King David I of Scotland was one of the country's foremost monarchs, born c1080, and reigning from 1124 to 1153. He brought reforms to the church and economy, and extended Scotland's territory into Northumbria. His reign left Scotland a wealthier, larger country, but his successors failed to hold on to his territorial gains.
Ingeborg m Malcolm III Canmore m Margaret Donald III
| (r1058-93) | (1093-4,1094-7)
| | | |
Duncan II Edgar Alexander I David I
(1094) (1097-1107) (1107-24) (1124-53)
Henry, Earl of Huntingdon
David was Malcolm III (Canmore)'s youngest son, and received a Norman education in England. His sister married Henry I in 1100 and David's loyal service was rewarded when he himself married Matilda, daughter of the earl of Northumbria and widow of the earl of Northampton. David became earl of Huntingdon as a result of the marriage.
His eldest brother Edgar died without heir in 1107, and Alexander I became king with his brother David as his heir. David was given control of Strathclyde, Tweeddale, and Teviotdale; southern Scotland would remain his power base throughout his reign. Here he began his ecclesiastical reforms, appointing a bishop for Glasgow, and introducing Tironsenian monks to Selkirk. David acceded to the Scottish throne in 1124, and further reforms favoured the Cistercian and Augustinian orders. He created feudal lordships for his friends and dependants, including famous families like the Bruces, Balliols, and FitzAlans.
Opposition to his rule came from Alexander I's illegitimate son Malcolm, and the earls of Moray and Ross. Angus, earl of Moray, led a rising in 1130, and Malcolm mac Heth, claimant to Ross, was captured in 1134. David needed to impose his authority on the north, and built royal castles and burghs between Aberdeen and Inverness, reorganising or founding bishoprics in Aberdeen, Moray, Ross and Caithness. David also worked with the lords of the south and centre of his kingdom, and by 1136 was in almost total command of mainland Scotland.
The English king Henry I had died in the winter of 1135, and a contest for the English throne had begun between his daughter Matilda and her cousin, Stephen. David marched south, intent on consolidating his claims on Northumbria. He had aligned himself with Matilda, but treated with Stephen when the kings met at Durham. It was agreed that David would keep Carlisle, and that his son Henry would be granted the earldom of Northumbria. Stephen failed to fulfil his promise regarding Henry, however, and David again marched south.
Thurstan, the Archbishop of York, met his army at Northallerton and defeated him at the Battle of the Standard in 1138. David consolidated his gains, however, and Stephen again granted Northumbria to Henry and allowed David to keep his gains.
David died in 1153, a year after his son Henry, who left three young boys as his heirs, the eldest only twelve years old.
David's other achievements included the introduction of Scottish coinage and the development of burghs with rights to trade and taxation. Following his death, however, many of his territorial gains would disappear, although his legacy of economic and social reform would remain.
The Oxford Companion to Scottish History, ed. Michael Lynch, Oxford University Press, 2001