The medieval Scottish Church held a unique position within the Catholic Church. While it was not awarded an archbishopric (Ireland had four), its ten bishoprics were conferred the status of ‘special daughters of Rome’ by the Bull Cum Universi (1192) of Pope Celestine III. This insulated the Scottish Church from the repeated attempts by its English neighbour, specifically the archbishopric of York, to secure its subservience. Earlier, King David I (r. 1124–53) had reformed the Scottish Church, promoting the foundation of Augustinian and Benedictine priories, restoring the bishoprics of Glasgow, Dunblane and Aberdeen. Through conquest, he was able to establish new bishoprics in Caithness and Carlisle. However, the dioceses of Durham and Galloway stubbornly retained their allegiance to York. In 1225, Scottish bishops gained papal permission for a provincial council of self-government. But, in 1301, English King Edward I, ‘Hammer of the Scots’, ignored a papal Bull guaranteeing Scots independence.
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