DAVID I., THE SORE SAINT—THE BATTLE
OF THE STANDARD
Like Edgar, Alexander I. had no children, so he was
succeeded by another brother, David, the youngest son
of Malcolm Canmore.
While Alexander was King, David had lived much
in England with his sister Matilda, who had married
Henry I., the King of England. There he had married
a rich and beautiful English lady, who, like his sister the
Queen, was called Matilda.
This lady Matilda had a great deal of land and money
both in Huntingdon and in Northumberland, so David
was an Enghsh lord as well as King of Scotland, and was
called the Earl of Huntingdon.
For some years after David came to the throne, he
continued to live in England, leaving the affairs of his
kingdom to the Constable of Scotland.
Having lived so long in England, David had many
friends, both Norman and English, and although after the
death of Malcolm Canmore the English had been driven
out of Scotland, now both Enghsh and Norman knights
came again and settled there. David gave these friends
lands, so many had possessions in both countries.
About this time the King of England, who was called
Henry I., had a great grief. His son William, of whom
he was very fond, was drowned crossing from Normandy
THE BATTLE OF THE STANDARD 71
Henry had no other son, so he made all the nobles swear
that when he was dead they would accept his daughter
Matilda as Queen.
This is a third Matilda. There was Matilda, Queen
of England ; Matilda, her daughter, Princess of England ;
Matilda, Queen of Scotland, and there was yet a fourth
Matilda, the wife of Stephen, who was afterwards King
All the great nobles of England promised what King
Henry asked, and King David of Scotland was the first
to take the oath. He took the oath, not as King of
Scotland, but as Earl of Huntingdon. For although
within his own land of Scotland he could do as he liked,
as Earl of Huntingdon he was bound to obey the King of
England, just as on his part the King of England, as Duke
of Normandy, was bound to obey the King of France.
But no sooner was Henry dead than the English lords
forgot their promise, and instead of putting Matilda upon
the throne, they chose Stephen, Henry‘s nephew, to be
But David was true to his promise, and he marched
into England to fight for his niece Matilda. His wild
troops ravaged and plundered in a fearful manner, the
knighthood of England rose against them, and in 1188
A.D. a great battle was fought.
Stephen’s army was small, but it was made up of
English and Norman knights and soldiers, clad in steel,
fully armed, and perfectly drilled.
The Scottish army was large, but many of the soldiers
were half savage men from the far north, some were wild
men of Galloway, only a few were well-drilled and well-
armed like the Normans.
These last David wished to place in the centre, in the
place of honour, where the fighting would be fiercest,
72 SCOTLAND’S STORY
for he knew that they could best resist the Norman
But when the men of Galloway heard what the King
meant to do, they were very angry, and demanded that
they should be placed in the centre of the army. ‘ Why
do you put such trust in iron and steel ? ‘ cried one ; ‘ I
wear no armour, but I dare swear I will go as far to
morrow with my bare breast as any clad in steel.’
‘ You boast,’ sneered a Norman knight, ‘ of what you
dare not do.’
‘ My arm shall prove my boast,’ came the fierce reply.
And so the quarrel grew until King David was
forced to yield, and give the place of honour to the brave,
but wild and untrained, men of Galloway.
But some of the Norman knights who were now on
Stephen‘s side, had been David’s friends and vassals. They
had possessions both in England and in Scotland, and they
did not wish to fight So now, as a last hope, two Norman
barons rode out from the English lines and went to beg
David to make peace. These two knights were Robert
de Bruce and Bernard de Baliol. These are names you
must remember, for the descendants of these men had
much to do with Scottish history in after times. It is
interesting too, to remember that they were Norman.
Robert de Bruce was an old man and he was specially
anxious to avoid a battle. ‘ You are to blame,’ he said to
David, ‘ for all the wicked things your soldiers do. You
have said that you are sorry for them. Prove that you
really mean what you say, and take your wild soldiers
back to your own land. It will be better for you, for
although we are not many we are very resolute. Do
not drive brave men to despair. My dearest master,’ he
cried, at last bursting into tears, ‘ you have been my friend
and companion. I have been young with you and grown
THE BATTLE OF THE STANDARD 78
old in your service. It wrings my heart to think that
you may be defeated, and that in an unjust war.’
Tears came into King David’s eyes as he listened to
the words of his old friend, and he was ready to yield to
his entreaties and turn back. But one of the fierce
Galloway men who stood by exclaimed angrily, ‘ Bruce,
you are a false traitor. You have broken your oath to
your King. Do not listen to him,’ he added, turning to
More bitter words passed, and Bruce, furious at being
called a traitor, left the Scottish camp, swearing that he
would never again be subject to the King of Scotland.
Nothing now could stop the fight.
The English were drawn up in close ranks round their
standard. This standard was a ship‘s mast set upon a
wagon. At the top of the mast was a large cross, and
under the cross a silver box, containing holy relics. Round
it were hung four splendid embroidered banners of four
A gallant old priest, too old to fight (for in those days
priests often fought), blessed the standard and encouraged
the soldiers with brave words, telling them that this was
a holy war, and that God would reward everlastingly
those who died in it.
Then the English lords grasped each other by the
hand, and swore to fight for their holy standard, or die.
‘ I swear that on this day I will overcome the Scots, or
perish,’ cried one old knight.
‘ So swear we all,’ cried the others, and the air rang
with their shouts.
