William the Lion
William the Lion (Mediaeval Gaelic: Uilliam mac Eanric (i.e. William,
son of Henry); Modern Gaelic: Uilleam mac Eanraig), sometimes styled
William I, also known by the nickname Garbh, "the Rough", (c. 1143
– 4 December 1214) reigned as
King of the Scots
King of the Scots from 1165 to 1214.
He had the second-longest reign in
Scottish history before the Act of
England in 1707. James VI (reigned 1567–1625) would have
2 Marriage and issue
3 Fictional portrayals
7 External links
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
Northumbria from the Normans.
Traditionally, William is credited with founding Arbroath Abbey, the
site of the later Declaration of Arbroath.
He was not known as "The Lion" during his own lifetime, and the title
did not relate to his tenacious character or his military prowess. It
was attached to him because of his flag or standard, a red lion
rampant with a forked tail (queue fourchée) on a yellow background.
This (with the substitution of a 'double tressure fleury
counter-fleury' border instead of an orle) went on to become the Royal
Banner of Scotland, still used today but quartered with those of
England and of Ireland. It became attached to him because the
John of Fordun called him the "Lion of Justice".
William was grandson of David I of Scotland. He also inherited the
title of Earl of
Northumbria in 1152 from his father, Henry of
Scotland. 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 player in the
Revolt of 1173–74
Revolt of 1173–74 against Henry II.
In 1174, at the Battle of Alnwick, 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 led by
Ranulf de Glanvill and
taken in chains to Newcastle, then 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. The
cost was equal to 40,000 Scottish Merks. The church of Scotland was
also subjected to that of England. This he did by signing the Treaty
of Falaise. He was then allowed to return to Scotland. In 1175 he
swore fealty to Henry II at
The humiliation of the
Treaty of Falaise triggered a revolt in
Galloway which lasted until 1186, and prompted construction of a
castle at Dumfries. In 1179, meanwhile, William and his brother David
personally led a force northwards into Easter Ross, establishing two
further castles, north of the Beauly and
Cromarty Firths; one on
Black Isle at Ederdour; and the other at Dunkeath, near the mouth
Cromarty Firth opposite Cromarty. The aim was to discourage
Earls of Orkney
Earls of Orkney from expanding beyond Caithness.
A further rising in 1181 involved Donald Meic Uilleim, descendant of
King Duncan II. Donald briefly took over Ross; not until his death
(1187) was William able to reclaim Donald's stronghold of Inverness.
Further royal expeditions were required in 1197 and 1202 to fully
neutralise the Orcadian threat.
Treaty of Falaise remained in force for the next fifteen years.
Then the English king Richard the Lionheart, needing money to take
part in the Third Crusade, agreed to terminate it in return for 10,000
silver marks, on 5 December 1189.
William attempted to purchase
Northumbria from Richard in 1194, as he
had a strong claim over it. However, his offer of 15,000 marks was
rejected due to wanting the castles within the lands, which Richard
was not willing to give.
Despite the Scots regaining their independence, Anglo-Scottish
relations remained tense during the first decade of the 13th century.
In August 1209 King John decided to flex the English muscles by
marching a large army to Norham (near Berwick), in order to exploit
the flagging leadership of the ageing Scottish monarch. As well as
promising a large sum of money, the ailing William agreed to his elder
daughters marrying English nobles and, when the treaty was renewed in
1212, John apparently gained the hand of William's only surviving
legitimate son, and heir, Alexander, for his eldest daughter, Joan.
Despite continued dependence on English goodwill, William's reign
showed much achievement. He threw himself into government with energy
and diligently followed the lines laid down by his grandfather, David
I. Anglo-French settlements and feudalization were extended, new
burghs founded, criminal law clarified, the responsibilities of
justices and sheriffs widened, and trade grew.
Arbroath Abbey was
founded (1178), and the bishopric of Argyll established (c.1192) in
the same year as papal confirmation of the Scottish church by Pope
According to legend, "William is recorded in 1206 as curing a case of
scrofula by his touching and blessing a child with the ailment whilst
at York". William died in
Stirling in 1214 and lies buried in
Arbroath Abbey. His son, Alexander II, succeeded him as king, reigning
from 1214 to 1249.
Marriage and issue
Due to the terms of the Treaty of Falaise, Henry II had the right to
choose William's bride. As a result, William married Ermengarde de
Beaumont, a great-granddaughter of King Henry I of England, at
Woodstock Palace in 1186.
Edinburgh Castle was her dowry. The marriage
was not very successful, and it was many years before she bore him an
heir. William and Ermengarde's children were:
Margaret (1193–1259), married Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent.
