Tuesday 30 January 2018

Malcolm III Canmore, King of Scotland

Malcolm III of Scotland was one of Scotland's greatest monarchs. Before his reign, Scotland was an insular land ruled largely by local chieftains who may at times have respected royal over- lordship, but often did not.

Malcolm secured direct control over much of what today we recognise as Scotland. After the defeat of MacBeth in 1057 and of MacBeth's step son Lulach the following year, Malcolm removed the most significant form of internal opposition.

As with many 11th century monarchs he had a common- law wife; Ingibiorg Finnsdottir. She was a daughter Jarl Finn Arnesson, and widow of Thorfinn Sigurdsson, Earl of Orkney. The relationship helped secure at least peace with the Scandinavian Isles and the Kingdom of Norway.

In 1069 Malcolm married a second wife, the Anglo-Saxon Princess Margaret, elder sister of Edgar II, the last Saxon king. It is uncertain, although probable that Ingibiorg had died by that time. The marriage with Margaret formed a life-long friendship and alliance with Edgar. The Scottish king would support his brother-in-law on a number of occasions.

That alliance brought about a Norman invasion in 1072 and at the resulting Treaty of Abernethy Malcolm became Williamʼs man. This did not prevent Malcolm launching further raids south. In 1080 the Conqueror sent his eldest son Robert north, and there a New Castle was erected at the eastern end of Hadrianʼs Wall.

The death of William allowed Malcolm to throw away any deal done with William I and to again head south, probably again at the instigation of his brother-in-law Edgar. In 1091 William Rufus attempted to repeat the 1072 invasion of his father, but it was a dreadful failure for the Norman king. The Norman fleet were destroyed in a storm and the army forced into a retreat. Nevertheless a peace was achieved at the instigation of Edgar, although the initial terms were that Malcolm would hold his ‘English landsʼ not from Rufus, but from Robert. In a rare moment of brotherly solidarity Robert declined this offer, and peace was done with Rufus.

Rufus was though ill-pleased with the result. In 1092 he invaded Cumbria, then in the hands of Malcolm. But within a year Rufus had his famous near-death experience. Malcolm was sent for to meet the ailing Norman king at court in Gloucester. The purpose was for Rufus to give the Scottish king a full apology for his actions. On his way south. Malcolm helped lay the foundation stone at the new Cathedral at Durham. But in Gloucester he found a totally recovered Rufus, and a Rufus who deliberately refused to speak with the Scottish King. Malcolm was annoyed at the rebuff. He returned home, raised an army and again struck south.

Malcolm devastated the lands of Robert de Mowbray, the Norman earl of Northumbria. On the 13th November 1093 he was besieging the newly erected castle at Alnwick. Arkil Morel, a steward of the earl snuck out from the castle in a deliberate ambush. Malcolm and his eldest son by Margaret; Edward, were killed.

‘His queen, Margaret, moreover, died of sorrow for him within nine daysʼ Fortunately for the history of Scotland, he and Margaret had six more sons, and three of those would become Scottish Kings. Their eldest daughter Edith would marry Henry I to become Queen of England.

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