Gilbert of Galloway (1126-1185)

(Relation to me: 23rd Great Grandfather)

          Before I begin writing about Gilbert I want you to know that since many names and places are in other languages, I am going to use the English translation as much as I can. Also being that I am in America, I have an American keyboard for my computer, and I am not sure how to use all of the proper accent marks for letters to make words in proper spellings. So, if you are from another country please understand if names or places or anything else are not spelled correctly in your language. Thank you.

           Gilbert was known as Gille Brigte, Gillbrigte, Gille Brighde, Gilbridge, Gilbride, and other names. Here I refer to him as Gilbert, which is the French translation of his name. He was the Lord of Galloway in Scotland. Gilbert was one of the two sons of the great Fergus, builder of the “Kingdom” of Galloway.

          In the struggle between Gilbert and Uchtred that had risen after the death of Fergus, Gilbert had emerged the stronger of the two. When Galloway was split among the two men, Gilbert was left the western part. This side of Galloway was less exposed to the armies of the Scottish and English kings.

          We don’t really know for certain who Gilbert had married, but Richard Oram suggest the strong likelihood that his main wife was the daughter of Donnchad II, the Earl of Fife and most importantly the native lord in Scotland. Whoever he had married, the couple would have two children together, Donnchad (Duncan) and Mael Coluim.

Approach to England

          As stated before Gilbert and his brother Uchtred had shared the lordship of Galloway from 1161 until 1174. Gilbert would have the west and Uchtred the east. In 1174, King William of Scotland, nicknamed “The Lion” had invaded England in an attempt to regain Northumberland. He brought with him two men, our Gilbert and his brother Uchtred. During the invasion, King William was caught off-guard and was captured while he attacked the castle at Alnwick.

          A man by the name of Benedict who was from Peterborough reported that:

“When they heard that their lord the king of Scotland was taken, they immediately returned with their Galwegians to their own lands, and at once expelled from Galloway all the bailiffs and guards whom the king of Scotland had set over them; and all the English and French whom they could seize they slew; and all the defenses and castles which the king of Scotland had established in their land they besieged, captured, and destroyed, and slew all whom they took within them.”

          Even though there were implications of both Uchtred and Gilbert being involved, it’s clear that only Gilbert had participated and his brother had opposed him. Benedict would go on to tell us that, in relation to that same year, Gilbert’s son, Mael Coluim had attacked Uchtred on an island in Galloway. His son would capture his uncle, then he blinded, castrated, and cut his tongue out. What Gilbert did next may have changed British history forever.

          Gilbert sent a messenger to Henry II and asked him for direct lordship, meaning without the Scottish king being a middle man. Henry would send a delegation to investigate. The delegation would consist of Roger de Hoveden and Robert de Vaux, thanks to these men we still have a record of the embassy.

          Benedict of Peterborough would go on to report that Gilbert would offer the King of England a one time payment of 2000 marks, a yearly tribute of 500 cows and 500 swine if the king would “remove them [the Galwegians] from servitude of the the King of Scotland.” However, when the delegation had found out about the treatment of Uchtred, Henry’s cousin, they rejected the request from Gilbert. His treatment of his brother would effectively prevent any deal from occurring with anyone else. For now, Henry and King William signed the Treaty of Falaise. Gilbert was forced to come to terms with the two kings.

          Two years later, in 1176, Gilbert went to England and was fined 1000 marks by King Henry II and to prove that he would remain on his best behavior, he gave his son, Duncan, as a hostage.

Gilbert’s Reign

         Gilbert’s reign is characterized by a large degree of hostility towards the Scottish kings. His brother, Uchtred, was different, he was against any incoming Normans, and maintained a more Gaelic following. This policy would make him more popular in the province of Galloway, however it would alienate him from his normal Franco-Gaelic overlords, King Mael Coluim IV and then King William. William would cultivate the loyalty of Uchtred’s son Lochlann (Roland) though and would use him as a pawn for control over the Galwegian lordship.

          In the 1180s, sometime before 1185, the tension between Gilbert and King William was very high. Gilbert was known to have made frequent raids in the Scottish controlled territory of east Galloway.

          Then in 1185, Gilbert met his demise while he was at war with King William. His rather timely death, with his son still in Henry II’s custody, had paved the way for William to install Lochlann as Gilbert’s successor.

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