Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Cession of Lothian

It is said that Eadgar was once rowed by six kings on the river Dee. The story, though probably untrue, sets forth his power not only over his own immediate subjects but over the whole island. His title of Peaceful shows that at least he lived on good terms with his neighbours.

There is reason to believe that he was able to do this because he followed out the policy of Eadmund in singling out the king of Scots as the ruler whom it was most worth his while to conciliate. Eadmund had given over Strathclyde to one king of Scots. Eadgar, it is said—and probably with truth—gave over Lothian to another. Lothian was then the name of the whole of the northern part of Bernicia stretching from the Cheviots to the Forth. In Eadred's time the Scots had occupied Eadwinesburh (Edinburgh), the northern border fortress of Bernicia, and after this the land to the south of that fortress must have been difficult to defend against them.

It is therefore likely that the story is true that Eadgar ceded Lothian to Kenneth, who was then king of the Scots, especially as it would account for the peaceful character of his reign. Kenneth in accepting the gift no doubt engaged to be faithful to Eadgar, though it is impossible to say what was the exact nature of his obligation.

It is of more importance that a Celtic king ruled thenceforward over an English people as well as over his own Celtic Scots, and that ultimately his descendants became more English than Celtic in character, through the attraction exercised upon them by their English subjects.

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