Alexander I (The Fierce) King of Scotland

Male 1078 - 1124  (46 years)


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  • Name Alexander I (The Fierce) King of Scotland 
    Born 1078  Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 23 Apr 1124  Stirling Castle, Stirling, Stirlingshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Dunfermline Abbey Cemetery (Holy Trinity Church) Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I242  King of Scots
    Last Modified 15 Feb 2009 

    Father Malcolm III Canmore (King of Scotland), ,   b. 1031, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Nov 1093, Alnwick, Northumberland, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 62 years) 
    Mother Margaret of Atheling (Queen of Scotland),   b. 1045, Southern Transdanubia, Hungary Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Nov 1093, Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 48 years) 
    Married Abt 1069  Dunfermline Abbey (Holy Trinity Church) Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F104  Group Sheet

    Family Sybella Of Normandy,   b. 1092, Domfront, Normandy Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Jul 1122, Eilean nam Ban, Loch Tay, Perthshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 30 years) 
    Last Modified 28 Jan 2009 
    Family ID F135  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 1078 - Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 23 Apr 1124 - Stirling Castle, Stirling, Stirlingshire, Scotland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Dunfermline Abbey Cemetery (Holy Trinity Church) Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
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    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Alexander Canmore
    Alexander Canmore
    Personal Collection
    Alexander I
    Alexander I
    Personal Collection

  • Notes 
    • Alexander I or Alaxandair mac Maíl Coluim (Modern Gaelic: Alasdair mac Mhaol Chaluim) (c. 1078 ? 23 April 1124), called "The Fierce",[1] King of the Scots or King of Alba, was the fourth son of Máel Coluim mac Donnchada by his wife Margaret of Wessex, grand-niece of Edward the Confessor. He was named for Pope Alexander II.

      Alexander was his unmarried brother Edgar's heir, perhaps throughout his reign, and certainly by 1104 when he was the senior layman present at the examination of the remains of Saint Cuthbert at Durham prior to their reinterrment. He held lands in Scotland north of the Forth and in Lothian.[2]

      On the death of Edgar in 1107 he succeeded to the Scottish crown; but, in accordance with Edgar's instructions, their brother David was granted an appanage in southern Scotland. Edgar's will granted David the lands of the former kingdom of Strathclyde or Cumbria, and this was apparently agreed in advance by Edgar, Alexander, David and their brother-in-law Henry I of England. However, in 1113, perhaps at Henry's instigation, and with the support of his Anglo-Norman, David demanded, and received, additional lands in Lothian along the Upper Tweed and Teviot. David did not receive the title of king, but of "prince of the Cumbrians", and his lands remained under Alexander's final authority.[3]

      The dispute over Upper Tweeddale and Teviotdale does not appear to have damaged relations between Alexander and David, although it was unpopular in some quarters. A Gaelic poem laments:

      It's bad what Malcolm's son has done,
      dividing us from Alexander;
      he causes, like each king's son before,
      the plunder of stable Alba.[4]

      The dispute over the eastern marches does not appear to have caused lasting trouble between Alexander and Henry of England. In 1114 he joined Henry on campaign in Wales against Gruffydd ap Cynan of Gwynedd.[5] Alexander's marriage with Henry's illegitimate daughter Sybilla de Normandy may have occurred as early as 1107, or as at late as 1114.[6]

      William of Malmesbury's account attacks Sybilla, but the evidence argues that Alexander and Sybilla were a devoted but childless couple and Sybilla was of noteworthy piety.[7] Sybilla died in unrecorded circumstances at Eilean nam Ban (Kenmore on Loch Tay) in July, 1122 and was buried at Dunfermline Abbey. Alexander did not remarry and Walter Bower wrote that he planned an Augustinian Priory at the Eilean nam Ban dedicated to Sybilla's memory, and he may have taken steps to have her venerated.[8]

