CHAPTER IV. MALCOLM CANMORE—NORMAN CONQUEST

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.

 Print  Email