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(1)  1066 was a very important year for Anglo-Saxon England. There were 3 Kings, 2 Battles and a comet. There hasn't been another y...

Monday, 5 November 2012



Our gallant stand by all congest,
Be this the Standard's fight,
Where death or victory the test,
That proved the warriors' might.

From the Chronicle of Richard of Hexham

(6)  In 1127 it is said in the Anglo-Saxon chronicles that King Henry I, held his court at Christmas, in Windsor. There was David King of the Scots and all the head men that were in England, learned and lewd. There, he engaged the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls and all the thegns (Norman Knights and free men) that were there to swear England and Normandy, after his death, into the hands of his daughter Matilda.

By 1135, Henry I had died. The chronicles talk about the anarchy that followed the death of King Henry between his nephew Stephen, Count of Blois and Matilda's supporters. The English throne had been seized by Stephen, under the willingness of the barons, while Matilda was in Normandy, pregnant with her third child. King David, who had swore an oath to support Matilda's claim, now prepared to wage war on England, in the name of his niece Matilda.


David Canmore, was the last of the four sons of King Malcolm III of Scotland and Queen Margaret. At the tender age of nine, he and his sister Matilda, were sent to the Norman-English court of William II. They spent over 30 years in England, David being raised as a Norman Knight and Matilda later marrying Henry I of England.

In 1107, after the death of his brother Edgar, David, effectively, became King of Southern Scotland. His elder brother, Alexander was to be King and rule over the rest of Scotland. Alexander was extremely unhappy with this arrangement, but David had more knights than his brother so was capable of defending his inheritance. An agreement was eventually reached, whereupon: Alexander was to be given final say on the affairs of Scotland and the title of 'King', was not to be given to David. Instead, Henry I, made him Prince of Cumbria and gave him the 'Honour of Huntingdon', which included Manors in eleven counties. David married a widow heiress named Matilda, the daughter of Waltheof, Earl of Huntingdon.

Upon the death of Alexander I, in 1124, David sets off for Scotland along with many knights and courtiers from Norman England, including Bruce, Balliol and Fitz-Alan, who later became the future aristocrats and kings of Scotland. He was crowned David I of Scotland, on the Stone of Destiny at Scone Palace, in Scotland.

When Henry I died, some will say that David took advantage of this time of anarchy in England, to push the Scottish border further south. David would have it known that he was honouring the oath that was taken to recognise Matilda, the daughter of Henry I, David's niece, to be Queen of England. In 1136 David invaded the north of England, but Stephen forced him to submit. To keep some sort of peace with the King of Scots, Stephen grants him Carlisle.

By January 1138 David again assembles an army and invades England with a much greater force. The Balliols and Bruces, along with the Archbishop of York, now opposed him and his son, Prince Henry.

Map of Scotland
The earls and nobles of England quickly assembled at Newcastle to oppose the King of Scotland. Turstin, the Archbishop of York, although greatly debilitated by old age, conferred with King David at Roxburgh and managed to obtain a truce, at least until the return of King Stephen from Normandy. David's ambassadors demanded that Northumberland should be given to his son Henry, which Stephen utterly refused.

On the 10th of January 1138 William, the son of Duncan, nephew of King David, decided to attack the town of Wark. Just before dawn he boldly stationed, the part of the army that he commanded, around the town of Wark and attempted to storm it. David arrived with catapults and many more engines of war and surrounded the town vigorously, for three weeks.

The commander of the garrison, Jordan de Bussey and his brave men did not give up without a fight. They killed the King's standard-bearer and many others. This was holding up David's plans on heading to Northumberland, so he decided to appoint William, the son of Duncan, to take some Scots with him and make their way to Northumberland.

On the 25th of January William landed in a village called Warden, which is in the district of Hexham. He set up camp with his forces and proceeded to wait for King David to arrive. One Scot, a powerful and wealthy Scot, having advanced with the troops, decided to leave the camp with a band of his own followers. They marched along the river Tyne to the church of Hexham, with every intent to plunder, but the men from Hexham ran out and attacked them all. It was a fierce and bloody fight and soon, the Scot's men fled leaving the Scot to his fate. The men from Hexham held him down and hacked the Scot to death. When word of this slaughter reached the Scottish army, anger soon swept through it. They wanted to attack the church of Hexham and utterly destroy it and all its inhabitants. William though, anxious to preserve the church, ordered his men back to camp.

David soon followed with his son Henry, stopping at Corbridge and devastating it. The wicked acts and blasphemous doings of the Scots against God and humanity, it is said, prevailed in every town. They had no mercy on the children or the old, they spared neither sex, age or rank. They cut down pregnant women and women in childbirth. Once all the men of the villages were slain they bound and tied any females left and took them as slaves, back to Scotland.

