By Tim Lambert
In 1066 the Normans conquered England. Norman influence was soon felt in Scotland. In 1069 Malcolm married an English woman named Margaret who promoted Norman ways at the Scottish court. Malcolm was killed in a battle against the English at Alnwick in 1093.
Nevertheless during the reigns of his three sons Edgar (1097-1107), Alexander I (1107-1124) and David I (1124-1153) Norman influence in Scotland gradually increased. During the reign of David I many Normans came to live in Scotland. Dioceses were organised for bishops and new monasteries were founded. Government was reformed.
Moreover in the 12th century many towns or burghs were founded in Scotland and trade flourished. David I was the first Scottish king to found mints and issue his own coins.
However Scottish kings had little power. In the west and north chieftains frequently rebelled against the king during the 12th and 13th centuries.
Nevertheless in 1265 the Scottish king conquered the Western Islands, which until then were ruled by Norway. By the Treaty of Perth in 1266 the Norwegian king formally surrendered all his territory in Scotland except for the Orkney and Shetland Islands.
One night in 1286 Alexander III's horse fell in the darkness and he was killed. His heir was a little girl called Margaret who lived in Norway. However she died in 1290 on her way to Scotland. There were now many claimants to the throne. In fact there were 13.
The Bishop of St Andrews asked Edward I to arbitrate. Edward was happy to oblige and he chose John Balliol who was crowned in 1292.
Edward claimed to be overlord of Scotland and he soon made it clear he wanted Balliol to be a puppet. Finally in 1295 Edward tried to force the Scots to join him in a war against France. Balliol rebelled and formed an alliance with France. However in 1296 Edward invaded Scotland. Balliol was captured and forced to surrender the throne. Edward tried to rule Scotland directly, without a puppet king. He forced many Scottish nobles and landowners to submit to him at Berwick. He then installed English officials to govern Scotland and withdrew.
However the Scots were not subdued so easily. Many small landowners rose in rebellion led by William Wallace. In 1297 Wallace severely defeated the English at Stirling Bridge. However English won a victory at Falkirk in July 1298. Yet the Scots continued to resist and the English only really controlled the southeast. Yet Wallace was captured in 1305 and executed.
From 1306 Robert the Bruce, who was crowned king of Scotland that year, led resistance. Scottish resistance gradually increased and Edward I died in 1307. Then in 1314 the English were utterly defeated at the Battle of Bannockburn. After the battle Scottish independence was assured. However it was another 14 years till the English finally recognised Scottish independence by the Treaty of Northampton in 1328.
Nevertheless the treaty did not bring peace. Robert the Bruce died in 1329 and his 5-year-old son became David II. However in England there were some Scottish nobles who had been deprived of their lands in Scotland for supporting the English. They now attempted to make John Balliol's son Edward king of Scotland. They invaded Scotland by sea and defeated an army sent to meet them. They marched to Scone where Edward Balliol was crowned king. He tried to get the support of the English king by promising him Berwick. However Balliol was soon driven out of Scotland.
Nevertheless the English took Berwick anyway and invaded southern Scotland. King David was sent to France for safety. However after 1338 the English were at war with France and they were gradually forced to withdraw from Scotland.
Then in 1346 the French king appealed to the Scots for help. David invaded England but he was defeated and captured at Neville's Cross. David was released in 1357 when the Scot's paid a ransom. He died in 1371.
In the late Middle Ages the Scottish kings still had little power and the barons sometimes acted virtually as independent rulers. Accordingly Scotland suffered from lawlessness. On the other hand the burghs thrived and Scotland's first university St Andrews was founded in 1413.
Meanwhile during the late 14th and 15th centuries intermittent warfare between the Scots and the English continued.
England in the Middle Ages
Ireland in the Middle Ages