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Friday, 25 May 2018

27 May 1153 – Malcolm IV becomes King of Scotland

27 May 1153 – Malcolm IV becomes King of Scotland
Earl Henry, son and heir of King David I of Scotland, had been in poor health throughout the 1140s. He died suddenly on 12 June 1152. His death occurred in either Newcastle or Roxburgh, both located in those areas of Northumbria which he and his father had attached to the Scots crown in the period of English weakness after the death of Henry I of England. Unlike in the case of the English king, who had been left without male heirs after the death of his only son in the Wreck of the White Ship, the King of Scots, David I, did not lack for immediate heirs upon the death of Earl Henry. This was because Earl Henry had left behind three sons to carry forward the lineage of his father.[2]
Malcolm, the eldest of Earl Henry's sons, was only eleven years old. He was however sent by his grandfather on a circuit of the kingdom, accompanied by Donnchad, Mormaer of Fife, and a large army. Donnchad had been styled rector, perhaps indicating that he was to hold the regency for Malcolm on David's death.[3] These preparations were timely, because King David survived his son less than one year, dying on 24 May 1153 at Carlisle. Malcolm was inaugurated as king on 27 May 1153 at Scone at age twelve.[4] Donnchad, who duly became regent for the young Malcolm, ensured that the inauguration took place before the old king was even buried. This might appear unseemly, but there was good reason for the haste. Malcolm was not without rivals for the kingship. Donnchad himself died a year later, in 1154.

Malcolm was not only King of Scots, but also inherited the Earldom of Northumbria, which his father and grandfather had gained during the wars between Stephen and Empress Matilda. Malcolm granted Northumbria to his brother William, keeping Cumbria for himself. Cumbria was, like the earldoms of Northumbria and Huntingdon, and later Chester, a fief of the English crown. While Malcolm delayed doing homage to Henry II of England for his possessions in Henry's kingdom, he did so in 1157 at Peveril Castle in Derbyshire and later at Chester.[1] Henry II refused to allow Malcolm to keep Cumbria, or William to keep Northumbria, but instead granted the Earldom of Huntingdon to Malcolm, for which Malcolm did homage.[10]
After a second meeting between Malcolm and Henry, at Carlisle in 1158, "they returned without having become good friends, and so that the king of Scots was not yet knighted."[11] In 1159 Malcolm accompanied Henry to France, serving at the siege of Toulouse where he was, at last, knighted. "Whether this was the act of a king of Scots or of an earl of Huntingdon we are not told; it was certainly the act of a man desperate for knightly arms, but that did not make it any more acceptable in Scotland."[12]

Malcolm returned from Toulouse in 1160. At Perth, Roger of Hoveden reports, he faced a rebellion by six earls, led by Ferchar, Mormaer of Strathearn, who besieged the king.[13] Given that Earl Ferchar heads the list of those named, it is presumed that Donnchad II, Mormaer of Fife, was not among the rebels.[14] John of Fordun's version in the Gesta Annalia appears to suggest a peaceful settlement to the affair, and both Fordun and Hoveden follow the report of the revolt and its ending by stating that the king led an expedition into Galloway where he eventually defeated Fergus, Lord of Galloway and took his son Uchtred as a hostage while Fergus became a monk at Holyrood, dying there in 1161.[15] While it was assumed that the earls included Fergus among their number, and that the expedition to Galloway was related to the revolt, it is now thought that the earls sought to have Malcolm attack Galloway, perhaps as a result of raids by Fergus.[16]

Death and posterity

Malcolm IV died on 9 December 1165 at Jedburgh, aged twenty-four. His premature death may have been hastened by Paget's disease (a chronic disorder that typically results in enlarged and deformed bones).[20] While his contemporaries were in no doubt that Malcolm had some of the qualities of a great king, later writers were less convinced. The compiler of the Annals of Ulster, writing soon after 1165, praises Malcolm:
Máel Coluim Cenn Mór, son of Henry, high king of Scotland, the best Christian that was of the Gaidhil [who dwell] by the sea on the east for almsdeeds, hospitality and piety, died.[21]

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