In the wake of this, the King of Scots, cunning as he was, decided to let it be known that he was returning to his homeland with his forces. Instead, he stayed close to Roxburgh where he lies in wait for the English. . . King Stephen was coming with a military force to Wark. On hearing of the savagery from the Scots on the citizens of Northumberland, the English King now ordered for his men to cross the border into Scotland. There, they proceeded to wreak slaughter and havoc on the poor, unsuspecting people of Lothian.

David, having placed himself and his men at no great distance, ordered the citizens of Roxburgh to allow the English King into the town on his return. His plan was to watch for an opportunity to attack by night. He was confident that he would have the back up from his allies in this plot, as many of the nobles in the English army were stirring him up to this contest. Notice of the trap soon reached Stephen as he prepared to head back into England. Upon which, he was able to take a different route, narrowly avoiding a confrontation with the Scottish King.

En route back into England, Stephen made the decision to head for Bamburgh castle, another major stronghold of Matilda's supporters. Situated high above the Northumberland coastline, overlooking the religious holy island of Lindisfarne, it was strategically the best positioned fortress in the country.

The castle was held by Eustace Fitz-John, who had initially paid homage to Stephen in 1136. In doing so he was able to keep the honours and positions he had held under Henry I. Eustace was a very powerful man in the north of England and was great friends with King David, but now he found himself in an impossible situation. When David decided to invade northern England, Eustace needed to protect his own territories. The barbarous acts of the Scots saw no mercy on friend or foe. He quickly changed alliances to support David and his niece Matilda, in their campaign for the English throne.

Stephen's forces now surrounded the strongly fortified castle at Bamburgh. Eustace Fitz-John had managed to escape. With great might and main Stephen took control of the castle and immediately filled it with Royal forces.

Stephen now hastily marched on into England, while David returned to Scotland. The Knights had retired to their respective abodes for the period of lent. It was a time of fasting and penitence for most, but the King of Scots would soon return with a mightier force.

After Easter, the Scots again invaded Northumberland and destroyed all the towns at the coast which had escaped their previous onslaught. David sent his troops to Durham to commit yet more cruelties and hostilities on the people there. The King of Scots made his way to Durham castle at Norham and surrounded it, the townsmen soon surrendered and the King ordered for it to be destroyed. The Scottish King had managed to advance into England as far as Newcastle.

Meanwhile, over in Clitheroe, William, son of Duncan was slaying and ravaging when he encountered an English soldiery. William was a strong warrior and soon the English fled from the voracity of the attack. William and his men speedily gave chase, once captured, the English soldiers were put to the sword. Without delay, William took any goods that were to be had and fled. Immediately following this, the soldiers from Wark made an attack on King David's servants and carriages. After seizing all the provisions on board, they hastily drove the carriages into the town of Wark. Following this, they then proceeded to attack the King's son, Henry, killing a few of his escorts and wounding some others, the rest they took for ransom. David was furious at this, he punished the citizens of Wark by renewing his siege and destroying their crops in the fields.

Eustace Fitz-John, who had surrendered his castle at Bamburgh to King Stephen, joined forces with the Scottish king at Durham. He had temporally surrendered his castles at Alnwick and Malton to David and was now marching on towards Newcastle with the army of Scots, Picts and other English nobles who, were also against the English king. On passing Bamburgh, the stripling men inside the fortress, thinking they were safe behind the wall they had built, taunted the Scots as they passed by. This provoked the Scots into pure anger and they set about destroying the wall. Once inside they systematically killed everyone they laid hands on, but failed to get inside the castle.

Map of Northallerton
David, who had advanced into the county of Durham, was joined by men from Galloway, Cumberland and Carlisle. It is reported that the Scottish army now exceeded 26,000 men, but this has since been disputed. Stephen, being pressed by rebellions in the south of England, sent a body of cavalry up to the north, commanded by the Yorkshire baron, Bernard de Baliol. Baliol was a man who was well skilled in military tactics.

Archbishop Turstin who presided over the church of York, called a meeting of the nobles of Yorkshire which included Robert de Bruce and Bernard de Baliol. It was decided that Bruce and Baliol should try again to reason with the Scottish King by offering his son Henry, the earldom of Northumberland. The King now refused this proposal as he had not just taken up arms on his own account, but also in support of the right of his niece, Matilda. Moreover, it would have been difficult to restrain the barons and his army, who were all fired up for this contest. Archbishop Turstin, who was too old to attend the meeting with the King of Scotland, sent in his stead the Bishop of Orkney. The bishop had taken confessions from the barons and their declarations of contrition which gave them absolution.

