David I of Scotland
King David I (or Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim; also known as Saint David I or David I "the Saint") (1084 – May 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.
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.
- Richard Oram (2004), David I: The King Who Made Scotland, ISBN 075242825X , The first biography of King David I
- This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
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