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The Scottish Nation

WILLIAM I., KING OF SCOTS, styled William the Lion, from being the first Scottish monarch who assumed the figure of a lion rampant on his shield, grandson of David I., and brother of Malcolm IV., was born in 1143. He succeeded to the throne in 1165, and soon after he repaired to the English court, to endeavour to obtain from Henry II. of England the restoration of the territory of Northumberland, which had been relinquished by Malcolm. Henry put him off with fair promises, and, at length, finding all his solicitations fruitless, William sent ambassadors to France, in 1168, and concluded a treaty with the French king against England. In 1172 he joined with Richard, Caeur de Lion, in a confederacy against the English monarch, father of that prince, who promised to restore to him the earldom of Northumberland, and to give to his brother, David, the earldom of Cambridge. In accordance with this agreement, William invaded England. He divided his army into three columns; the first of which laid siege to Carlisle, the second he himself led into Northumberland, and his brother, David, advanced with the third into Leicestershire. After reducing the castles of Burgh, Appleby, and Warkworth, William joined that division of his army which was besieging Carlisle. The place was already so much weakened, that the governor had agreed to surrender it by a certain day, provided it was not previously relieved; on which the king, leaving some troops to continue the siege, invested the castle with part of the forces under his command, at the same time sending a strong reinforcement to his brother David. At this juncture, when his army was so much reduced, he received intelligence that a strong body of English were on their march to surprise him. Retiring to Alnwick, he laid siege to the place; but was unexpectedly attacked by 400 Yorkshire horsemen, who, disguising themselves in Scottish habits, had approached his camp unobserved. William mistook them for a party of his own stragglers returning loaded with spoil; but the display of the English banners soon undeceived him. On perceiving his error, he gallantly charged the enemy at the head of sixty horse; but being overpowered by numbers, he was taken prisoner and conveyed to Richmond castle. He was then carried in chains before Henry, at Northampton, and ordered to be sent to the castle of Falaise in Normandy, where he was confined with other state prisoners. Towards the close of the year he regained his liberty, but only by consenting to do homage to Henry for Scotland and all his other possessions; and, as a security, he was obliged to deliver into the hands of the English monarch the castles of Roxburgh, Berwick, Jedburgh, Edinburgh, and Stirling. David, the king’s brother, with twenty barons, who were present at the signing of this convention, were given to Henry as hostages on the occasion. This took place in 1174, and in the succeeding year, William, with the clergy and barons, did homage to Henry at York.

In 1188 the bishop of Durham was sent by Henry into Scotland to levy a contribution for the Holy War; and the restitution of the castles of Roxburgh and Berwick were offered to William, to induce him to give the tenths of his kingdom for the purpose; but the Scottish clergy and barons assembled in parliament, indignantly refused their consent, declaring that “they would not pay, although both kings should have sworn to levy them.” On the death of Henry in 1189, Richard, his successor, having resolved on an expedition into the Holy Land, that he might secure the quiet of his dominions in his absence, determined upon making the Scots his friends, and restored to William all the rights and territories which had been wrested from him during the reign of his father. For this William agreed to pay ten thousand merks sterling. The treaty entered into between the two monarchs on this occasion is still extant. In it Richard acknowledges that “all the conventions and acts of submission from William to the crown of England had been extorted from him by unprecedented writings and duresse;” and thus was Scotland restored to her independence, of which she had been temporarily deprived, by measures, on the part of Henry, which even the English themselves considered as forced and unjust. William continued a faithful ally of Richard, and when the latter was imprisoned by the emperor of Germany, on his return from Palestine, the king of Scotland sent an army to assist his regency against his brother John, who had usurped the throne of England. After the death of Richard, William demanded restitution from King John of the three northern counties of England, which the latter refused to deliver up. In 1209 both monarchs assembled their forces on the borders; but the barons of both countries interfered, and succeeded in adjusting, without bloodshed, the differences between them. William died at Stirling, December 2, 1214, and was interred in the Abbey of Arbroath. He married, in 1186, Ermingarde, daughter of Richard, viscount de Beaumont, and was succeeded by his son, Alexander II.

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