David I of Scotland

David I
David I

King David I (or Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim; also known as Saint David I or David I "the Saint") (1084May 24, 1153), was King of Scotland from 1124 until his death, and the youngest son of Malcolm Canmore and of Saint Margaret (sister of Edgar Ætheling). He married Matilda, daughter and heiress of Waltheof, Earl of Northumbria, in 1113 and thus gained possession of the earldom of Huntingdon.

On the death of King Edgar in 1107, the territories of the Scottish crown were divided in accordance with the terms of his will between his two brothers, Alexander and David. Alexander, together with the crown, received Scotland north of the Rivers Forth and Clyde, David the southern district with the title of Earl of Cumberland. The death of Alexander in 1124 gave David possession of the whole starting on 27 April of that year.

In 1127, in the character of an English baron, he swore fealty to Matilda as heiress to her father Henry I, and when the usurper Stephen ousted her in 1135 David vindicated her cause in arms and invaded the Kingdom of England. But Stephen marched north with a great army, whereupon David made peace. The peace, however, was not kept. After threatening an invasion in 1137, David marched into England in 1138, but sustained a minor defeat on Cutton Moor in the engagement known as the Battle of the Standard.

He returned to Carlisle, and soon afterwards concluded peace. In 1141 he joined Matilda in London and accompanied her to Winchester, but after a narrow escape from capture he returned to Scotland. Henceforth he remained in his own kingdom and devoted himself to its political and ecclesiastical reorganization. A devoted son of the church, he founded five bishoprics and many monasteries. In secular politics he energetically forwarded the process of feudalization and anglicisation which his immediate predecessors had initiated. He died at Carlisle. David I is recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a Saint, although he was never formally canonized.

He had two sons, Malcolm (not to be confused with Malcolm IV of Scotland, this Malcolm's nephew) and Henry and two daughters, Claricia and Hodierna.

Richard Oram's biography

In 2004, British historian Richard Oram released the first modern biography of David I, called David I: The King Who Made Scotland, in which he argues that David I modernized the Kingdom of Scotland, formulated a national legal code, introduced native currency, founded the main cities, reformed the church and established monasteries. Dr Oram says

"David was the king who effectively created the kingdom of Scotland as we would now recognise it . . . Wallace and Bruce are seen as the 'liberators', the patriotic heroes who rescued Scotland from the tyranny of foreign oppression or so the conventional propaganda would have it. Both were the subject of epic poems which, whatever their historical merit, fixed them eternally in the popular mind as the towering personalities of medieval Scotland. David, despite his successes in projecting Scottish royal power further than any of his predecessors and extending it more effectively than any of his successors before the fifteenth century, did not have a similar propagandist. In post-Reformation Scotland, he was simply too Catholic for the taste of some historians."

Richard Oram's thesis is somewhat controversial. Earlier and later monarchs of Scots can be claimed to have established national legal codes, cities and established monasteries. David's attention was often focused southwards, and had Carlisle as one of his main royal seats.


Preceded by:
Alexander I
King of Scots
Succeeded by:
Malcolm IV
Monarchs of Scotland (Alba)
Traditional Kings of Picts: (Legendary Kings) | Drest of the 100 Battles | Talorc I | Nechtan I | Drest II | Galan | Drest III | Drest IV | Gartnait I | Cailtram | Talorc II | Drest V | Galam Cennalath | Bruide I | Gartnait II | Nechtan II | Cinioch | Gartnait III | Bruide II | Talorc III | Talorgan I | Gartnait IV | Drest VI | Bruide III | Taran | Bruide IV | Nechtan IV | Drest VII | Alpín I | Óengus I | Bruide V | Cináed II | Alpín II | Talorgan II | Drest VIII | Conall | Caustantín | Óengus II | Drest IX | Eogán | Ferat | Bruide VI | Cináed II | Bruide VII | Drest X
Traditional Kings of Scots: Cináed I | Domnall I | Causantín I | Áed | Eochaid | Giric | Domnall II | Causantín II | Máel Coluim I | Idulb | Dub | Cuilén | Cináed II | Amlaíb | Cináed II | Causantín III | Cináed III | Máel Coluim II | Donnchad I | Mac Bethad | Lulach | Máel Coluim III | Domnall III Bán | Donnchad II | Domnall III Bán | Edgar | Alexander I | David I | Máel Coluim IV | William I | Alexander II | Alexander III | First Interregnum | John | Second Interregnum | Robert I | David II | Edward | David II | Robert II | Robert III | James I | James II | James III | James IV | James V | Mary I | James VI* | Charles I* | The Covenanters | The Protectorate | Charles II* | James VII* | Mary II* | William II* | Anne*
* Also Monarch of Ireland and England

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