The English now marched to Northallerton, arriving at a plane belonging to the franchise of St Cuthbert, in the county of Durham.

On Cutton Moor, near Northallerton, on the 22nd of August 1138, the English standard was erected. It was a pole as tall as a ship, fitted into a high four-wheeled carriage. On the top of the pole was a cross containing a consecrated host enclosed in a silver pyxis. Below waved the banners of St Peter of York, St John of Beverley and St Wilfred of Rippon.

Walter L'Espec, a judicious and experienced warrior was, by unanimous consent, appointed Commander in Chief of the English army. The other Chiefs present were William de Albemarle, Earl Walter de Gant, Robert de Bruce, Roger de Mowbray, William de Percy, Bernard de Baliol, Richard de Courccy, William Fossard, Robert de Stuthaville, Ilbert de Lacy along with his father, Robert de Lacy and Geoffrey Halsalin. William Peverel from the county of Nottingham and Robert de Ferrers from Derbyshire also arrived with their troops.

The whole of the English army now surrounded the standard. The horses were sent some distance away so as not to be frightened from the cries of the fallen. It also prevented anyone who had any ideas of fleeing the battle. The English had one impulse, the determination to die or conquer for their country.

David tried to surprise the English under the concealment of a thick mist. He approached close to the plane without being discovered, but the alarm was soon raised. To gain time, Robert de Bruce was again dispatched to the King of Scots to bring about an adjustment without any bloodshed.

Bruce spoke with eloquence as he urged the Scottish King to think about his own interest by securing the friendship of the barons, who could be more depended on than many of his own rebellious subjects. He pricked his conscience with the knowledge that he will be shedding innocent blood. Finally, bursting into tears, Bruce declared his heart was broken to think of it being necessary to raise his arm against his dear master and patron, by whose side he used to fight, whom he had spent his youth with and the hours of festivities they have had together. To have to now see his benefactor and friend exposed to the dangers of war or the dishonour of having to flee, broke him. The King also wept, but his army was impatient to engage a fierce and bloody battle with the English. Suddenly, William, the son of Duncan bellowed;-
"Thou art a false traitor, Bruce!"
'these half naked Glaswegians'
'these half naked Glaswegians' 
The King, startled by this sudden outburst, quickly came back to his original way of thinking. He stopped weeping and shrugged off Bruce's pleas. As Robert de Bruce left, he once again renounced his homage to the Scottish king.

David now advanced with his troops in a battle array, across the plane on Cutton Moor. Leading the formation, were the Glaswegian leaders, Ulgeric and Donald. The Scots had demanded, by right, to be on the front line, although David felt apprehensive about this decision. Knowing what the Scots were going to be up against, he had intended for his men at arms and archers to be on the front line.
"Why, King," said the Scots, "do you dread those iron tunics which you see yonder? We have sides of iron, breasts of brass, minds void of fear, whose feet know not what it is to flee, or backs to feel a wound. Of what good to the French at Clithero were their mail corselets!"
Seeing the King was inclined to follow the advice of his nobles, Malise, Earl of Strathem, explained strongly;-
"Why, King, do you yield to the wishes of these Frenchmen, not one of whom, with their armour, will go beyond me, though named, in the battle today!"
Irritated by these words, Alan of Perci, a valiant solder, turning to the Earl, replied;-
"You have spoken bold words, which, for your life you cannot make good!"
To end the altercation, David granted the place of honour to the men of Galloway. He knew, the English army with their armour, would be no match for these half naked Glaswegians, but after the battle at Clitherow, the confidence of the Scots had risen greatly. With a much heavy heart, David eventually agreed.

The second line consisted of the men at arms, the archers and the men of Cumberland and Teviotdale, who were led by the intrepid Prince Henry. Henry was aided by Eustace Fitz-John from the north of England. The third division was composed of the troops of Lothian with the Islanders and volunteers. The King himself commanded the reserves, composed of selected Scots and men from Moray. His bodyguards were a band of English and French knights.


With the English army now formed in one solid mass around the standard, the Scots needed to take a deep breath at the sight laid out in front of them. The English knights had dismounted and mingled in with the archers on the front line. It was now or never for the Scots.

Instantaneously, shouting their war-cry, 'Albaneigh', the Glaswegians valiantly, rushed across the plane towards the enemy. The onslaught was tremendous, taking a few of the English by surprise. Swords clashed against the English shields as the Scots tried to break through the enemy lines. The English, who were well organised in military tactics, locked their shields and moved in one solid unit. This gave them strength as one, in order to fend off their attackers.