      Alexander had at least one illegitimate child, Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair, who was later to be involved in a revolt against David I in the 1130s. He was imprisoned at Roxburgh for many years afterwards, perhaps until his death some time after 1157.[9]

      Alexander was, like his brothers Edgar and David, a notably pious king. He was responsible for foundations at Scone and Inchcolm. His mother's chaplain and hagiographer Thurgot was named Bishop of Saint Andrews (or Cell Rígmonaid) in 1107, presumably by Alexander's order.[2] The case of Thurgot's would-be successor Eadmer shows that Alexander's wishes were not always accepted by the religious community, perhaps because Eadmer had the backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ralph d'Escures, rather than Thurstan of York. Alexander also patronised Saint Andrews, granting lands intended for an Augustinian Priory, which may have been the same as that intended to honour his wife.[10]

      For all his religiosity, Alexander was not remembered as a man of peace. John of Fordun says of him:

      ? Now the king was a lettered and godly man; very humble and amiable towards the clerics and regulars, but terrible beyond measure to the rest of his subjects; a man of large heart, exerting himself in all things beyond his strength.[11] ?

      He manifested the terrible aspect of his character in his reprisals in the Mormaerdom of Moray. Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland says that Alexander was holding court at Invergowrie when he was attacked by "men of the Isles".[12] Walter Bower says the attackers were from Moray and Mearns. Alexander pursued them north, to "Stockford" in Ross (near Beauly) where he defeated them. This, says Wyntoun, is why he was named the "Fierce". The dating of this is uncertain, as are his enemies' identity. However, in 1116 the Annals of Ulster report: "Ladhmann son of Domnall, grandson of the king of Scotland, was killed by the men of Moray." The king referred to is Alexander's father, Malcolm III, and Domnall was Alexander's half brother. The Mormaerdom or Kingdom of Moray was ruled by the family of Macbeth (Mac Bethad mac Findláich) and Lulach (Lulach mac Gille Coemgáin); not overmighty subjects, but a family who had ruled Alba within little more than a lifetime. Who the Mormaer or King was at this time is not known, it may have been Óengus of Moray or his father, whose name is not known. As for the Mearns, the only known Mormaer of Mearns, Máel Petair, had murdered Alexander's half-brother Duncan II (Donnchad mac Maíl Coluim) in 1094.[13]

      Alexander died in April 1124 at his court at Stirling; his brother David, probably the acknowledged heir since the death of Sybilla, succeeded him.[14]


      Notes
      ^ This nickname however is not attested for another three centuries, in the work of Andrew of Wyntoun.
      ^ a b Barrow, p. 154.
      ^ Oram, pp. 60?63.
      ^ Oram, p. 66 citing Clancy, The Triumph Tree.
      ^ Oram, p. 65.
      ^ Oram, p. 65; a date around 1114 would place the marriage at about the same time as that of David and Maud of Huntingdon.
      ^ Duncan,p. 65; Oram, p. 71.
      ^ Oram, p. 71.
      ^ Oram, p. 77. The identity of this person may be still in question, see Meic Uilleim and MacHeths.
      ^ Barrow, p. 156.
      ^ Fordun, V, xxviii (Skene's edition).
      ^ Wyntoun, cxxvii.
      ^ MacDonald, pp. 23?24, deals with this affair.
      ^ Oram, pp.71?72.

      References
      Barrow, G.W.S., The Kingdom of the Scots. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2003. ISBN 0-7486-1803-1
      Duncan, A.A.M., The Kingship of the Scots 842?1292: Succession and Independence. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2002. ISBN 0-7486-1626-8
      Oram, Richard, David I: The King Who Made Scotland. Tempus, Stroud, 2004. ISBN 0-7524-2825-X
      McDonald, R. Andrew, Outlaws of Medieval Scotland: Challenges to the Canmore Kings, 1058?1266. Tuckwell Press, East Linton, 2003. ISBN 1-86232-236-8


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