William I of Scotland
William I "the Lion" ( known in Gaelic as Uilliam Garm1 or William the Rough), (1142/1143 - December 4, 1214) reigned as King of Scots from 1165 to 1214. His reign was the second longest in Scottish history before the Act of Union with England in 1707, (James VI's was the longest 1567-1625). He became King following his brother Malcolm IV's death on 9 December 1165 and was crowned on 24 December 1165.
In contrast to his deeply religious, frail brother, William was powerfully-built, redheaded, and headstrong. He was an effective monarch whose reign was marred by his ill-fated attempts to regain control of Northumbria from the English.
Traditionally, William founded Arbroath Abbey, the site of the later Declaration of Arbroath. Interestingly, he was not known as "The Lyon" during his own lifetime, and the sobriquet did not relate to his tenacious character or his military prowess. William adopted the use of the Lion Rampant by his right to do so under the law of Heraldry.
The "Lion" became attached to him because of his flag or standard, a red lion rampant (with a forked tail) on a yellow background. This (with the addition of a 'double tressure fluery counter-fluery' border) went on to become the Royal standard of Scotland; the British Monarch when in Scotland honors the display of Scotland's Royal Standard due to the fact they share a Common ancestor with the Scots. However, this common ancestor is not William the Lion, but William's Great Grandfather, King Malcolm III,who was also known as "Canmore" meaning "Great Head". He was the husband of Queen Saint Margaret,and also the Great Grandfather of English King Henry II. The rampant lion within the 2nd quarter of Great Britain's Royal arms represents their common ancestry with the Scots.
William also inherited the title of Earl of Northumbria in 1152. However he had to give up this title to King Henry II of England in 1157. This caused trouble after William became king, since he spent a lot of effort trying to regain Northumbria.
William was a key rebel in the Revolt of 1173-1174 against Henry II. In 1174, during a raid in support of the revolt, William recklessly charged the English troops himself, shouting, "Now we shall see which of us are good knights!" He was unhorsed and captured by Henry's troops and taken in chains to Northampton, and then transferred to Falaise in Normandy. Henry then sent an army to Scotland and occupied it. As ransom and to regain his kingdom, William had to acknowledge Henry as his feudal superior and agree to pay for the cost of the English army's occupation of Scotland by taxing the Scots. This he did by signing the Treaty of Falaise. He was then allowed to return to Scotland.
The Treaty of Falaise remained in force for the next fifteen years. At the end of that time the new English king, Richard the Lionheart, agreed to terminate it in return for 10,000 silver marks. Richard needed the money to take part in the Third Crusade.
Due to the terms of the Treaty of Falaise, Henry II had the right to choose William's bride. William was married to Ermengarde de Beaumont, a granddaughter of King Henry I of England, in 1186. Edinburgh Castle was her dowry. The marriage was not very successful, and it was many years before an heir, Alexander, was born. William and Ermengarde's children were:
- Margaret (1193-1259), married Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent.
- Isabella (1195-1253), married Roger Bigod, 4th Earl of Norfolk.
- Alexander II of Scotland (1198-1249), reigned 1214-1249.
- Marjorie (1200-1244), married Gilbert Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke.
William died in Stirling in 1214 and lies buried in Arbroath Abbey. His son, Alexander II, succeeded him as king.
1. = Uilleam Garbh; e.g. Annals of Ulster, s.a. 1214.6; Annals of Loch Cé, s.a. 1213.10
- Ashley, Mike. Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens, 1998
- Magnusson, Magnus. Scotland: Story of a Nation, 2001
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