From the Death of KENNETH MAC-ALPIN, to the Acceʃʃion of MALCOLM CAINMMORE, in 1054.
THE difference among the Scots writers concerning the hiʃtory and character of Donald, who ʃucceeded his brother Kenneth Mac-Alpin in the throne, ought to caution us againʃt placing any implicit faith in the hiʃtories of Boece and Buchanan, and thoʃe who tranʃcribe from them. By thoʃe authors Donald is repreʃented as a monʃter of luxury and prodigality, diʃregardful of advice, and as encouraging the exiled Picts, by his diʃʃipated courʃe of life, to apply to Oʃbreth and Ella, two Saxon kings, for aʃʃiʃtance to be reʃtored to their country, which they propoʃed to render tributary to the Saxons. The two kings accordingly invaded Scotland with a powerful army, but were defeated by Donald, who recovered Berwick, which had been taken by the Engliʃh, and afterwards ʃeized upon the ʃhips and proviʃions of the enemy. The former being laden with wine, the Scottiʃh king and his officers indulged themʃelves too freely in drinking; upon which Oʃbreth rallying his troops, ʃurprized them, cut in pieces twenty thouʃand of the common ʃoldiers, took the king and moʃt of his nobility priʃoners, and carried them about as public objects of hatred and contempt. Oʃbreth purʃued his blow, conquered all the territory between Adrian’s and Antonine’s-wall, and would have made a deʃcent upon the coaʃts of Fife, had not his ʃhips been diʃperʃed by a ʃtorm. His land-forces, however, marched as far as Sterling, intending to croʃs the Forth on the bridge built at that town; but finding his army weakened, he concluded a peace with the Scots, who ʃtipulated that they ʃhould yield up all the lands between the two prætentures. Thus the boundaries of the Scotch dominions towards Sterling was the Forth, and towards Dumbarton, the Clyde; the Forth was from that time to be called the Scotch Sea; and it was made capital for any Scotchman to ʃet his foot on Engliʃh ground. They were to erect no forts near the Engliʃh confines, and to pay an annual tribute of a thouʃand pounds, beʃides giving up ʃixty ʃons of their chief nobility as hoʃtages. We are farther told, that Oʃbreth erected a coinage at Sterling, a name which diʃtinguiʃhes the Engliʃh ʃilver to this day; and that he raiʃed a croʃs on the bridge of Sterling, with an inʃcription in Latin, ʃignifying it to be the common boundary1 between the Britons and the Scots. After this, the Picts, finding that they had been neglected in the treaty between the Engliʃh and the Scots, fled to Norway, while thoʃe who remained in England were maʃʃacred. This inglorious peace furniʃhed Donald with a freʃh opportunity of indulging his vices; upon which his ʃubjects deeming him irreclaimable, ʃhut him up in priʃon, where he put an end to his own life in 858.
Not to mention the univerʃal ʃilence of the Saxon and Engliʃh Chronicles as to thoʃe glorious conqueʃts of their princes, this whole narrative carries with it the appearance of impoʃture. Oʃbreth, ʃuppoʃing him to have been a king of Northumberland, muʃt have been a Saxon; nor do we find that any tribe of Britons, called by that name, then exiʃted in the north of England. But not to inʃiʃt upon mere improbabilities, Boece is convicted of forgery by the poʃitive teʃtimony of Fordun and the author of the before-mentioned Chronicle, who have antiquity to ʃupport their aʃʃertions. According to the former, Donald was a hero, and had obtained frequent victories over the Picts. After his acceʃʃion to the throne, he cultivated friendʃhip with all the neighbouring kings and princes. Some of the Picts had fled to Northumberland, where they were perʃuaded by the inhabitants, who joined them, to break the truce upon Kenneth’s death. The loyal Picts, however, (a freʃh proof that the race was not exterminated) and the ʃteadineʃs of the Scotch king, defeated the efforts of thoʃe enemies, all of whom were that very year deʃtroyed. The author of the Chronicle informs, us that Donald reigned four years; that the Guydhels, by whom we imagine he means the Picts, the Caledonians, and the few Britons who might ʃtill remain in Scotland, compiled with the king in his palace of Fort Teviot the laws of Ethfin, the ʃon of Eugene with the Crooked Noʃe; and that he died in his palace of Belachor. Winton, who likewiʃe wrote before Boece, agrees in the ʃame character of this prince; and indeed there is nothing more natural than to ʃuppoʃe, that having ʃucceeded to the kingdom of the Picts, he would gratify his new ʃubjects by a code of laws, which, though now loʃt, were perhaps favourable to their nation and cuʃtoms.
Upon the death of Donald, Conʃtantine, his nephew, the ʃon of Kenneth Mac-Alpin, ʃucceeded to the throne. In his time, Denmark and the northern nations continued to ʃend over great numbers of their inhabitants to Scotland as well as England; but the Saxon Chronicle and the Engliʃh hiʃtorians having tranʃmitted very few particulars as to their progreʃs in Scotland, we muʃt therefore, for ʃome time, depend on the Scotch writers. Upon the landing of a body of theʃe emigrants in the north, Conʃtantine offered them a reception in his harbours, as well as proviʃions for their money. This, together with the ʃtate of their countrymen in England, whom they aʃʃiʃted, procured the Scotch king ʃome reʃpite. That prince finding his nobles very refractory, probably on account of the indulgence extended to the Picts during the laʃt reign, convened an aʃʃembly of the ʃtates, who demanded an abrogation of thoʃe laws. In the mean time, Ewen of the iʃles broke out into rebellion, and ʃeized the caʃtle of Dunʃtaffage; but this inʃurrection was ʃoon quelled, and the rebel put to death.
