William the Lion

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William I, William the Lion, was brother to Malcolm IV and succeeded him as king of Scotland.

He was born in 1143, and succeeded in 1165, reigning for the then-unheard-of period of 50 years. His sobriquet arises not from any especial martial prowess, but because his standard was a red lion on a gold background, which later became the national arms of the Scots kingdom.

In 1168 he made an alliance of mutual defence, with Louis VII of France, which would shape Scots history for centuries to come. He was captured by the English in 1174 and taken to Falaise in France to be imprisoned. As he was unmarried and his brother David had been captured with him, he faced the possible extinction of the Scottish royal house. On this basis, he was compelled to acknowledge the English king, Henry II, as his feudal overlord, and to agree to pay ransom for his release, and the cost of an English army of occupation, by means of taxation on his subjects. This humiliating and beggaring provision was only lifted by Henry's successor, Richard I, on the payment of 10,000 silver marks (Richard being in need of funds to support his Crusade to liberate Jerusalem).

In 1186 he married Ermengarde de Beaumont, a grand-daughter of the English Henry I. Their marriage produced 3 daughters, who were later taken to England by King John, and married to English noblemen (the Earls of Kent, Norfolk, and Pembroke) and a son Alexander who succeeded his father on his death in 1214.


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Scottish kings

William the Lion

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Preceded by
Malcolm IV
Reigned
1165-1214
Succeeded by
Alexander II