William I of Scotland

Infobox Monarch
name = William I
title = King of Scots

reign = 9 December, 11654 December, 1214
coronation =
predecessor = Malcolm IV
successor = Alexander II
consort = Ermengarde de Beaumont
issue = Margaret, Isabella, Alexander II, Marjorie
royal house = Dunkeld
royal anthem =
father = Henry of Scotland
mother = Ada de Warenne
date of birth = About 1142
place of birth =
date of death = death date|1214|12|4|df=y
place of death = Stirling
place of burial= Arbroath Abbey

William I (Mediaeval Gaelic: "Uilliam mac Eanric"; Modern Gaelic: "Uilleam mac Eanraig"), known as the Lion or Garbh, "the Rough", "Uilleam Garbh"; e.g. Annals of Ulster, s.a. 1214.6; Annals of Loch Cé, s.a. 1213.10.] (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 is credited with founding 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 title "Lion" was 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 fleury counter-fleury' border) went on to become the Royal standard of Scotland, still used today but quartered with those of England and of Ireland. It became attached to him because the chronicler Fordun called him the "Lion of Justice".

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, 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. 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 York Castle.

The Treaty of Falaise remained in force for the next fifteen years. Then Richard the Lionheart, needing money to take part in the Third Crusade, agreed to terminate it in return for 10,000 silver marks.

Marriage and death

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 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.
# Isabella (1195–1253), married Roger Bigod, 4th Earl of Norfolk.
# Alexander II of Scotland (1198–1249).
# Marjorie (1200–44), 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, reigning from 1214 to 1250.


Curiously William is recorded in 1206 as having cured a case of Scrofula by his touching and blessing a child with the ailment whilst at York.Dalrymple, Sir David (1776). Annals of Scotland. Pub. J. Murray. London. P. 300 -301.]



*Ashley, Mike. "Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens", 1998
*Magnusson, Magnus. Scotland: Story of a Nation, 2001

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