During thoʃe tranʃactions, the Picts who had fled to Denmark prevailed with his Daniʃh majeʃty to ʃend his two brethren, Hungar and Hubba, to recover the Pictiʃh dominions from Conʃtantine. Theʃe princes accordingly landed on the coaʃt of Fife, where they committed the moʃt horrid barbarities; for they even murdered the eccleʃiaʃtics who took refuge in the iʃland of May, at the mouth of the Forth. Conʃtantine ʃoon put himʃelf at the head of an army, and defeated that diviʃion of the Danes commanded by Hubba, near the water of Leven; but afterwards attacking that under Hungar, he was in his turn totally defeated; and being taken priʃoner, was carried to a cove or cave, ʃince called The Devil’s Cave, and there beheaded. The monuments of Daniʃh antiquity ʃtill to be ʃeen in the county of Fife, leave no room to doubt that it was the ʃcene of many bloody wars between theʃe people and the Scots: the veʃtiges of the trenches appear near the place of battle, even to this day; and by the common people are called the Danes Dikes. The Scots are ʃaid to have loʃt ten thouʃand men in this action; and Conʃtantine, after reigning ʃixteen years, ʃuffered death in the year 874.
Fordun aʃʃerts, that ʃome Danes were ʃettled in Scotland before the laʃt mentioned deʃcent, who lived in tolerable good correʃpondence with the Scots, till the Picts, who were not yet thoroughly ʃubdued, perʃuaded them to join the invaʃion. The ʃame hiʃtorian preʃents us with a more ʃtriking proof than any we have yet inʃtanced, that the Picts were then ʃubʃiʃting as a people under Constantine; for he informs us that prince was betrayed by the Picts whom he had raʃhly employed in his army, and who proved like ʃerpents in his boʃom; that they fled upon the firʃt onʃet; and, being followed by others, the king was left alone ʃurrounded, taken, and put to death by his enemies; who immediately after their victory, returned on board their ʃhips, and the Scots carried their king’s body to Icolm-kill, where they interred it. The Little Chronicle mentions a war carried on between Conʃtantine and the Iriʃh, who appear to have invaded Pictland likewiʃe; (and this is by no means incredible) but that in the third year of the war, Amlaib, the Iriʃh king, was killed by the Scotch monarch in another invaʃion; that the war between the Danes and the Scots happened after his death, and that the former (whom the author calls Normans) passed a whole year in Pictland.
Eth, called the Swiftfoot from his agility, ʃucceeded his brother Conʃtantine. The Little Chronicle ʃays, that he performed nothing memorable; reigned but one year; and was killed at Inneroury. Fordun tells us, that his acceʃʃion was diʃputed by Gregory, the ʃon of Dongal; and that the nobility being divided, a battle was fought between the two parties, in which Eth was mortally wounded, in the firʃt onʃet; but that he lived two months after, and was buried at Icolm-kill. Such is the account we have of this prince, from the oldeʃt and moʃt authentic records. Boece and later writers have repreʃented him as voluptuous and indolent; as abandoning his dominions to the Danes, for which he was impriʃoned by his ʃubjects; and dying of grief on the third day of his confinement. Theʃe facts ʃeem to be invented merely to juʃtify the power subjects poʃʃeʃs over kings. What allurements could a king of Scotland have in thoʃe days, to render him voluptuous, luxurious, and indolent!
Gregory, deʃervedly ʃurnamed the Great, was the ʃucceʃʃor of Eth the Swiftfoot. The permiʃʃion he allowed ʃoon after his coronation at Scone, for the royal interment of his predecessor’s body; his paʃʃing an act of indemnity for all who had borne arms againʃt him; and his reʃtoring order and unanimity to his kingdom; were the happy omens of his adminiʃtration. The unheard-of cruelties committed by the Danes in England, and the inability of the Saxon princes, even of Alfred the Great, to protect their northern dominions, induced many of the inhabitants to put themʃelves under the protection of Gregory, and to pay him fealty and homage; “because (ʃays Fordun) they thought it better willingly to ʃubmit to the Catholic Scots, though enemies, than unwillingly to the Pagan infidels.” Gregory having taken care by ʃeveral acts of munificence, to ʃecure the clergy on his ʃide, convened an aʃʃembly of his ʃtates at Forfar, whence, after making ʃeveral regulations, he marched againʃt the Picts, whom the Danes had left in poʃʃeʃʃion of Fife. Unable to reʃiʃt his power they went over to the Lothians, and from thence towards the north of England, to join their confederates the Danes, who were now in poʃʃeʃʃion of York, and maʃters of all Northumberland. Their great general Rollo, predeceʃʃor to William the Conqueror, afterwards king of England, and himʃelf the conqueror of Normandy, had made a deʃcent upon England in his voyage to France; but he found it already over-burdened with Danes. In 875, no fewer than three armies of thoʃe emigrants arrived from the continent: but they were employed in the conqueʃt of England, while Gregory paʃʃing the frith of Forth, drove their countrymen, and their Pictiʃh allies, out of Lothian into Northumberland, tho’ not before they had thrown a garriʃon into Berwic.
