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General History of the Highlands
Malcolm I to Malcom II 1020


Malcolm I, the son of Donald IV, obtained the abdicated throne. He was a prince of great abilities and prudence, and Edmund of England courted his alliance by ceding Cumbria, the consisting of Cumberland and part of Westmorland, to him, in the year 945, on condition that he would defend that northern county, and become an ally of Edmund. Edred, the brother and successor of Edmund, accordingly applied for, and obtained the aid of Malcolm against Anlaf, king of Northumberland, whose country, according to the barbarous practice of the times, he wasted, and carried off the people with their cattle. Malcolm, after putting down an insurrection of the Moray-men under Cellach, their Maormor, or chief, whom he slew, was sometimes thereafter slain, as is supposed, at Ulurn or Auldearn in Moray, by one of these men, in revenge for the death of his chief.

Indulph, the son of Constantine III, succeeded the murdered monarch in the year 953. He sustained many severe conflicts with the Danes, and ultimately lost his life in 961, after a reign of eight years, in a successful action with these pirates, on the moor which lies to the westward of Cullen.

Duff, the son of Malcolm I, now mounted the throne; but Culen, the son of Indulph, laid claim to the sceptre which his father had wielded. The parties met at Drum Crup (probably Crief), and, after a doubtful struggle, in which Doncha, the Abbot of Dunkeld, and Dubdou, the Maormor of Athole, the partisans of Culen, lost their lives, victory declared for Duff. But this triumph was of short duration, for Duff was afterwards obliged to retreat from Forteviot into the north, and was assassinated at Forres in the year 965, after a brief and unhappy reign of four years and a half.

Culen, the son of Indulph, succeeded, as a matter of course, to the crown of Duff, which he stained by his vices. He and his brother Eocha were slain in Lothian, in an action with the Britons of Strathclyde in 970, after an inglorious reign of four years and a half. During his reign Edinburgh was captured from the English, this being the first known step in the progress of the gradual extension of the Scottish kingdom between the Forth and the Tweed.

Kenneth III, son of Malcolm I, and brother of Duff, succeeded Culen the same year. He waged a successful war against the Britons of Srathclyde, and annexed their territories to his kingdom. During his reign the Danes meditiated an attack upon Forteviot, or Dunkeld, for the purposes of plunder, and, with this view, they sailed up the Tay with a numerous fleet. Kenneth does not appear to have been fully prepared, being probably not aware of the intentions of the enemy; but collecting as many of his chiefs and their followers as the spur of the occasion would allow, he met the Danes at Luncarty, in the vicinity of Perth. Malcolm, the Tanist, prince of Cumberland, it is said, commanded the right wing of the Scottish army; Duncan, the Maormor of Athole, had the charge of the left; and Kenneth, the king, commanded the centre. The Danes with their battle-exes made dreadful havoc, and compelled the Scottish army to give way; but the latter was rallied by the famous Hay, the traditional ancestor of the Kinnoul family, and finally repulsed the Danes, who, as usual, fled to their ships. Burton thinks the battle of Luncarty "a recent invention".

The defeat of the Danes enabled Kenneth to turn his attention to the domestic concerns of his kingdom. He appears to have directed his thoughts to bring about a complete change in the mode of succession to the crown, in order to perpetuate in and confine the crown to his own descendants. This alternation could not be well accomplished as long as Malcolm, the son of Duff, the Tanist of the kingdom, and price of Cumberland, stood in the way; and, accordingly, it has been said that Kenneth was the cause of the untimely death of prince Malcolm, who is stated to have been poisoned. It is said that Kenneth got an act passed, that in future the son, or nearest male heir, of the king, should always succeed to the throne; and that in case that son or heir were not of age at the time of the king's demise, that a person of rank should be chosen Regent of the kingdom, until the minor attained his fourteenth year, when he should assume the reins of government; but whether such a law was really passed on the moot-hill of Scone or not, of which we have no evidence, certain it is that two other prices succeeded to the crown before Malcolm the son of Kenneth. Kenneth, after a reign of twenty four years, was, it is said, in 994 assassinated at Fettercairn by Finella, the wife of the Maormor of the Mearns, and the daughter of Cunechat, the Maormor of Angus, in revenge for having put her only son to death. It has been thought that till this time the Maormorship of Angus was in some measure independent of the Scottish crown, never having thoroughly yielded to its supremacy, that the death of the young chief took place in course of an effort on the part of Kenneth for its reduction, and that Kenneth himself was on a visit to the quarter at the time of his death, for exacting the usual royal privileges of cain and cuairt, or a certain tax and certain provision for the king, due by the chief or landholders of the kingdom.

Constantine IV, son of Culen, succeeded; but his right ws disputed by Kenneth, the Grim, i.e. strong, son of Duff. The dispute was decided at Rathveramon, i.e. the castle at the mouth of the Almond, near Perth, where Constantine lost his life in the year 995.

