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Battle of Alnwick 1174

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  • Sir Ranulph "Crusader" de Glanville, Chief Justiciar of England (c.1120 - 1190)
    Ranulf de Glanvill (sometimes written Glanvil or Glanville) (died 1190) was chief justiciar of England during the reign of King Henry II and reputed author of a book on English law. He was born at ...
  • William "The Lion", King of Scots (c.1143 - 1214)
    Born in 1143, William the Lion was the younger brother of Malcolm IV. A year after his accession, he went to Normandy with Henry II and later spent Easter 1170 at Windsor. In 1174, however, he joined...

Battle of Alnwick 1174

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Date:

13 July 1174

Location:

Near Alnwick, Northumberland, England.

Result

English victory

Belligerents

Kingdom of Scotland

with Flemish mercenaries

  • Strength

William's bodyguards ±60

  • Commanders and leaders
  • Casualties and losses

All William's bodyguards were either killed or captured

  • Captives
  • William I of Scotland, also known as William the Lion, was captured by a small English force led by Ranulf de Glanvill.

English Royalists

  • Strength

Contingent of Mounted Knights ±400

  • Commanders and leaders
  • Casualties and losses

unknown

  • Captives

Causes

William inherited the title of Earl of Northumbria in 1152. but had to give up the title to King Henry II of England in 1157 and was trying to regain his lost territory.

In 1173 Henry II was occupied in fighting against his sons in the Revolt of 1173–1174. William saw his opportunity and invaded Northumbria, advancing on Newcastle where he found the castle too strong to allow him to take the town. He also attacked Prudhoe Castle where he found the defences were too strong and returned to Scotland.

In 1174 William again invaded Northumbria with a larger army, including a contingent of Flemish mercenaries. He avoided Newcastle but attacked Prudhoe Castle, (which had been strengthened since the previous year). After a siege of three days William moved north to besiege Alnwick. He divided his army into three columns, one of which under the command of Duncan II, Earl of Fife, attacked Warkworth and set fire to the church of St Lawrence with a large number of refugees inside.

Overview

William allowed his army to spread out and on the night of 11 July, a party of ± four hundred mounted knights led by Ranulf de Glanvill headed towards Alnwick from Newcastle. This small fighting force included several knights who had previously fought against the Scots. They reached Alnwick shortly after dawn where William was encamped. He was only protected by a bodyguard of ± sixty fighting men. When the alarm was sounded William rushed from his tent to fight, meeting the English force head on. The fight was brief. William’s horse was killed beneath him and he was captured. His followers who had not been killed surrendered.

Aftermath

William the Lion was taken to Newcastle as captive, leaving his army to return to Scotland on their own. He was held at Newcastle for a while and then moved to the more secure location of Falaise in Normandy. Henry II took the opportunity to send an army to occupy part of scotland, including the castles of Roxburgh, Berwick, Jedburgh, Edinburgh and Stirling.

William was forced to sign the Treaty of Falaise to get his freedom, swearing an oath of allegiance to the English King and agreeing to to the garrisoning of the captured castles by English soldiers. On his return William was not popular and was attacked by a mob.

This battles was the last attempt by a Scottish king to regain lost territories in northern England.

The Treaty of Falaise lasted fifteen years until Richard the Lionheart sold the castle back to William in order to fund his crusade to the Holy Land.

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References, Sources and Further Reading

  • Scotland - The History of a Nation by Magnus Magnusson