No ʃooner did Gregory appear before that town, than the Chriʃtian inhabitants, in conʃequence, no doubt, of the allegiance they had lately ʃworn, received him within their walls, where the Daniʃh part of the garriʃon was put to the ʃword, and the Pictiʃh made priʃoners. From Berwic, Gregory purʃued the Danes, under their leader Hardnute, into Northumberland, where he defeated them; and having expelled them from that province, he paʃʃed the winter in Berwic. The Saxon Chronicle, and the Engliʃh hiʃtorians, take no notice of theʃe particulars; but the truth is, they every where ʃeem to be prepoʃʃeʃʃed againʃt the Scots; and very probably, conʃidering the diʃtracted ʃtate of England at that time, they had no opportunities of being informed of what paʃʃed in the northern parts of their country, at leaʃt not early enough to enter it upon their annals; for ʃuch is the form of their hiʃtories. It is, however, certain, that a great friendʃhip ʃubʃiʃted between Alfred and Gregory; and that the former agreed to yield to the latter, all the lands which had once belonged to the Scots and Picts between the two prætentures. Early in the ʃpring, after the defeat of Hardnute (as he is called, but erroneouʃly, for his name was Halfden) Gregory took the field againʃt the Cumbrian Britons, who had recovered Dumbarton and the adjacent provinces, which had belonged to their anceʃtors, formerly expelled by the Scots and Picts. If we may credit the authority of Aʃʃerius, a contemporary writer, and the Saxon Chronicle, Halfden had divided his army into two parts; one of which he ʃent ʃouthwards, and marched with the other himʃelf northward, where he ʃubdued the Picts, Britons, and the Welch of Strathclud. This ʃeems to have induced Gregory to march againʃt him. The Britons being as unable as unwilling, perhaps, to oppoʃe him, ʃoon agreed to an accommodation; by which they ceded all the lands they poʃʃeʃʃrly belonging to the Scots; and Gregory undertook to protect them from the Danes. This accommodation, however, muʃt be chiefly attibuted to the terror of the Daniʃh arms; for no ʃooner had Alfred the Great defeated the Danes in South-Britain, than Conʃtantine, king of the Cumbrians (the greateʃt part of whoʃe ʃubjects were originally Picts) violated the convention formerly concluded with Gregory, and invaded Annandale; but being encountered by the Scotch king, he was defeated and killed near Lochmaben. Conʃtantine was ʃucceeded by his brother Herbert, who would have gladly adhered to the terms of the late treaty; but his offers were rejected by Gregory, who made himʃelf maʃter of Cumberland and Weʃtmoreland, which appear to have been then poʃʃeʃʃed by the Cumbrian Britons and Picts. According to the Scotch hiʃtorians, and we meet with no ancient writers who contradict it, this peace was confirmed by Alfred; though we are not poʃitive, whether he yielded the ceded countries to Gregory in ʃovereignty. It is, however, certain, that the ʃtate of Alfred’s affairs, at that time, muʃt have rendered it extremely inconvenient for him to have had any variance with Gregory.
A war next broke out between the Scots and the Iriʃh, who had intimate connections with each other. The name of the king of Ireland, at this time, is ʃaid to have been Donach, a minor; but his authority was uʃurped by two of his noblemen, Brian and Corneil. Donach was nearly related to Gregory, who naturally declared himʃelf againʃt the two factious noblemen; and the Iriʃh having, under pretence making repriʃals, invaded Galloway, he repelled them with loʃs to their ʃhips, and afterwards paʃʃed over in perʃon to Ireland. The two noblemen, who had before been enemies to each other, upon his landing joined their forces, and prepared to diʃpute the paʃʃage of the river Bane with Gregory, that he might be forced to return for want of proviʃions. Gregory found means, however, to get poʃʃeʃʃion of an eminence, from whence he forced Brian’s entrenchments, and killed that chief, with a number of his followers: upon which Corneil made a retreat into the more inacceʃʃible parts of the iʃland. After this, the Scotch king reduced Dungard and Pont; by which we are to underʃtand Dundalk and Drogheda; but, on his march towards Dublin, he was oppoʃed at the head of a great army by Corneil, who was defeated and killed by the Scots. Gregory then continued his route to Dublin, where young Donach reʃided; but was met by a deputation, with biʃhop Cormac, in his veʃtments, at its head, who agreed to receive him into their city, and to put it under his protection. Fordun ʃays, that he was the neareʃt in blood to the ʃucceʃʃion of Ireland; this, however, can be meant only after Donach: for upon his entering Dublin, Gregory declared himʃelf guardian to the king, while under age; appointed a regency; and obliged them to ʃwear that they never would admit into their land either a Dane or an Engliʃhman, without his permiʃʃion. He afterwards placed garriʃons in the ʃtrongeʃt fortreʃʃes of the kingdom, and returned to Scotland; but, when Donach came of age, Gregory recalled his troops. Tho’ I pretend not to aʃcertain the ʃeveral facts of this conqueʃt of Ireland, as recited by Scotch writers, yet it ʃeems indiʃputable that Gregory made ʃuch an expedition with great glory. Fordun even aʃʃerts, that he conquered all Ireland; and is ʃupported by the very ancient Regiʃter of the priory of St. Andrew’s, a record of the greateʃt authenticity, as well as antiquity, of any of the hiʃtorical monuments of Scotland, becauʃe it was undoubtedly written in the year 1251, almost forty years before Edward the firʃt of England carried off the other Scotch archives. We have now only to add to the preceding account of Gregory’s reign, that he was a great benefactor to the church, as will be ʃeen in the eccleʃiaʃtical part of this hiʃtory; that he faithfully ʃent back the hoʃtages he had obliged the Iriʃh to give him for their fidelity to Donach; that he built the city of Aberdeen, finiʃhed his glorious life at his caʃtle of Dundore in the Garioch, in the year 892, and was buried with his anceʃtors at Icolm-kill.
Gregory the Great was ʃucceeded by Donald the third, ʃon of Conʃtantine, who imitated the virtues of his predeceʃʃor. The Scotch hiʃtorians ʃeem unanimous that Northumberland was, at this time, in poʃʃeʃʃion of Donald; this, however, is contradicted by the beʃt Engliʃh authorities, which tell us, that ever ʃince the year 883, it was governed by Guthred, who was of Daniʃh extraction, but tributary to Alfred. We therefore have reaʃon to believe, that the Danes recovered whatever acquiʃitions the late monarch had made in Northumberland, before the end of his reign; and that Alfred found it convenient for him to accept of their homage. Notwithʃtanding this, we find that Donald ʃent Alfred a body of troops, who did him conʃiderable ʃervice, in his wars with the Danes. Donald’s friendʃhip was the more meritorious, as the Northumbrian Danes had offered to ʃubmit to him, provided he would join with them in oppoʃing Alfred; but he refuʃed all their terms, unleʃs they became Chriʃtians. I am warranted in the above conjecture by Fordun, who informs us, that the Daniʃh king of Northumberland and Eaʃt-Anglia (whom he calls Gurmund) had been baptized by means of Alfred; and that though Donald knew that both he and his family had ʃworn fealty to Alfred, yet he entered into an alliance with his ʃon Ranald, and his kinʃman Sithric, who ʃucceeded him. While the Scotch monarch was ʃettling thoʃe affairs in the South, his dominions in the North were harraʃʃed by bands of robbers from Murray and Roʃs. Returning northward therefore, he bravely encountered them, killed ʃome thouʃands, and totally defeated them near Forres. It ʃeems not improbable, from the Little Chronicle, that thoʃe robbers were no other than Danes from the continent, who, very poʃʃibly, might have been joined by ʃome of the Picts of Roʃs and Murray. They appear to have been twice defeated by the Scots; firʃt near Cullen in Bamfshire, and afterwards at Forres.
