David I of Scotland Biography

(King of Scotland from 1124 to 1153)

Born: 1084

Born In: Scotland

David I was a 12th century king who ruled over Scotland from 1124–1153. He was born as the youngest son of Malcolm III of Scotland and Margaret of Wessex, and in spite of being a prince his early life was fraught with difficulties. His father and a brother were killed during an invasion of Northumberland when David was a young boy and life dealt another blow to him when his mother expired shortly afterwards. His uncle Domnall Bán took over the kingdom of Scotland and sent David and his surviving brothers into exile. David, then went to live with brother-in-law, King Henry I of England. Years later, following several political upheavals in Scotland, David finally became the King of Scotland with the support of Henry I. His reign saw many social, political and religious changes take place in the country, and he is considered to be one of the most significant rulers to have ever ruled over the Kingdom of Scotland. Medieval Scotland underwent a radical change during his regime, leading modern scholars to term the changes which took place in Scotland while he was the king as ‘Davidian Revolution’. He was especially well-known for founding monasteries and for implementing the ideals of Gregorian Reform
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Dauíd mac Maíl Choluim

Died At Age: 69


Spouse/Ex-: Countess of Huntingdon, Maud

father: Malcolm III of Scotland

mother: Saint Margaret of Scotland

siblings: Alexander I of Scotland

children: Earl of Northumbria, Henry of Scotland

Emperors & Kings Scottish Men

Died on: May 24, 1153

place of death: Carlisle, England

Childhood & Early Life
David was born in 1083 as the youngest son of Malcolm III of Scotland through his second marriage to Queen Margaret. He was probably the eighth son of his father. His grandfather was King Duncan I.
His father and one of his brothers, Edward, were killed in 1093 during an invasion of Northumberland. Another tragedy befell the young boy when his mother too died shortly afterwards.
His uncle Domnall took over Scotland as the king and exiled David and his surviving brothers. He then went to live with his brother-in-law, King Henry I of England.
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Accession & Reign
In 1113 Henry I arranged David’s marriage to Matilda of Huntingdon, daughter and heiress of Waltheof, Earl of Northumbria. Through this marriage he acquired the English earldom of Huntingdon and obtained the control over several regions in that country.
David’s brother, Alexander I had become the king of Scots in 1107 and with the support of Henry I, David claimed his inheritance from his brother. He received new territories in southern Scotland which consisted of Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire, Berwickshire, Peeblesshire and Lanarkshire. In addition, he also gained the title ‘Princeps Cumbrensis’ (Prince of the Cumbrians).
He gained a lot more power and stature upon receiving his inheritance. Even though the details regarding David’s life after 1114 are obscure, it is believed that he spent much of his time in England and in Normandy.
His brother Alexander I of Scotland died in 1124. With backing from Henry I, David fought two fierce battles with Alexander's son Máel Coluim and defeated him. Following the victory, David was crowned King of Scotland.
King Henry I died on 1 December 1135 after a week of illness. Since he had no surviving legitimate sons, he had arranged his inheritance to pass to his daughter Empress Matilda. However upon his death, his nephew Stephen seized the throne.
David recognized Matilda as the legitimate heir to Henry and decided to war against King Stephen. He marched into northern England in late 1135 and by early 1136 had occupied the castles of Carlisle, Wark, Alnwick, Norham and Newcastle.
Even though the invasion of England was ostensibly in support of his niece Matilda, in effect David was actually trying to extend his own kingdom. In 1138 he was defeated at the Battle of the Standard. This defeat, however, could not keep him from campaigning further and ultimately he managed to secure a hold on a large part of northern England.
As a ruler, David I is regarded as someone who brought about significant socio-cultural and religious changes in Scotland. In fact, his reign was so culturally important that the term “Davidian Revolution” was assigned to the changes which took place in the Kingdom of Scotland during his reign.
He was undoubtedly one of medieval Scotland's greatest monastic patrons and helped in the foundation of several monasteries including Selkirk Abbey for the Tironensian Order, Melrose Abbey for the Cistercian Order, Newbattle Abbey in Midlothian, Kinloss Abbey in Moray, and Holmcultram Abbey in Cumberland.
David was also a great town builder and constructed several royal burghs—a type of administrative division, usually a town or a settlement. The first burgh he created was Berwick followed by other burghs including Edinburgh, Stirling, Dunfermline, Perth, Dumfries, Jedburgh, Montrose and Lanark.
Major Works
David I was one of the most significant kings to have ever ruled over Scotland. During his reign he brought about several changes in the country which scholars now term as “Davidian Revolution”. During his administration, Scotland experienced innovations in governmental practices and also witnessed the implementation of several religious reforms.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1113 David married Matilda, daughter of the Waltheof, the Anglo-Saxon Earl of Huntingdon and Northampton, and his Norman wife Judith of Lens. Matilda had previously been married to Simon de Senlis who died sometime after 1111. The marriage of David and Matilda produced four children: two daughters and two sons.
David I suffered from ill health during his later years. He was further shattered by the death of his son and successor Henry, Earl of Northumberland, in 1152. Suffering from poor health and facing imminent death, David quickly named his young grandson Malcolm IV as his successor. David died on 24 May 1153.

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