The Scots and Picts resisted the English for the first two hours of the battle, even though the English arrows were piercing their bodies with ease. Urgeric and Donald tragically fell. After the death of their Chieftains, the troops on the front line were thrown into panic. Prince Henry quickly stepped in and charged at the head of the English cavalry, he pierced through the English squadron and scattered the troops who were guarding the horses. The Glaswegians followed his course and now started to press the enemy hard, but in that momentous moment, when victory seemed close for the Scottish army, an English soldier cut off the head from one of the slain and raising it high, shouted;-
"The head of the King of the Scots!"
This report elevated the English, but spread despair through the Scots. The Glaswegians threw away their arms and fled the field. The third line fled without attacking their enemy at all. The King, attempting to stop the panic, leaped from his horse and brought up the reserves, but it was too late. The battle was lost. In conclusion, the nobles begged for King David to bring in the horses so they could march off with their ranks unbroken.

The King of Scots now headed for Carlisle with the remains of his tattered army. The stragglers from the battle tried to flee back to their homeland, but got caught out by the fierce anger of the local villagers in the surrounding areas. They sought revenge for all the violence that had been inflicted on them and massacred the stragglers wherever they were found. Moreover, the Scots and the Picts, when they encountered each other, while trying to retreat, fought together and ultimately destroyed themselves.

David, being extremely anxious for the safety of his son, was relieved when Prince Henry finally arrived at Carlisle, three days later. He had beaten a hasty retreat from the battlefield, narrowly escaping the pursuit of his enemies. The King, at once, summoned all the men who fled the field, to his presence. Great fines were imposed on them and oaths taken that in every conflict and danger they would faithfully stand by him and for him. From thereon, he subsequently sent them to Wark where the siege of Wark castle was still being fought.

King Stephen, on hearing of his victory at the Battle of the Standard, was elated by the news. He rewarded William de Albemarle to an Earl in Yorkshire, and Robert de Ferrers to an Earl in Derbyshire.

After several months had passed, winter had arrived, the people of Wark were starving and weak. They finally surrendered after some negotiations. On entering the town, there was found to be nothing in it to eat except one live horse and a salted horse. The King agreed to give the inhabitants 24 horses and dismissed them with their arms, but he utterly destroyed the town.


On hearing of the inhumanities and barbaric behaviours, from both sides of the border, Pope Innocent II immediately sent a papal legate called Albericus, the Bishop of Ostia, to England. Albericus was a very clever and virtuous man, he observed the reprehensible actions of the two Kings and was deeply saddened by what he had witnessed across these lands.

En route to Scotland, he took with him two assistants, Robert, Bishop of Hereford and Richard, the first abbot of Fountains. They arrived at Hexham only to find that three days earlier the place had been raided by Edgar, son of Earl Cospatric of Dunbar, with a band of followers. They raided the once used camp of the King of Scotland and seized the plunder from a village in Hexham. They had also attacked a village belonging to the Brethren of Hexham. Having killed three of their men and seizing all the wares, they dishonoured the Prior with insults and mockery, who only happened to be there that night, by chance.

The legate pleaded with King David, at Carlisle and managed to persuade him to make amends for this violence. Then, for three days, with the bishops and nobles of Scotland, who by the King's order, had met the legate, he set about correcting what needed correction and decreed what needed to be decreed. He also made the Scots and Picts surrender all their prisoners to Carlisle and give them their freedom. None of them should again dare to violate churches or commit slaughter on the female sex, on boys or old men. Throwing himself at the feet of the King, Albericus forced him to cease from hostility until the feast of St Martin. The King agreed to the terms, the castle at Wark had been reduced to famine so the King of Scotland returned to his country more like a conqueror rather than one whose army had been so quickly defeated. Albericus, having disposed of these matters, returned to the church of Hexham and on to the south of England.

The whole of Northumberland had been reduced to an empty desert. It is said that a man could wander around for days and not see a single soul. The ones who had survived, had either sought asylum in the monasteries or were lurking in the wild. The stronger folks had shut themselves up within the towns. So, by authority of the apostolic order, on 6th Dec 1138, the Bishops, Abbots and Nobles of the kingdom met the legate, Albericus, in London, at Westminster.

Through the mediation of Queen Matilda, the wife of King Stephen, who was also a niece of King David, a peace was concluded, at Durham, between the two kings. By this treaty, Stephen surrendered to Henry, besides what he already possessed in England, the whole Earldom of Northumberland, except for the fortresses of Newcastle and Bamborough, which Stephen was to retain. To compensate for these, Prince Henry received more lands in the south of England. It was also made clear to Henry that the laws established in Northumberland should be preserved.


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