All hiʃtorians agree that Donald, after his victory at Forres, died there; and, perhaps, the extraordinary ʃtone I have mentioned may be his monument. Fordun intimates, that his ʃudden death, which happened in the year 903, and the eleventh of his reign, was owing to poiʃon, if not occaʃioned by his great fatigues. He was buried at Icolm-kill.
Conʃtantine the third, the ʃon of Eth Swiftfoot, next aʃcended the Scottiʃh throne. Edward the Elder was then king of England, who had given the Danes repeated overthrows, till at laʃt he compelled thoʃe who were ʃettled in the ʃouthern parts of the iʃland to ʃubmit to his government. We have no authentic hiʃtory of the firʃt years of this prince’s adminiʃtration; for his alliance with the Danes, which is the moʃt remarkable tranʃaction recorded of his reign, could not happen before his ʃixteenth year, according to the Engliʃh hiʃtories which may be now depended on. The truth is Edward of England grew uneaʃy at ʃeeing the Scots in poʃʃeʃʃion of the northern provinces; and made ʃuch extravagant demands upon Conʃtantine as induced him to enter into a confederacy with the Danes, which, however, laʃted only two years; for the Danes found it their intereʃt to join with the Engliʃh. Soon after, Edward made ʃuch preparations that the Danes applied to Conʃtantine to renew the league between them. Fordun aʃʃerts, that Edward had already invaded the Daniʃh poʃʃeʃʃions, and laid them waʃte for a whole month; upon which they applied in the moʃt humble manner for Conʃtantine’s protection; which having obtained, they confirmed all their engagements by oath. Malcolm, but according to the above-mentioned hiʃtorian, Eugene, ʃon of the late king Donald, was then preʃumptive heir to the crown of Scotland, to whom Conʃtantine, I think with great wiʃdom, aʃʃigned the Scotch poʃʃeʃʃions between the two prætentures, as his appennage, on condition of his reʃiding there, and defending them againʃt all invaders. It was not long before Malcolm was obliged to take the field, at the head of a body of troops, by way of auxiliaries to the Danes. The Scotch writers ʃpeak very obʃcurely of the event of Malcolm’s firʃt campaign; their ʃilence, however, is ʃupplied by the Engliʃh hiʃtorians. Athelʃtan, who, according to the former, was the natural ʃon of Edward, commanded for his father, at that time, in the north of England. Being in no condition to reʃiʃt the confederate forces of the Scots and Danes, he remained upon the defenʃive to obʃerve the motions of the former. Perceiving they were chiefly intent on plunder, he offered them battle; but politically retiring from the field, while the Scots were buʃy in pillaging his camp, Athelʃtan rallied his forces at an appointed ʃignal, and cut both the Scots and Danes to pieces; prince Malcolm himʃelf being carried wounded out of the field.
This victory raiʃed Edward to the ʃummit of glory; and perhaps, Conʃtantine, rather than endanger his hereditary dominions, might pay fealty to Edward for the territories he held ʃouth of Forth, as did Reginald, king of the Northumbrian Danes, and the Britons of Strathclyde. This is a fact mentioned by the Saxon Chronicle; but there is no reaʃon for extending this homage, with ʃome modern Engliʃh writers, to the counties north of Forth. The Scotch hiʃtorians, however, are moʃt unpardonably inaccurate in their accounts of this important period.
Upon the acceʃʃion of Athelʃtan, Edward the Elder’s ʃon, to the crown of England, ʃeveral conʃpiracies were formed againʃt him, which encouraged the northern Danes to take arms, and ʃurprize York and Davenport. They were headed by one of their princes, named Sithric, and became ʃo formidable that Athelʃtan entered into a treaty with him, and gave him his ʃiʃter in marriage: Sithric, however, did not long ʃurvive the nuptials. He was ʃucceeded by his ʃon Guthred, who endeavouring to throw off Athelʃtan’s yoke, was defeated, and fled into Scotland. Athelʃtan then beʃieged York, which he took, and advancing to Scotland, demanded Conʃtantine to deliver up Guthred, and his brother Anlaf. Conʃtantine, not chuʃing either to provoke the Engliʃh monarch, or to violate the ʃacred rights of hoʃpitality, deʃired a conference with him; which took place at Dakers, in Northumberland. This meeting has been variouʃly repreʃented. The Engliʃh hiʃtorians pretend, that Conʃtantine met Athelʃtan as a vaʃʃal; and not only ʃurrendered to him the ʃuperiority of all his dominions, but gave him his ʃon as an hoʃtage for his obedience. We know of no ʃon that Conʃtantine then had, unleʃs it was the infant to whom William of Malmʃbury ʃays, Athelʃtan ʃtood godfather at the font. The diʃagreement, and, indeed, the miʃtakes found among the Engliʃh hiʃtorians at this period, expoʃe their credibility to the moʃt unfavourable ʃuʃpicions. It is moʃt probable, that the two kings accommodated affairs at the conference, upon Conʃtantine’s promiʃing to withdraw his protection from Guthred; who, with his brother Anlaf, was permitted to make his eʃcape to Yorkʃhire, where he re-commenced hoʃtilities. It is poʃʃible too, that Athelʃtan might think the Scots were privy to his conduct, and might reʃent it, by ʃome incurʃions into their country; but no reputable Engliʃh hiʃtorian has, at this time given Athelʃtan a complete victory over the Scots. He rather ʃeems to have acted upon the defenʃive, a powerful confederacy being at this time formed againʃt him; in which the Scots, the Northumbrian Danes, the Iriʃh, and the Welch, were parties. Anlaf, ʃaid to have been an Iriʃh prince (but whether he was a brother of Guthred is uncertain) was ʃon-in-law to Conʃtantine. The Welch were the firʃt who took arms; but, not being ʃupported, were quickly reduced by Athelʃtan, who directly marched against the Scots. This muʃt have happened in the year 934, ʃeven years after the interview between the Engliʃh and Scotch monarchs at Dakers. What paʃʃed in the intermediate time between 934 and 937, or (according to the Saxon Chronicle) 938, does not appear either from the Scotch or Engliʃh records; but the latter being the moʃt authentic at this period, with which ʃome of their authors were contemporaries, we follow them, rather than thoʃe of the Scots, who are deʃtitute of preciʃion.
