02 January 2015

Today's Princess: Ada de Warenne

Ada's father-in-law David I and her oldest son Malcolm IV
(Should have posted on 1/2/15)

In the turbulent world of medieval Scotland, life could be very uncertain. So it was that Ada de Warenne found herself as the widowed mother of seven children when she was in her early thirties. The daughter of a distinguished noble English house, Ada likely had little choice when it came to husbands, but she drew a regal straw when she was married off to the King of Scotland's son Henry as part of the Treaty of Durham in 1139, which brought peace between England and Scotland so that England's King Stephen could concentrate on trying to defeat his cousin Empress Matilda, who was asserting her claim to that throne. (Read my post about her in Royal Escape Artist.) Through Henry, Ada became the Countess of Huntingdon. She fulfilled her wifely duties with the regular delivery of royal children. She never became queen of Scotland because her husband died shortly before his father. Upon the death of her father-in-law King David I, the throne passed to her 12-year-old son as King Malcolm IV. His reign was far from harmonious, suffering both from poor health and quarrelsome nobles, and he died suddenly at the age of 24 while Ada was in the middle of planning his wedding. Her second son, better known as William the Lion, assumed the throne and earned the distinction of having Scotland's second longest reign (nearly 50 years).

Ada spent much of her widowhood at her dower estate in Haddington. She is best remembered for her generous support of the church, particularly making grants of land and money to the Blackfriars and the Cistercian nuns in the area.

Ada lived to be nearly 60 years old. The Scottish royal House of Bruce descended from her third son David while the House of Stewart descended from her daughter Marjorie.

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