Isabel (1195–1253), married Roger Bigod, 4th Earl of Norfolk.
Alexander II of Scotland
Alexander II of Scotland (1198–1249).
Marjorie (1200 – 17 November 1244), married Gilbert Marshal, 4th
Earl of Pembroke.
Out of wedlock, William I had numerous children, their descendants
being among those who would lay claim to the Scottish crown.
By an unnamed daughter of Adam de Hythus:
Margaret, married Eustace de Vesci, Lord of Alnwick.
By Isabel d'Avenel:
Robert de London
Henry de Galightly, father of
Patrick Galithly one of the competitors
to the crown in 1291
Ada Fitzwilliam (c.1164–1200), married Patrick I, Earl of Dunbar
Aufrica, married William de Say, and whose grandson Roger de
Mandeville was one of the competitors to the crown in 1291
Isabella Mac William married
Robert III de Brus then Robert de Ros
(died 1227), Magna Carta Suretor
William I has been depicted in a historical fantasy novel. :
An Earthly Knight (2003) by Janet McNaughton. The novel is set in the
year 1162. William, younger brother and heir to Malcolm IV of
Scotland, is betrothed to Lady Jeanette "Jenny" Avenel. She is the
second daughter of a Norman nobleman and the marriage politically
advances her family. But she is romantically interested in Tam Lin, a
man enchanted by the Fairy Queen.
Ancestors of William the Lion
16. Duncan I of Scotland
8. Malcolm III of Scotland
4. David I of Scotland
18. Edward the Exile
9. Saint Margaret of Scotland
2. Henry, Earl of Northumbria
20. Siward, Earl of Northumbria
10. Waltheof II, Earl of Northumbria
21. Aelfflaed of Bernicia
5. Maud, Countess of Huntingdon
22. Lambert II, Count of Lens
11. Judith of Lens
23. Adelaide of Normandy
1. William I of Scotland
24. Rodulf II de Warenne
12. William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey
6. William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey
13. Gundred, Countess of Surrey
3. Ada de Warenne
28. Henry I of France
14. Hugh I of Vermandois
29. Anne of Kiev
7. Elizabeth of Vermandois
30. Herbert IV, Count of Vermandois
15. Adelaide, Countess of Vermandois
31. Adele of Valois
^ Uilleam Garbh; e.g. Annals of Ulster, s.a. 1214.6; Annals of Loch
Cé, s.a. 1213.10.
^ :Cardonnel, Adam de. Numismata scotiæ, or A series of the Scottish
coinage, from the reign of William The lion to the union. By Adam De
Cardonnel, member of the antiquarian society of Edinburgh. Edinburgh,
^ Matheson, Alister Farquhar (28 Aug 2014). Scotland's Northwest
Frontier: A Forgotten British Borderland. Troubador Publishing Ltd.
p. 19. ISBN 978-1-78306-442-7.
^ Crowl, Philip Axtell (1986). The intelligent traveller's guide to
historic Scotland. Congdon & Weed. p. 83.
^ Gillingham, John (2000). Richard. p. 272.
^ Rommel, Albert (2015). The Esoteric Codex: Sorcery (1st ed.).
lulu.com. p. 216. ISBN 978-1-312-92968-5. Retrieved 8 August
^ Scotland: The Making of the Kingdom, A.A.M. Duncan, p527
^ Saul, Nigel. "Eustace de Vesci". Magna Carta Trust. Retrieved 8 Aug
^ Scotland: The Making of the Kingdom, A.A.M. Duncan, p175
^ a b c Balfour Paul, Vol. I, p.5
^ Saul, Nigel. "Robert de Ros". Magna Carta Trust. Retrieved 8 August
^ "An Earthly Knight", description from the cover
^ "An Earthly Knight",Review by J. A. Kaszuba Locke
^ "An Earthly Knight",Review by Joan Marshall
Ashley, Mike. Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens. 1998.
Magnusson, Magnus. Scotland: Story of a Nation. 2001.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to William I of Scotland.
William the Lion
House of Dunkeld
Born: ? c. 1142 Died: 4 December 1214
King of Scots
Peerage of England
Henry of Scotland
Earl of Northumbria
Malcolm IV of Scotland
Earl of Huntingdon
Simon III of St Liz
Pictish and Scottish monarchs
Monarchs of the Picts
Monarchs of the Scots
Kenneth I MacAlpin
Constantine I (II)
Constantine II (III)
Constantine III (IV)
Malcolm III Canmore
William I the Lion
Robert the Bruce
Robert the Bruce (I)
1 also monarch of
England and Ireland.
ISNI: 0000 0000 3451 967X