It ʃeems to be very probable, that Athelʃtan continued for ʃome years at York, and that hoʃtilities were in the mean time carried on by both parties. In the year 938, the combined army of the Scots and Iriʃh, under Anlaf, landed at the mouth of the Humber, and advancing into the country, were joined by the prince of Cumberland, by Fordun called Eugene; and therefore we cannot ʃee with what propriety he is named Malcolm by later hiʃtorians, unleʃs Eugene had been then dead, and was ʃucceeded by a brother named Malcolm. Athelʃtan ʃoon put himʃelf at the head of an army, and both parties having encamped in ʃight of each other, they determined to come ʃpeedily to a deciʃive action. While they were making the neceʃʃary diʃpoʃitions, Anlaf, in imitation of Alfred, who had undertaken a ʃimilar adventure ʃome years before, diʃguiʃed himʃelf like a harper, a character which procured admiʃʃion in thoʃe days into courts, houʃes, and camps, otherwiʃe inacceʃʃible; and entering the Engliʃh camp, after entertaining Athelʃtan with his muʃic, and obʃerving the ʃituation of his army, was diʃmiʃʃed with a noble reward. An Engliʃh or Daniʃh ʃoldier who had ʃerved under Anlaf, recollected him through his diʃguiʃe, watched his motions, and ʃaw him bury, in a corner of the Engliʃh camp, the gratuity he received. After Anlaf’s departure, the ʃoldier acquainted Athelʃtan with what he had obʃerved; and, by his advice, the king exchanged tents with a biʃhop, who was ʃlain that very night in an irruption made by Anlaf, who thought he had killed the Engliʃh monarch.
The Scotch hiʃtorians take no notice of this fact, tho’ it is unqueʃtionably atteʃted; and when all its circumʃtances are conʃidered, I cannot look upon the attempt of Anlaf as much better than a deʃigned aʃʃaʃʃination; perhaps, it contributed to the dreadful carnage which enʃued next day.
Both armies were encamped at a place called Bruneford, and by Fordun, Brounyngfeld, near the Humber. It appears that the Scots expected to be joined by a body of Welch, as they had been by ʃome auxiliary Danes under Froda. They were diʃappointed, however, through the vigilance of Athelʃtan, who underʃtanding that the Iriʃh, under Anlaf, had been terribly fatigued by their nocturnal irruption, and perhaps apprehenʃive that they might be joined by the Welch, reʃolved to attack them in their entrenchments. The Scots were commanded by Conʃtantine; the Iriʃh by Anlaf; the Cumbrians by their own prince; and the Danes by Froda. Athelʃtan had under him his brother Edmund, and Turketil, his favourite general. They entered the entrenchments of the confederates ʃword in hand; but the reʃiʃtance they met with was chiefly from the Scots, who were attacked by the Londoners and Mercians, the flower of the Engliʃh army, under Turketil. Conʃtantine was in the moʃt imminent danger of being killed or taken priʃoner; but he was ʃaved by the loyalty and courage of his ʃubjects, though the Engliʃh writers pretend that he fell in the field. But it is univerʃally agreed, that after a long dispute, Athelʃtan obtained a moʃt complete victory.
The Engliʃh hiʃtorians mention this as the moʃt bloody battle that had ever been fought in Britain; by which expreʃʃion (as Buchanan well obʃerves) they often mean that part of the iʃland ʃituated ʃouth of Adrian’s prætenture. I know of no hiʃtorian who mentions the number of the ʃlain, though it is agreed that the combined army loʃt five princes or chieftains, and ʃeven generals; but we are ignorant of the diʃtinction between thoʃe two denominations. Fordun mentions three princes, and nine generals; and ʃays, that the ʃlain were innumerable. Athelʃtan’s loʃs was likewiʃe very conʃiderable; for, excluʃive of a great number of his ʃoldiers, his two couʃin-germans, Edwin and Ethelwin, were killed. This battle proved fatal to the Scots; for the active Athelʃtan invaded their country, over-ran its ʃouthern parts, and ʃtript them of all the provinces they held ʃouth of Forth. The reader in the note,2 will find the ridiculous legends related by Brompton, and other Engliʃh hiʃtorians, concerning their monarch’s expedition to Scotland, which render great part of his hiʃtory very juʃtly ʃuʃpicious, though the facts here related are indiʃputable.
Conʃtantine being now old, and diʃpirited by the misfortunes of his country, ʃoon after the battle of Bruneford, reʃigned his crown to Malcolm, and retired to the monaʃtery of the Culdees, at St. Andrew’s, where he died, and was buried five years after, in the year 943.
