On this day, 4 December, in the Year of Our Lord 1214, William I “The Lion” of Scotland, passed away. William I was my two-times 25th great-grandfather through his illegitimate daughter Isabella mac William. He was also the brother of David of Scotland (my two-times 26th great-grandfather), making William I my 27th great-uncle twice over, as well.
William was a headstrong, powerfully built redhead. He was the grandson of David I of Scotland (my 28th great-grandfather) and the son of Henry of Scotland and Ada de Warenne (my 27th great-grandparents).
In 1152, William inherited the title of Earl of Northumbria from his father. However, in 1157, he was forced to give up this title to Henry II Plantagenet, King of England (my 26th great-grandfather through his daughter Eleanor of England, my 25th great-grandfather through his son John “Lackland” of England, and my 25th great-grandfather through his son William “Longespée”.)
Following the death of William and David’s elder brother King Malcolm IV on 9 December 1165, William became king and was crowned on Christmas Eve 1165. After William I became king, he spent much time and effort trying to regain Northumbria.
In 1173 and 1174, William and others revolted against Henry II. In 1174, at the Battle of Alnwick, William decided to charge the English troops himself. He was unhorsed, captured by Henry’s troops, and taken to Falaise, Normandy. Henry then sent an army to occupy Scotland. To regain his kingdom, William was compelled to sign the Treaty of Falaise, acknowledging Henry as William’s feudal superior and agreeing to pay for the cost of the English army’s occupation of Scotland through taxation of the Scottish denizens. In addition, the church of Scotland was placed under the jurisdiction of the English church. Only after these concessions were made was William permitted to return to Scotland in 1175.
The humiliation of the Treaty of Falaise sparked a revolt in Galloway, lasting until 1186 and prompting the construction of Dumfries Castle. Meanwhile, in 1179, William and his brother David led a force to Easter Ross, establishing two more castles in the hopes of discouraging the Norse Earls of Orkney from expanding beyond Caithness.
For the next 15 years, the Treaty of Falaise was enforced. However, on 5 December 1189, King Richard “Lionheart” of England, needing money for the Third Crusade, terminated the treaty in return of a payment of 10,000 silver marks.
Despite the Scots regaining their independence, relations between England and Scotland remained tense. In 1194, William attempted to purchase Northumbria from Richard; however, William’s offer of 15,000 silver marks was rejected. Then, in August 1209, King John “Lackland” of England (my 24th great-grandfather) strong-armed William into agreeing to marry his elder daughters to English nobles. In 1212, John then secured the hand of William’s only surviving legitimate son and heir, Alexander, for his eldest daughter, Joan.
On 4 December 1214, William I died in Stirling and is buried in Arbroath Abbey, which he had founded in 1178.