Kenneth IV, the son of Duff, now obtained the sceptre which he had coveted; but was disturbed in the possession thereof by Malcolm, the son of Kenneth III, heir presumptive to the crown. Malcolm took the field in 1003, and decided his claim to the crown in a bloody battle at Monivaird, in Strathearn, in which Kenneth, after a noble resistance, received a mortal wound.

Malcolm II now ascended the vacant throne, but was not destined to enjoy repose. At the very beginning of his reign he was defeated at Durham by the army of the Earl of Northumberland, under his son Uchtred, who ordered a selection of good-looking Scotch heads to be stuck on the walls of Durham.

The Danes, who had now obtained a firm footing in England, directed their attention in an especial manner to Scotland, which they were in hopes of subduing. Sigurd, the Earl of Orkney, carried on a harassing and predatory warfare on the shores of Moray Frith, which he continued even after a matrimonial alliance he formed with Malcolm, by marrying his daughter; but this was no singular trait in the character of a Vikingr, who plundered friends and foes with equal pleasure. The scene of Sigurd's operations was chosen by his brother northmen for making a descent which they effected near Speymouth. They carried fire and sword through Moray, and laid siege to the fortress of Nairn, one of the strongest in the north. The Danes wee forced to raise the siege for a time, by Malcolm, who encamped his army in a plain near Kilflos or Kinloss. In this position he was attacked by the invaders, and, after a severe action, was forced to retreat, after being seriously wounded.

Malcom, in 1010, marched north with his army, and encamped at Mortlach. The Danes advanced to meet the Scots, and a dreadful and fierce conflict ensued, the result of which was long dubious. At length the northmen gave way and victory declared for Malcolm. Had the Danes succeeded they would in all probability have obtained as permanent a footing in North Britain as they did in England; but the Scottish kings were determined, at all hazards, never to suffer them to pollute the soil of Scotland by allowing them even the smallest settlement in their dominions. In gratitude to God for his victory, Malcolm endowed a religious house at Mortlach, with its church erected near the scene of the action. Maclauchlan, however, maintains that this church was planted by Malcolm Ceanmore.

Many other conflicts are narrated with minute detail by later chroniclers as having taken place between Malcolm and the Danes, but it is very doubtful how far these are worthy of credit. That Malcolm had enough to do to prevent the Danes from overrunning Scotland and subduing the inhabitants can readily be believed; but as we have few authentic particulars concerning the conflicts which took place, it would serve no purpose to give the imaginary details invented by comparatively recent historians.

Some time after this Malcolm was engaged in a war with the Northumbrians, and, having led his army, in 1018, to Carham, near Werk, on the southern bank of the Tweed, where he was met by Uchtred, the Earl of Northumberland, a desperate battle took place, which was contested with great valour on both sides. The success was doubtful on either side, though Uchtred claimed a victory; but he did not long enjoy the fruits of it, as he was soon thereafter assassinated when on his road to pay obeisance to the great Canute. Endulf, the brother and successor of Uchtred, justly dreading the power of the Scots, was induced to cede Lothian to Malcolm for ever, who, on this occasion, gave oblations to the churches and gifts to the clergy, and they in return transmitted his name to posterity. He was designed, par exellence, by the Latin chroniclers, rex victoriosissumus, by St. Berchan, the Forranach or destroyer.

The last struggle with which Malcolm was threatened, was with the celebrated Canute, who, for some cause or other not properly explained, entered Scotland in the year 1031; but these powerful parties appear not to have come to action. Canute's expedition appears, from what followed, to have been fitted out to compel Malcolm to do homage for Cumberland, for it is certain that Malcolm engaged to fulfil the conditions on which his predecessors had held that country, and that Canute thereafter returned to England.

But the reign of Malcolm was not distinguished by foreign wars, but by civil contests between rival chiefs. Finlegh, the Maormor of Ross, and the father of Macbeth, was assassinated in 1020, and about twelve years thereafter, Maolbride, the Maormor of Moray, grandfather of Lulach, was, in revenge for Finlegh's murder, burnt within his castle, with fifty of his men.

At length, after a splendid reign of thirty years, Malcolm slept with his fathers, and his body was transferred to Iona, and interred with due solemnity among the remains of his predecessors. By some authorities he is said to have been assassinated at Glammis.

Malcolm was undoubtedly a prince of great acquirements. He made many changes and some improvements in the internal policy of his kingdom, and in him religion always found a guardian and protector. But although Malcolm is justly entitled to this praise, he by no means came up to the standard of perfection assigned him by fiction. In his reign Scotland appears to have reached its present boundary on the south, the Tweed, and Strathclyde was incorporated with the rest of the kingdom. Malcolm was the first who was called Rex Scotia, and might justly claim the be so designated, seeing that he was the first to hold sway over nearly the whole of present Scotland - the only portions where his authority appears to have been seriously disputed being those in which the Danes had established themselves.


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