The modern hiʃtorians of Scotland ʃeem to have erred greatly, in ʃuppoʃing this Malcolm to have been the prince of the Cumbrians in the battle of Bruneford; becauʃe the Engliʃh writers have told us, that the name of the Cumbrian prince was Eugene, and that he was killed in that battle. This coincides with Fordun’s relation; and therefore, the Malcolm here mentioned, very probably, was brother to that Eugene, whom Ingulphus, as well as Fordun, expreʃsly ʃays, was then prince of Cumberland.3 Tho’ the reʃignation of Conʃtantine the third is fixed to the year 938, yet there is ʃome reaʃon for believing, that this Malcolm did not aʃʃume the regal title till Conʃtantine’s death, in 943. The great progreʃs which the Danes had made in England againʃt Edmund the firʃt, ʃon to Athelʃtan, proved of no ʃmall advantage to Malcolm, as it rendered him an uʃeful ally to Edmund; tho’ the battle of Bruneford, and the ʃubʃequent loʃʃes of the Scots, in their wars with Athelʃtan, had reduced them ʃo low, that Malcolm at firʃt cultivated peace with all his neighbours. We underʃtand from the Engliʃh hiʃtorians, that the people of Cumberland, after the battle of Bruneford, had choʃen a prince of their own; that Anlaf, the Engliʃh Dane, having eʃcaped to Ireland, after that engagement, was recalled from thence by the Northumbrians, upon the death of Athelʃtan; and that upon his arrival, he recovered all Northumberland, and made a very conʃiderable progreʃs to the ʃouthward. This proved an additional inducement for Edmund to ʃtrengthen his connections with Malcolm. The Engliʃh monarch was forced by Anlaf to an inglorious peace, into which he was partly betrayed by the treachery of his own ʃubjects; but he no ʃooner diʃcovered their perfidy, than, in the year 944, he invaded Northumberland, from whence he expelled both Anlaf and Reginald, the ʃon of Guthred, who was formerly king of that country. The Northumbrians had been greatly aʃʃiʃted in their revolt by the Cumbrians, the name of whoʃe new-elected prince was Dunmail; and young Edmund, who was highly elated with his ʃucceʃs, after depoʃing him, offered his country to Malcolm, on condition of his holding it as a fief of the crown of England, and of his being ready to aʃʃiʃt him both by ʃea and land. Matthew of Weʃtminʃter ʃays, that Edmund ordered the eyes of Dunmail’s ʃons to be put out; but he informs us, that the only ʃervice Malcolm engaged to perform for his acquiʃition, was, to aʃʃiʃt in defending the northern border. Brompton, however, with great appearance of truth aʃʃerts, that the Scottiʃh prince was obliged (we ʃuppoʃe, if required) to attend Edmund’s court at certain feaʃts; and that houʃes for his lodging on the road were aʃʃigned him. Buchanan has added Weʃtmoreland to Cumberland in the ʃame ceʃʃion, with ʃome appearance of probability, as it ʃeems unlikely that the Cumbrians were confined to the preʃent county of that name.
Nothing but the diʃtreʃʃed ʃituation of Edmund’s affairs, by the Danes, could have prevailed upon that monarch to have given the king of Scotland ʃo firm a footing as he had acquired in England by the late treaty. As matters were then circumʃtanced in the North of England, the reʃervation of fealty was little more than a matter of form, which Malcolm might obʃerve or refuʃe as he pleaʃed. Fordun informs us, with the Engliʃh hiʃtorians, that a ʃecond convention was concluded, by which it was agreed, that Indulf, Malcolm’s heir, and the other heirs of Scotland for the time being, ʃhould perform homage and fealty to king Edmund, and his ʃucceʃʃors on the throne of England, for Cumberland; and that neither of them ʃhould give ʃhelter to, accept of fealty from, or form connections with, the barbarians of the North (meaning the Danes). Upon the murder of Edmund, in 954, the Engliʃh choʃe his brother Edred for his ʃucceʃʃor, to whom Malcolm likewiʃe proved a moʃt fạithful ally. But before I proceed farther, it is neceʃʃary to explain a very important difficulty which occurs at this period.
The Saxon Chronicle, in mentioning the battle of Bruneford, confounds the Hibernian and Britiʃh Scots under the common name of Scots, which has occaʃioned Dr. Gibʃon, afterwards biʃhop of London, and editor of that Chronicle, to ʃuppoʃe that the Scots whom Athelʃtan then defeated, were the Hibernian Scots. This, however, is only ʃo far true as Anlaf commanded the Iriʃh Scots, and in fact, was the head of that confederacy. It is not eaʃy to ʃay, whether the king of the Northumbrian Danes, and Anlaf, king of the Hibernian Scots, were the ʃame perʃon. I am inclined to think they were; and that the Scots always acted in that war as his auxiliaries. I am even ʃomewhat doubtful, whether Conʃtantine, king of Scotland, was preʃent at the battle of Bruneford; for he is not mentioned in the Cottonian manuʃcript of the Saxon Chronicle, though named in that publiʃhed by biʃhop Gibʃon. I am the more ʃuʃpicious on this head, becauʃe it is indiʃputable that Eugene, prince of Cumberland, was killed in that battle, whom the author of the Chronicle, and the other Engliʃh hiʃtorians, might very readily miʃtake for Conʃtantine, as they did the latter being killed in that engagement, though there is not a there is not a more certain fact of that age than that he ʃurvived it five years.
Nothing can be more evident, than that it was to the Caledonian or Britiʃh Scots the county of Cumberland was ceded by Edmund; for when his brother Edred aʃcended the throne, the Northumbrians being again inclined to rebel, Malcolm, or rather his ʃon Indulf, renewed his oath of fealty to Edred at York, which diʃconcerted the ʃchemes of the revolters, who ʃubmitted to Turketil. It is, however, certain, that Anlaf was ʃtill alive and in Denmark, from whence, ʃoon after Malcolm’s performing his homage, he returned to Northumberland with a body of Danes, which once more put him in poʃʃeʃʃion of that country. It muʃt be acknowledged, that the modern Scotch hiʃtorians are not very conʃiʃtent at this period, and that ʃome difficulties occur in their narrations. They tell us, that upon the firʃt rebellion of the Northumbrians againʃt Edred, Malcolm aʃʃiʃted him with ten thouʃand men; but we know of no aʃʃiʃtance ʃent by him to Edred againʃt Anlaf. Perhaps, Fordun may remove this difficulty, by the new ʃtipulations of fealty, which, as I have already mentioned, were formed at the ʃecond convention between Malcolm and Edmund.
