Chapter III: Early Wars of Races
In a work of this scope, it is impossible to describe all the wars between the petty kingdoms peopled by races of various languages, which occupied Scotland. In 603, in the wild moors at Degsastane, between the Liddel burn and the passes of the Upper Tyne, the English Aethelfrith of Deira, with an army of the still pagan ancestors of the Borderers, utterly defeated Aidan, King of Argyll, with the Christian converted Scots. Henceforth, for more than a century, the English between Forth and Humber feared neither Scot of the west nor Pict of the north.
On the death of Aethelfrith (617), the Christian west and north exercised their influences; one of Aethelfrith's exiled sons married a Pictish princess, and became father of a Pictish king, another, Oswald, was baptised at Iona; and the new king of the northern English of Lothian, Edwin, was converted by Paullinus (627), and held Edinburgh as his capital. Later, after an age of war and ruin, Oswald, the convert of Iona, restored Christianity in northern England; and, after his fall, his brother, Oswiu, consolidated the north English. In 685 Oswiu's son Egfrith crossed the Forth and invaded Pictland with a Northumbrian army, but was routed with great loss, and was slain at Nectan's Mere, in Forfarshire. Thenceforth, till 761, the Picts were dominant, as against Scots and north English, Angus MacFergus being then their leader (731-761).
Now the invaders and settlers from Scandinavia, the Northmen on the west coast, ravaged the Christian Scots of the west, and burned Iona: finally, in 844-860, Kenneth MacAlpine of Kintyre, a Scot of Dalriada on the paternal, a Pict on the mother's side, defeated the Picts and obtained their throne. By Pictish law the crown descended in the maternal line, which probably facilitated the coronation of Kenneth. To the Scots and "to all Europe" he was a Scot; to the Picts, as son of a royal Pictish mother, he was a Pict. With him, at all events, Scots and Picts were interfused, and there began the Scottish dynasty, supplanting the Pictish, though it is only in popular tales that the Picts were exterminated.
Owing to pressure from the Northmen sea-rovers in the west, the capital and the seat of the chief bishop, under Kenneth MacAlpine (844-860), were moved eastwards from Iona to Scone, near Perth, and after an interval at Dunkeld, to St Andrews in Fife.
The line of Kenneth MacAlpine, though disturbed by quarrels over the succession, and by Northmen in the west, north, and east, none the less in some way "held a good grip o' the gear" against Vikings, English of Lothian, and Welsh of Strathclyde. In consequence of a marriage with a Welsh princess of Strathclyde, or Cumberland, a Scottish prince, Donald, brother of Constantine II, became king of that realm (908), and his branch of the family of MacAlpin held Cumbria for a century.
English Claims Over Scotland
In 924 the first claim by an English king, Edward, to the over-lordship of Scotland appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The entry contains a manifest error, and the topic causes war between modern historians, English and Scottish. In fact, there are several such entries of Scottish acceptance of English suzerainty under Constantine II, and later, but they all end in the statement, "this held not long." The "submission" of Malcolm I to Edmund (945) is not a submission but an alliance; the old English word for "fellow-worker," or "ally," designates Malcolm as fellow-worker with Edward of England.
This word (midwyrhta) was translated fidelis (one who gives fealty) in the Latin of English chroniclers two centuries later, but Malcolm I held Cumberland as an ally, not as a subject prince of England. In 1092 an English chronicle represents Malcolm III as holding Cumberland "by conquest."
The main fact is that out of these and similar dim transactions arose the claims of Edward I. to the over-lordship of Scotland, - claims that were urged by Queen Elizabeth's minister, Cecil, in 1568, and were boldly denied by Maitland of Lethington. From these misty pretensions came the centuries of war that made the hardy character of the folk of Scotland.
We cannot pretend within our scope to follow chronologically "the fightings and flockings of kites and crows," in "a wolf-age, a war-age," when the Northmen from all Scandinavian lands, and the Danes, who had acquired much of Ireland, were flying at the throat of England and hanging on the flanks of Scotland; while the Britons of Strathclyde struck in, and the Scottish kings again and again raided or sought to occupy the fertile region of Lothian between Forth and Tweed. If the dynasty of MacAlpin could win rich Lothian, with its English-speaking folk, they were "made men," they held the granary of the North. By degrees and by methods not clearly defined they did win the Castle of the Maidens, the acropolis of Dunedin, Edinburgh; and fifty years later, in some way, apparently by the sword, at the battle of Carham (1018), in which a Scottish king of Cumberland fought by his side, Malcolm II took possession of Lothian, the whole south-east region, by this time entirely anglified, and this was the greatest step in the making of Scotland. The Celtic dynasty now held the most fertile district between Forth and Tweed, a district already English in blood and speech, the centre and focus of the English civilisation accepted by the Celtic kings. Under this Malcolm, too, his grandson, Duncan, became ruler of Strathclyde - that is, practically, of Cumberland.
