The Heirs to the Conquest

William Rufus at War with the Scots

King Malcolm of Scotland did homage to Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror, but not to William’s second son, William Rufus whose ascent to the throne of England marked the beginning of a period of strife on the Scottish border. In May 1091 Malcolm invaded Northumbria, but when confronted by William and Robert he backed down and did homage to the English king.

The Norman keep at Carlisle castle [Photo: Patrick Ottaway]In 1092 William captured Carlisle from the Scots and built a great castle to control one of the main roads between England and Scotland. Malcolm resented this intrusion on his territory, but in a raid on England in November 1093 he was ambushed and killed by the Earl of Northumbria. After a brief interregnum Edgar, Malcolm’s son, became King of Scotland. Landholding was now re-organised on the Anglo-Norman model. The Scottish church was reformed according to principles approved by Rome. The border between England and Scotland did not, however, become a fixed line but a zone in which local lords built castles to control their lands and the routes of communication.

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