scottish history
A service from

One, Two, Three, Four, Five

The Highland Clearances

Scottish Origins... up to William Wallace

The Battle of Stirling Bridge

Battle of Falkirk & Execution of Wallace

History of the Kilt

Patrick Geddes

Tragedy at Glencoe


Scottish William Wallace
Chapter Four - Scotland under MacBeth's Successors

One, Two, Three, Four, Five
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A mural showing St. Margaret, Malcolm III, MacBeth and Grauch(L to R).

[Mural of Royals]

MacBeth was one of the last of the Kings of ancient Scotland. He was Gaelic speaking as were his predecessors. They represented the old Pictish and Scottish Kingdom of Kenneth MacAlpin, their ancestor. It has been said that they were 'Chief of Chief's' in the Clan system. Until the end of his reign, MacBeth's Kingdom was not involved with English arms and influence. As mentioned at the end of chapter three, MacBeth, had he not been defeated by Malcolm III (with English money and arms) , Scotland almost certainly would have remained a separate nation and gone in a totally different direction than the way it did under the new monarch Malcolm III Canmore (big or great head). However, it was Malcolm III who triumphed, and now Scotland would have the "English Party" forever, deeply placed in Lowland beliefs and politics. Scottish, mainly Lowland Scotland's, ties to England would grow deeper and deeper with every passing generation of Lowland Scot's, and it was from the Lowlands, that the Scots Kings would rule.

Malcolm III Canmore (big head) was the first in a succession of kings of Scotland, who were under heavy English pressure or favor. Malcolm III took Scotland from MacBeth with English help, and it was the beginning of a process whereby Scottish Lords were "bought" or bribed with money and/or gifts (titles & lands) to promote English causes in Scotland. As previously mentioned, Malcolm III grew up in exile in England and spoke English as his primary tongue. He also visited Normandy, made friends there, and was also under their influence. The English looked upon Malcolm favorably, not for his sake, but because it was established English policy to get Scots to recognise the English as their Overlords by influencing the Kings of Scotland, and their counselors -- or if that failed, by force. Once Malcolm was 'firm' on the throne, he forgot many of his "obligations" to England, and instead made a treaty with Thorfinn the Mighty, leader of the Northern Vikings in Scotland, in 1059. This, of course, upset English plans greatly. Now Malcolm III had a powerful ally to the north.

Malcom was not a wise or consistent leader though, and the treaty dissolved in time. Instead, he married Margaret, an English Princess who had taken refuge in Scotland along with her brother Edgar the Aetheling, after the Norman conquest of England begun in 1066. Most of all Anglo-Saxon (English) Nobility fled to the Lowlands of Scotland as safe haven from the Norman invaders. This is the beginning of the separation of Lowland Scotland and the Highlands and the Isles of Scotland. But, I'm getting ahead of myself....................

The Norman Invasion and its Effect on Scotland

The Norman invasion of England was almost as important for Scotland as it was for England. Henceforth, England and her rulers (now Normans) were in one way or another to play an even greater part in Scottish affairs.

Saxons, Angles from England, sought safe haven from the Normans in Lowland Scotland. Lowland Scotland, already a mix of Scots, Britons, what was left of Pictish culture, and now Anglo-Saxons collectively went on to be known as Scots, but never again the same as the Highland and Isles Scots. The Lowland and Highland gap, already there, was getting wider with every generation. English and Norman influences were to make themselves increasingly felt in the Lowlands.

Under Malcolm III 'big or great head', and his successors, the foundations of feudalism were laid, at any rate, in southern Scotland. Malcolm's English wife Margaret, a saintly and very determined young woman, set herself to introduce to her husband's court English fashions and customs. She took the Scottish clergy in hand, much to their dismay, sought to impose the religious practises prevalent in England, (Anglo-Saxon England), celibacy, poverty, and so on. Scot's clergy prior to this had been allowed to marry. Due directly to Margaret Canmore's influences , Scottish court life assumed a decidely English tinge, while in the church a system of regular diocesan episcopacy gradually took shape. Malcolm, being educated and raised since the age of nine in England, was inclined to share his wife's views and during his reign shifted the cultural center of his Kingdom southwards into what had been Anglo-Saxon territory (Lothian area) , only recently absorbed as a Scottish region, thereby seriously offending the Celtic north and west.

Malcolm III, eyeing selfishly his southern neighbours lands in north England, conducted a series of border raids into Northumberland and Cumberland. This, of course, provoked a retaliatory response on the part of the Normans, led by William the Conqueror himself in 1071. William I invaded Scotland and forced the foolish Malcolm to pay homage to him. This did quell Malcolm's raids on England........for a while. In 1093 an attack on Northumberland (again) , by Malcolm, was repulsed and Malcolm III was killed by one of his Norman friends named Morel. Queen Margaret, for her part, died three days later, piously uttering a prayer of thanks that "...such sadness should have been sent, to purify my final moments." She was in due course canonized.

Over the next three decades, Scotland was in turmiol, ruled over by a succession of weak, insecure kings. During this pitiful succession of inadequate kings, the Normans found themselves more and more easy Overlords of any and all Scots Kings. Normans began to take lands in Lowland Scotland much as they did in Ireland.

Another weak king took over after the death of King Donald Ban or Bane. This new king was named Alexander, son of Malcolm III and Margaret. His sister married the English King, Henry the first, while Alexander I had himself married to Henry I's daughter, Sibylla. Finally, after an uneventful reign, Alexander I died and in 1124 his brother David became King of Scots and had an eventful 30 year reign. David I had received a Norman education and grew to love Normans and Anglo-Norman culture. He may have thought they were his friends, but a quote from Anglo-Norman noble William of Malmesbury, reveals much; "His manners were polished from the rust of Scottish barbarity".

On David I's return to Scotland as king he proceeded to distribute large estates there amongst his Anglo-Norman friends, such as the de Brus (the Bruce family), Walter Fitz-Alan, a Breton who became his high Steward (the ancestor of the Stewart Clan), de Bailleul (the Balliol family), de Comines (the Comyn family) and many others who thus became landholders on both sides of the border.

David I also introduced into the Lowlands a fuedal system of ownership, founded on a new, French speaking Anglo-Norman aristocracy. Although they intermarried and eventually merged with the old and rapidly disappearing, Celtic aristocracy, these new Scots remained for a time partially Gaelic, save for the south and east of Scotland which now spoke a primitive form of English, (Lothian English) .

Meanwhile, in the Highlands of Scotland, a different more patriarchal system prevailed (based on the ancient clan system), and the King of Scots writ counted for very little, while in the Isles of western Scotland and parts of the west mainland, whose Norse-Scot clans, paid no attention to the King of Scotland, if anyone it was to the king of Norway.

A Brief Summary of David I's Reign

When David I came to the throne in 1124, Scotland had been a rather primitive country, with only small towns and little industry. Also, depending on where you were in the Lowlands in 1124 , you could have to speak Latin, French, English or a number of Gaelic dialects just in the south of Scotland. The Scottish church with only three Bishops, had little influence. When David I died in 1153 much had changed. In many areas of the Lowlands, what remained of the old Celtic way of life had been swept away and a new Anglo-Norman order of things were established in it's place.

While David did little to help the old Celtic ways, he modernized a backward Scotland -- and Scots benefitted from David I's administrative work. Especially future kings of Scotland.

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