzantine emperors from a few sons named Heinrich. *grin*

Ernst I of Braunschweig-Grubenhagen had several children. He died in 1361 and was succeeded by his son Albrecht I.

Princes House, inside view

Albrecht I of Braunschweig-Grubenhagen, already co-regent with his father Ernst, took over the duchy in 1361 and resided in the Heldenburg. His brother Friedrich got some lands near Osterode and Herzberg.

Albrecht was a partron of arts and science, but he also got involved in several feuds. One was with Otto Count of Waldeck who had married a daughter of the Lüneburg dukes of the Welfen line, and his son Heinrich claimed his mother's heritage - unsuccesfully in the end, so there may have been some family aspect to Albrecht's involvement. He was captured at the battle of Arnoldshausen in 1361 and had to abjure all vengeance.

The other major feud Albrecht seems to have started. For one, he likely was unhappy that his uncle had given the Eichsfeld to the archbishop of Mainz and wanted to do something about it. Invading the land and destroying property was the usual way to go, and while Albrecht and his vassals were at it, they destroyed some villages on the territories of the landgraves of Thuringia as well, border reiver style. Landgrave Friedrich III 'the Strict' was not happy about that and threatened to bring the war to Albrecht's land. "I will be able to keep my castles and if it was raining landgraves," Albrecht said, refering to the fact the Friedrich co-ruled with his two brothers.

So Friedrich gathered an army of 18,000 man (11) and invaded the lands of Albrecht, laying siege to the Heldenburg (1365). His men built a wooden siege tower and labouriously rolled it toward the keep of the Heldenburg. But Albrecht fired a cannon shot that destroyed the tower and filled the men with such fear that they abandoned the siege. It is said this was the first time a cannon was heard in these lands (12). But the troops of the landrave destroyed enough of the smaller castles and villages on Albrecht's territories that he in the end made peace with Landgrave Friedrich.

A little tidbit aside. Friedrich would have more troubles with another Welfen ruler a few years later, our friend Otto the Quarrelsome.

Another view of the chapel

Albrecht was married to Agnes, a daughter of Duke Magnus Torquatus of Lüneburg (keep it in the Welfen family, heh) who died of the wounds he got in a fight with the Count of Everstein during the battle of Leveste, one of the battles fought in the Lüneburg succession wars (1373). You can see how the connections of local nobility thicken.

After Albrecht's death 1383, the only son Erich was under the guardianship of his uncle Friedrich until he came of age in 1402 and took his residence in the Heldenburg. He too, did not escape the feuds among nobles. Most notably is the one with the Counts of Hohnstein who had their main seat in the eastern Harz. The reigning count, Gunther, fell in the strive and his sons had to pay a ransom of 8,000 mark gold for their freedom (1415). For one, a feud turned out well for Braunschweig-Grubenhagen.

Erich married Elisabeth, the daughter of Otto the Quarrelsome of Braunschweig-Göttingen (before 1415). Two of their sons would succeed to the Braunschweig-Grubenhagen inheritance and live in the Heldenburg. Erich died 1427.

The chapel

I'll spare you a bunch of more Heinrichs, Erichs and Albrechts who lived in Salzderhelden in the 15th century, and who usually didn't get along with someone else somewhere. :-)

After another split of the lands in 1481, the main seat of the family branch was moved to Herzberg in the Harz foothills, the eastern part of the duchy; the Heldenburg in Salzderhelden became a widows' seat. When the Grubenhagen line died out, the castle came into possession of the Lüneburg-Celle line of the Welfen.

Judging by an engraving, the castle still looked pretty representative in 1654, with half timbered upper storeys and most curtain walls remaining, but it was only used sporadically in the 17th century. The last person to live there, the Chief Master of the Hunt von Moltke was executed in 1692. Afterwards the castle fell into decay. The ruins were preserved in 1983-88; in 1999 the keep was partly restored and a staircase added so one can access the roof.

The castle seen from the town

Footnotes
1) I have to rely primarily on online sources for this one, and there are contradictions between the dates. Obviously, the castle came into possession of Heinrich Mirabilis in 1292 but appears in chartes under the name castrum soltho only in 1320.
2) One website translates Mirabilis as 'The Odd', meaning he was a few fries short of a Happy Meal, but since the word Mirabilis is also used in context of Jesus in Medieaval texts, I think the translation of 'The Exalted' is more fitting.
3) Count Heinrich kept using the title 'Duke of Saxony' in documents, while the Staufen just called him 'Heinrich of Braunschweig'.
4) The Welfen held only some land inside the town where Castle Dankwarderode and the cathedral are, the rest was possession of the town resp. its citizens; a problem that can be found in other towns as well.
5) Basically the counties of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
6) A second marriage connection between both families was the one between Knut (Canute), a son of Valdemar I and Gertrud, the daughter from Heinrich the Lion's first marriage to Clementia of Zähringen. They had no offspring.
7) He was named counter-king already during the time of Friedrich II and was crowned in Aachen in 1248, but his actual power did not extend beyond the Rhineland at the time. He died in a fight against rebellious Frisian nobles in 1256 and was succeeded by Richard of Cornwall, a son of King John.
8) Not traces of this castle remain today since the town razed it when the Welfen rulers were kicked out with Otto the Quarrelsome.
9) A fate they shared with the Göttingen-Calenberg line, see the ongoing financial problems of Otto the Quarrelsome.
10) He's the one who got a lot of money from Edward I to fight in France, but used it for an unsuccessful war in Thuringia instead.
11) If the sources don't exaggerate the number which they are likely to have done.
12) It is called 'bussen' (Büchse, which is old fashioned for gun) but in the context surely means something larger if it destroyed a siege tower. In case of the siege of the Bramburg, it was a handheld cannon with a matchlock, but I doubt that would have destroyed a tower.

Literature
Bernd Schneidmüller, Die Welfen: Herrschaft und Erinnerung 819-1252, Stuttgart 2000
Wilfried Warsitzka, Die Thüringer Landgrafen. 2nd revised edition, Erfurt 2009
 


3 Aug 2014
  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
Edmund King: King Stephen. Yale English Monarchs. Yale University Press, 2010
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
 




The Lost Fort is a travel and history blog based on my journeys in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and central / eastern Europe. It includes virtual town and castle tours with a focus on history, museum visits, hiking tours, and essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, illustrated with my own photos.


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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 still hasn't got an Instagram account.
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Historical Ballads by Theodor Fontane
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Archibald Douglas
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Sir Walter Scott in Abbotsford
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Fossilized Ammonites
The Loket Meteorite


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