The knights then resolved to fight on foot, and they
dismounted and sent their horses away, so that none
might be tempted to fly, but must conquer or die where
The Scots now rushed forward, and the sound of their
war cry was like the roar of thunder, ‘ Scotland ! Scot
land ! Scotland for ever !’ they shouted.
So fierce was their onslaught that for a moment the
steel-clad English warriors seemed to waver. But it was
only for a moment. Again and again the Scots threw
themselves upon the enemy. But it was like the break
ing of waves upon a rocky shore. The ranks of Normans
and English stood firm.
Then Prince Henry, King David’s young and daring
son, galloped forward with his horsemen. Fiercely and
swiftly they came dashing onward. Through the English
ranks they charged, breaking them as if they had been
cobwebs, scattering knights and soldiers, and chasing them
for several miles from the field.
It seemed as if the victory was won. But suddenly
an EngUsh soldier held up a head upon the point of his
spear, crying, ‘ Behold the King of Scots.’
It was not really King David’s head. He was not
killed nor even wounded. But seized with sudden fear,
the Scots broke and fled.
It was in vain that King David, taking off his helmet,
rode up and down among them bare-headed, to show that
he was yet alive. All was panic and confusion. The
day was lost.
And so, when Prince Henry returned from chasing
the English he found the Scots flying from the field.
‘ We have done what men may,’ he said to his men.
‘We have conquered as much as we could. Now we
must save ourselves if we can.’
Then his men, throwing away their banners that they
might not be known, mixed with the English soldiers
and so passed through their ranks. At last, after three
days, having had many adventures and escapes, they
THE BATTLE OF THE STANDARD 75
reached the Scottish camp. Great was King David’s joy
when his son returned, for he had begun to sorrow for
him as lost.
Although the Scots had been defeated in the Battle
of the Standard, as it was called from the famous English
standard, they did not leave England. It was not until
some months later that peace was made, and then the
terms which the Scots made were so good that they seem
to have lost little by this battle. But the cause of
Matilda, Queen of England, appeared to be hopeless for
the time at least, and although David helped her again,
he was never able to win her kingdom for her.
King David was not always fighting. He did much
besides, and was a good and wise King. The chief
thing for which he is remembered is that he built many
churches and monasteries. Indeed he spent so much
money in this way, that a King who reigned long after
him said that David was a ‘sore saint for the crown.’
By that, this King meant to say that David had spent so
much money on churches that he made the country poor.
And the kings who came after him were obliged to tax
the people heavily in order to get money to pay for
But we must remember that in those far-off days the
monasteries were the only schools and hospitals, and the
monks and nuns the only teachers, doctors, and nurses.
So in building monasteries King David also built schools
King David was a just man, and he protected the poor
and helpless. He never lost his temper. He was always
kind and gentle. The poor knew that he would always
listen to their sorrows and complaints, and deal justly with
them. So they did not fear to go to the King when
ever they were in distress.
It is told of him how one day he was going to hunt.
His foot was already in the stirrup, when a poor man
came to him with a tale of sorrow and injustice.
The King immediately sent away his horse, and return
ing to his palace, listened to what the poor man had to
say and saw that justice was done to him.
But, although David was so kind to the poor and
talked to them as if he were one of themselves, he ruled
his lords and knights very sternly, and made them treat
him with all the reverence and respect due to a King.
At length a great sorrow fell upon this wise and good
King. He too, like Henry I. of England, lost his only
son. Prince Henry, young, handsome, and brave, became
ill and died, and there was great mourning and wailing in
all Scotland, for he had been much loved.
King David was growing old, and he knew that he
could not live much longer. So calling to him Duncan,
Earl of Fife, he bade him take Prince Malcolm, Henry’s
eldest son, and travel with him through the land, showing
him to the people as their future King.
Prince Malcolm was little more than ten years old,
but for the love they had to his father the people wel
comed him, and swore to be true to him as their King.
Soon after this, one day King David’s servants found
him kneeling as if in prayer. His head was bent, and his
hands clasped upon his breast. He was dead.
King David died in 1153 a.d., having reigned twenty-
nine years. He was succeeded by his grandson Malcolm,
who was only eleven years old. Malcolm was allowed to
take possession of the crown quietly. But in those far-
off times there was nearly always rebellion when a child
came to the throne. So very soon a rebellion, headed by
a powerful chief called Somerled, broke out For three
years there was war, but at last the rebels were subdued.
MALCOLM ‘THE MAIDEN’ 77
As King Malcolm was so young, some one must at
first have ruled for him. But strange to say, we do not
know who this was. Malcolm reigned for twelve years,
but very little of importance to Scotland’s Story happened
during that time.
King David had possessed a great deal of land in
England. The King who was now on the throne of
England was very fond of power. He did not like to
think that so much of his land was in the hands of the
Scottish King, especially as that King was only a boy.
So he sent to Scotland and asked Malcolm to come to
England to visit him.
Malcolm went, and somehow or other Henry II., as
this King was called, persuaded, or forced him, to give
up his claim to all his English lands, except the earldom
of Huntingdon. In spite of this, Malcolm seems to have
been fond of King Henry. He spent much of his time
with him, and even went with him to fight against the
This made the Scottish people very angry, for the
Scots and the French had been friends for many years.
It was perhaps for this reason that some of the people
broke out in rebellion again.
Malcolm died in 1165 a.d. He was only twenty-four
years old when he died, and he was called ‘ The Maiden,’
because he had a beautiful face, and looked more like a
girl than a man.
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