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The Partition of a Kingdom: Strathclyde 1092-1153

Strathclyde kingdom - Wikimedia CommonsThe Partition of a Kingdom: Strathclyde 1092-1153

By J.G. Scott

Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, Vol.77 (1992)

Introduction: The last British king of Strathclyde, Owein, son of Dyfnal, died in 1018. At that time his kingdom stretched from Lennox, north of the Clyde, as far south as the Rere Cross at Stainmore in the North Riding of Yorkshire. Thereafter the kings of Scots took control, perhaps introduced a small Scottish aristocracy, but did not otherwise greatly alter the British character of the kingdom. Once it became possible for the Anglo-Norman kings of England to maintain a presence in the north the claims and ambitions of Scots and English kings led to a struggle for control of Strathclyde. An established border between ‘Scotland’ and ‘England’ did not then exist. The kings concerned were William II Rufus, Henry I and Stephen for England; for Scotland, Malcolm III and his sons Duncan, Edgar, Alexander I and David I. Their successes and failures over sixty years are discussed below.

In the year 1120 William Atheling, recently knighted, the only legitimate son of Henry I of England, received the homage of the English nobles. He then crossed the Channel and did homage for the duchy of Normandy to King Louis VI of France. In this way Henry obtained recognition of his right to hold the duchy without personally doing homage to Louis. William, that same year, married Matilda, daughter of Count Fulk of Anjou, thus ending a longstanding rivalry between Normandy and Anjou.

Henry’s plans had gone well. Later in the year William prepared to return to England in the White Ship. In his company were a daughter of Henry I, the tutor to his sons, many royal servants, including the justice, Geoffrey Ridel, the stewards, William Bigod and William de Pirou, the chamberlain, Robert Mauduit, and Gisulf, a royal scribe, together with many leading men and their wives. The White Ship foundered: there was reputedly only one survivor.

For Henry, grief at the loss of two of his children and of valued royal servants and supporters, was by no means all. His achievements in diplomacy and war over the previous twenty years were at once either undone or seriously undermined. He no longer had the right to hold Normandy unless he himself did homage to Louis VI, which he was still unwilling to do. His widowed daughter-in-law, Matilda of Anjou, returned to France and entered a nunnery. Disputes over her dowry, the county of Maine, renewed the rivalry between Normandy and Anjou. Louis VI, who had agreed to abandon his support for the claim to Normandy of William Clito, son of Duke Robert, was freed by William Atheling’s death to embarrass Henry by renewing support, if he chose, for William Clito.

Click here to read this article from the Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society

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