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William The Lion

Ambition to recover the northern English counties revealed itself in the overtures of William the Lion, Malcolm’s brother and successor, for an alliance between Scotland and France. “The auld Alliance” now dawned, with rich promise of good and evil. In hopes of French aid, William invaded Northumberland, later laid siege to Carlisle, and on July 13, 1174, was surprised in a morning mist and captured at Alnwick. Scotland was now kingless; Galloway rebelled, and William, taken a captive to Falaise in Normandy, surrendered absolutely the independence of his country, which, for fifteen years, really was a fief of England. When William was allowed to go home, it was to fight the Celts of Galloway, and subdue the pretensions, in Moray, of the MacWilliams, descendants of William, son of Duncan, son of Malcolm Canmore.

During William’s reign (1188) Pope Clement III. decided that the Scottish Church was subject, not to York or Canterbury, but to Rome. Seven years earlier, defending his own candidate for the see of St Andrews against the chosen of the Pope, William had been excommunicated, and his country and he had unconcernedly taken the issue of an Interdict. The Pope was too far away, and William feared him no more than Robert Bruce was to do.

By 1188, William refused to pay to Henry II. a “Saladin Tithe” for a crusade, and in 1189 he bought from Richard I., who needed money for a crusade, the abrogation of the Treaty of Falaise. He was still disturbed by Celts in Galloway and the north, he still hankered after Northumberland, but, after preparations for war, he paid a fine and drifted into friendship with King John, who entertained his little daughters royally, and knighted his son Alexander. William died on December 4, 1214. He was buried at the Abbey of Arbroath, founded by him in honour of St Thomas of Canterbury, who had worked a strange posthumous miracle in Scotland. William was succeeded by his son, Alexander II. (1214-1249).

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