Alexander I of Scotland

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Alexander I (c. 1078 – 23 April 1124), also called Alaxandair mac Maíl Coluim (Modern Gaelic: Alasdair mac Mhaol Chaluim) and nicknamed "The Fierce",[1] was King of the Scots from 1107 to his death.

Alexander was the fourth son of Máel Coluim mac Donnchada by his wife Margaret of Wessex, grandniece of Edward the Confessor. Alexander was named for Pope Alexander II.

He was the younger brother of King Edgar, who was unmarried, and his brother's heir presumptive by 1104 (and perhabs earlier). In that year 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]

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