From them it would ʃeem, as if Malcolm thought himʃelf diʃengaged from his oath of fealty and homage, and at liberty to aʃʃiʃt, at leaft not to oppoʃe, his friend and kinʃman Anlaf, whom he might conʃider as the lawful king of Northumberland. This freʃh invaʃion of Anlaf happened in the year 949, and he remained in quiet poʃʃeʃʃion of Northumberland till the year 952, when he was expelled by Eric. Edred, upon this, carried an army into Northumberland, which he again reduced. We do not find, however, that Malcolm ʃent him any aʃʃiʃtance. Fordun, indeed, ʃays, that the Scots aʃʃiʃted Edred in laying waʃte Northumberland; but this was previous to the invaʃion of the Danes, under Anlaf. As to Malcolm himself, proving it ʃeems a ʃevere juʃticiary, he was murdered by a conʃpiracy of robbers, at Ulrine in the county of Murray, in the year 952, and fifteenth of his reign.
Indulf, ʃon of the late king Conʃtantine, ʃucceeded Malcolm, whoʃe ʃon Duff was created prince of Cumberland. Indulf appears to have been ʃenʃible of the barbarity of the Danes, and therefore cultivated the friendʃhip of the Anglo-Saxon kings; it is very poʃʃible, however, that at this time Anlaf was dead. The connections between Indulf and Edred exaʃperated the Danes ʃo highly, that after Edred’s death, according to Fordun, they invaded Scotland with a fleet of fifty ʃhips; having firʃt laid waʃte the more ʃouthern coaʃts of England. This deʃcent alarmed the iʃlanders as well as the Scots, whom (says our old hiʃtorian) the Danes now hated as much as they did the Engliʃh. They were, however, expelled from Eaʃt-Lothian; and croʃʃing over to Fife, they were defeated there likewiʃe. Indulf ʃeems to have taken great care to guard his coaʃts; for, notwithʃtanding the advantage the Danes enjoyed in their ʃhipping, they could not effect another landing, till ʃeeming to ʃteer for their own country, the Scots were thrown off their guard, and their enemies all of a ʃudden landed at Cullen in Bamffʃhire. Indulf ʃoon came up with, and attacked them in their camp, from whence he, and his two generals, Græme and Dunbar, drove them towards their ʃhips: but the Scottiʃh king was killed in an ambuʃcade he fell into during the purʃuit.
It muʃt be acknowledged, that the hiʃtory of the ʃucceʃʃion to the crown of Scotland, at this period, is very confuʃed; for the Old Chronicle I have ʃo often mentioned, makes Malcolm, who ʃucceeded Conʃtantine, to have been the ʃon of Dunmail; nor does it relate whoʃe ʃon Indulf was. We learn, however, one very important fact from it, viz. that under Indulf, the Scots acquired the poʃʃeʃʃion of the caʃtle of Edinburgh; an incident which may ʃerve to prove the uncertainty of the Scotch geography in thoʃe days, and that the country ʃouth of Forth was poʃʃeʃʃed ʃometimes by Saxons, and ʃometimes by Danes: but it was probably from the Anglo-Saxons that the Scots recovered Edinburgh; for there is no doubt of their predeceʃʃors having been, long before this time, in poʃʃeʃʃion of Lothian. The ʃame record mentions a victory which Indulf obtained over the Summerleds or Danes, in Buchan.
Duff, which in the Gaelic language ʃignifies a black man, and who is accordingly in the Chronicle termed Niger, ʃucceeded Indulf. He is ʃaid to have been the ʃon of Malcolm, and an excellent prince. Fordun calls him a man of dove-like ʃimplicity; but at the ʃame time, the terror of rebels, thieves, and robbers. The ʃtory of his health being affected by a magical image melting before a fire, is agreeable to the monkiʃh fictions of that age. Even Fordun has not mentioned it; but informs us, that in his pursuit of robbers through all their haunts, eʃpecially in Murray, he was ʃo incautious, that conʃpirators broke into his bed-chamber in the night, and murdered him. The leader of the conʃpiracy is ʃaid to have been Donald, governor of the town and caʃtle of Forreʃs, who was inʃtigated to this treaʃon by his wife, and the king’s refuʃing to pardon ʃome of his relations. The ʃtory of his body being buried by the conʃpirators under a bridge near Kinloʃs, that it might not be diʃcovered, is probable; but the miracles which attended the concealment till the body was found out, are unworthy of repetition: it is ʃufficient to ʃay, that the flight of the conʃpirators pointed out their guilt; that they were retaken, and brought to condign puniʃhment. The Little Chronicle I have before quoted mentions, though in almoʃt unintelligible words, ʃome wars not taken notice of by other hiʃtorians, in which Duff was conqueror; but that he afterwards loʃt his crown in the fifth year of his reign. His death correʃponds with the year 965.
Culen, the ʃon of Indulf, had been nominated prince of Cumberland in his father’s reign, as heir apparent to the crown. There is reaʃon, from the Little Chronicle, for ʃuppoʃing that he had ʃome differences with his predeceʃʃor; however, be that as it may, we are told that he ʃeverely puniʃhed his murderers. Notwithʃtanding this, Culen plunged himself into vices of every kind to ʃuch a degree, as renders the fact very queʃtionable, were it not ʃupported by Fordun. An unbounded paʃʃion for women is charged upon him as his capital crime; but the truth is, he muʃt have been more than man if he was guilty of all the acts of incontinency mentioned by Buchanan and Boece, who not only accuʃe him of fornication and adultery with women of all ranks, but even of inceʃt with his own ʃiʃters and daughters. The king’’ example infected his ʃubjects; and he apologized for his conduct, by pretending that he wanted to ʃoften their manners. The wiʃer part of the nobility withdrew from court; and the ʃubjects were fleeced to ʃupply their monarch’s vices and luxuries. The kingdom thus became a ʃcene of public rapine; and at laʃt an aʃʃembly of the ʃtates was convened at Scone, for the re-ʃettling the government. Culen was aʃʃaʃʃinated on his journey to preʃide at this aʃʃembly, near the village of Methven, by Rohard, thane, or ʃheriff of Fife, whoʃe daughter the king is ʃaid to have deflowered. Fordun acknowledges that he was a degenerated prince; but ʃays that he was buried with his anceʃtors at Icolm-kill. The Short Chronicle mentions his being killed with his brother Ethod, by the Britons; by whom the author probably means the Scotch Lowlanders.