Malcolm is said to have been murdered at haunted Glamis, in Forfarshire, in 1034; the room where he died is pointed out by legend in the ancient castle. His rightful heir, by the strange system of the Scots, should have been, not his own grandson, Duncan, but the grandson of Kenneth III. The rule was that the crown went alternately to a descendant of the House of Constantine (863-877), son of Kenneth MacAlpine, and to a descendant of Constantine's brother, Aodh (877-888). These alternations went on till the crowning of Malcolm II (1005-1034), and then ceased, for Malcolm II had slain the unnamed male heir of the House of Aodh, a son of Boedhe, in order to open the succession to his own grandson, "the gracious Duncan." Boedhe had left a daughter, Gruach; she had by the Mormaor, or under-king of the province of Murray, a son, Lulach. On the death of the Mormaor she married Macbeth, and when Macbeth slew Duncan (1040), he was removing a usurper - as he understood it - and he ruled in the name of his stepson, Lulach. The power of Duncan had been weakened by repeated defeats at the hands of the Northmen under Thorfinn. In 1057 Macbeth was slain in battle at Lumphanan, in Aberdeenshire, and Malcolm Canmore, son of Duncan after returning from England, whither he had fled from Macbeth, succeeded to the throne. But he and his descendants for long were opposed by the House of Murray, descendants of Lulach, who himself had died in 1058.
The world will always believe Shakespeare's version of these events, and suppose the gracious Duncan to have been a venerable old man, and Macbeth an ambitious Thane, with a bloodthirsty wife, he himself being urged on by the predictions of witches. He was, in fact, Mormaor of Murray, and upheld the claims of his stepson Lulach, who was son of a daughter of the wrongfully extruded House of Aodh.
The reign of Malcolm Canmore (1057-1093) brought Scotland into closer connection with western Europe and western Christianity. The Norman Conquest (1066) increased the tendency of the English-speaking people of Lothian to acquiesce in the rule of a Celtic king, rather than in that of the adventurers who followed William of Normandy. Norman operations did not at first reach Cumberland, which Malcolm held; and, on the death of his Norse wife, the widow of Duncan's foe, Thorfinn (she left a son, Duncan), Malcolm allied himself with the English Royal House by marrying Margaret, sister of Eadgar Ætheling, then engaged in the hopeless effort to rescue northern England from the Normans. The dates are confused: Malcolm may have won the beautiful sister of Edgar, rightful king of England, in 1068, or at the time (1070) of his raid, said to have been of savage ferocity, into Northumberland, and his yet more cruel reprisals for Gospatric's harrying of Cumberland. In either case, St Margaret's biographer, who had lived at her Court, whether or not he was her Confessor, Turgot, represents the Saint as subduing the savagery of Malcolm, who passed wakeful nights in weeping for his sins. A lover of books, which Malcolm could not read, an expert in "the delicate, and gracious, and bright works of women," Margaret brought her own gentleness and courtesy among a rude people, built the abbey church of Dunfermline, and presented the churches with many beautiful golden reliquaries and fine sacramental plate.
In 1072, to avenge a raid of Malcolm (1070), the Conqueror, with an army and a fleet, came to Abernethy on Tay, where Malcolm, in exchange for English manors, "became his man" for them, and handed over his son Duncan as a hostage for peace. The English view is that Malcolm became William's "man for all that he had" - or for all south of Tay.
After various raidings of northern England, and after the death of the Conqueror, Malcolm renewed, in Lothian, the treaty of Abernethy, being secured in his twelve English manors (1091). William Rufus then took and fortified Carlisle, seized part of Malcolm's lands in Cumberland, and summoned him to Gloucester, where the two Kings, after all, quarrelled and did not meet. No sooner had Malcolm returned home than he led an army into Northumberland, where he was defeated and slain, near Alnwick (Nov. 13, 1093). His son Edward fell with him, and his wife, St Margaret, died in Edinburgh Castle: her body, under cloud of night, was carried through the host of rebel Celts and buried at Dunfermline.
Margaret, a beautiful and saintly Englishwoman, had been the ruling spirit of the reign in domestic and ecclesiastical affairs. She had civilised the Court, in matters of costume at least; she had read books to the devoted Malcolm. who could not read; and he had been her interpreter in her discussions with the Celtic-speaking clergy, whose ideas of ritual differed from her own. The famous Culdees, originally ascetic hermits, had before this day united in groups living under canonical rules, and, according to English observers, had ceased to be bachelors. Masses are said to have been celebrated by them in some "barbarous rite"; Saturday was Sabbath; on Sunday men worked. Lent began, not on Ash Wednesday, but on the Monday following. We have no clearer account of the Culdee peculiarities that St Margaret reformed. The hereditary tenure of benefices by lay protectors she did not reform, but she restored the ruined cells of Iona, and established hospitia for pilgrims. She was decidedly unpopular with her Celtic subjects, who now made a struggle against English influences.
In the year of her death died Fothadh, the last Celtic bishop of St Andrews, and the Celtic clergy were gradually superseded and replaced by monks of English name, English speech, and English ideas - or rather the ideas of western Europe. Scotland, under Margaret's influence, became more Catholic; the celibacy of the clergy was more strictly enforced (it had almost lapsed), but it will be observed throughout that, of all western Europe, Scotland was least overawed by Rome. Yet for centuries the Scottish Church was, in a peculiar degree, "the daughter of Rome," for not till about 1470 had she a Metropolitan, the Archbishop of St Andrews.
On the deaths, in one year, of Malcolm, Margaret, and Fothadh, the last Celtic bishop of St Andrews, the see for many years was vacant or merely filled by transient bishops. York and Canterbury were at feud for their superiority over the Scottish Church; and the other sees were not constituted and provided with bishops till the years 1115 (Glasgow), 1150, - Argyll not having a bishop till 1200. In the absence of a Metropolitan, episcopal elections had to be confirmed at Rome, which would grant no Metropolitan, but forbade the Archbishop of York to claim a superiority which would have implied, or prepared the way for, English superiority over Scotland. Meanwhile the expenses and delays of appeals from bishops direct to Rome did not stimulate the affection of the Scottish "daughter of Rome." The rights of the Chapters of the Cathedrals to elect their bishops, and other appointments to ecclesiastical offices, in course of time were transferred to the Pope, who negotiated with the king, and thus all manner of jobbery increased, the nobles influencing the king in favour of their own needy younger sons, and the Pope being amenable to various secular persuasions, so that in every way the relations of Scotland with the Holy Father were anomalous and irksome.
Scotland was, indeed, a country predestined to much ill fortune, to tribulations against which human foresight could erect no defence. But the marriage of the Celtic Malcolm with the English Margaret, and the friendly arrival of great nobles from the south, enabled Scotland to receive the new ideas of feudal law in pacific fashion. They were not violently forced upon the English-speaking people of Lothian.
Dynasty of Malcolm
On the death of Malcolm the contest for the Crown lay between his brother, Donald Ban, supported by the Celts; his son Duncan by his first wife, a Norse woman (Duncan being then a hostage at the English Court, who was backed by William Rufus); and thirdly, Malcolm's eldest son by Margaret, Eadmund, the favourite with the anglicised south of the country. Donald Ban, after a brief period of power, was driven out by Duncan (1094); Duncan was then slain by the Celts (1094). Donald was next restored, north of Forth, Eadmund ruling in the south, but was dispossessed and blinded by Malcolm's son Eadgar, who reigned for ten years (1097-1107), while Eadmund died in an English cloister. Eadgar had trouble enough on all sides, but the process of anglicising continued, under himself, and later, under his brother, Alexander I, who ruled north of Forth and Clyde; while the youngest brother, David, held Lothian and Cumberland, with the title of Earl. The sister of those sons of Malcolm, Eadgyth (Matilda), married Henry I. of England in 1100. There seemed a chance that, north of Clyde and Forth, there would be a Celtic kingdom; while Lothian and Cumbria would be merged in England. Alexander was mainly engaged in fighting the Moray claimants of his crown in the north and in planting his religious houses, notably St Andrews, with English Augustinian canons from York. Canterbury and York contended for ecclesiastical superiority over Scotland; after various adventures, Robert, the prior of the Augustinians at Scone, was made Bishop of St Andrews, being consecrated by Canterbury, in 1124; while York consecrated David's bishop in Glasgow. Thanks to the quarrels of the sees of York and Canterbury, the Scottish clergy managed to secure their ecclesiastical independence from either English see; and became, finally, the most useful combatants in the long struggle for the independence of the nation. Rome, on the whole, backed that cause. The Scottish Catholic churchmen, in fact, pursued the old patriotic policy of resistance to England till the years just preceding the Reformation, when the people leaned to the reformed doctrines, and when Scottish national freedom was endangered more by France than by England.
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