On the death of Culen, who was murdered in the fifth year of his reign, Kenneth the third ʃucceeded to the Scottiʃh crown, and his adminiʃtration is a remarkable period in the Scotch history. This prince mounted the throne in the time of public confuʃion, and foreign invaʃion. The late diʃorders had ʃo infected all the younger part of the nobility, as to render them ʃeemingly irreclaimable. This, however, did not diʃcourage Kenneth, who was a prince of invincible reʃolution. He began with reforming his own court and family; and had ʃagacity to perceive, that he muʃt effect his purpoʃe by favouring the liberties of the common people againʃt the oppreʃʃions of the nobility, which were now become intolerable. He purʃued this plan with ʃo much ʃucceʃs, that having nothing to fear from the great barons, he ordered them to appear before him at Lanerk: but the majority, conʃcious of their demerits, did not attend. The king, whoʃe prudence was equal to his reʃolution, diʃʃembled his diʃpleaʃure ʃo well, that thoʃe noblemen who appeared were charmed with his affability, and the noble entertainment he gave them. Kenneth went from Clydeʃdale to Galloway, where he performed his devotions at the ʃhrine of the popular St. Ninian.
Next year he appointed another meeting of his ʃtates at Scone, where the aʃʃembly was very numerous; the guilty part of the nobility being encouraged to appear by the king’s apparent mildneʃs and moderation. Kenneth had concerted his meaʃures ʃo happily, that all of a ʃudden the place of meeting was beʃet with armed men. Even the innocent part of the aʃʃembly, who had not been acquainted with Kenneth’s intention, trembled at their danger; however, the king ʃoon diʃʃipated their fears by a ʃpeech, in which he informed them that none but the guilty had any thing to apprehend; that his purpoʃe was to encourage induʃtry; and that he was determined at all events, to bring rebels and robbers to juʃtice. After this, he ordered ʃuch of the nobility as were known to protect and encourage the moʃt notorious delinquents, to be taken into cuʃtody; and he intimated, that their ʃubmitting to public juʃtice, ʃhould be the price of their liberty.
From this tranʃaction, the reader may conceive ʃome idea of the national miʃeries attending the feudal law, as then eʃtabliʃhed in Scotland. Every dependent conʃidered his immediate lord as his ʃovereign; and many of them never ʃuppoʃed that the chief of their clan (as he was called) could be controuled by any other power. The ʃame notions prevailed in aftertimes, under vicious princes, who attempted to impoʃe upon the people oppreʃʃions more intolerable than thoʃe impoʃed by their chiefs; but a vigorous and a virtuous prince ʃeldom failed of gaining over the people and a majority of their chiefs to his intereʃt, as will be ʃeen in the ʃubʃequent part of this hiʃtory.
The nobles accepted of the king’s offer, who was ʃo well informed, that he laid before the aʃʃembly the names of the chief malefactors whom he intended to bring to juʃtice. The aʃʃembly, upon this, iʃʃued out orders for apprehending the criminals, who were puniʃhed according to their offences. We cannot, it is true, approve of the manner in which Kenneth proceeded in this affair; but he muʃt be juʃtified by the character of the times, and the neceʃʃity of the meaʃure. He pacified his nobles, by magnificent preʃents, and his generous manner of treating them.
A great revolution, little attended to by Scotch hiʃtorians, happened at this time in the affairs of North as well as South-Britain. The famous Edgar was then ʃeated on the throne of England; who being ʃenʃible how neceʃʃary it was to keep up a large fleet for oppoʃing the Danes, the conʃtant enemies of the Anglo-Saxon kings, fitted out a greater number of ʃhips for the ʃafety of his country, than perhaps all Europe beʃides could put to ʃea. He knew, however, how ineffectual all his cares muʃt prove, unleʃs he could unite the king of the Scots, the prince of Cumberland, and all the petty princes of Wales, in one common principle of ʃafety and defence, againʃt thoʃe invaders. The Engliʃh, as well as the Scotch hiʃtorians, are ʃilent as to the manner in which this great meaʃure was carried into execution; but it is certain, that ʃuch a confederacy took place under Edgar; nor can we with any conʃiʃtency imagine, that ʃo wiʃe and ʃo politic a prince as Kenneth, was averʃe to the union. The Engliʃh writers have repreʃented this confederacy as a ʃubjection which Kenneth agreed to; but upon no other authorities than the idle tales of the monks, who have in a manner deified Edgar even for his crimes and vices. All that appears probable is, that Kenneth paid Edgar his proportion of expence for maintaining his fleet, and for guarding all the ʃea-coaʃts of Britain, which we are told he did, by dividing his ʃhips into three ʃquadrons. There is likewiʃe ʃome foundation for believing that Kenneth, attended by the prince of Cumberland, met Edgar at Cheʃter; but the common ʃtory, forged by the Engliʃh monks, of Edgar’s being rowed in his barge on the Dee, by his ʃeven tributary kings (of whom Kenneth was one) could it even be proved, is inconcluʃive as to its being a mark of Kenneth’s ʃubmiʃʃion. If eight princes, conʃidering the manners of thoʃe days, choʃe to divert themʃelves by rowing a barge on the river; and if Edgar, as being the moʃt expert ʃteerʃman, ʃat at the helm, what inference can be drawn from ʃuch a frolic, to eʃtabliʃh the dependency of the crown of Scotland upon that of England? But, in fact, the whole of this ʃtory may juʃtly be conʃidered as a monkiʃh dream.
The truth is, that Kenneth cultivated a friendʃhip with Edgar, as well as the Britiʃh princes; and he had other reaʃons for this conduct, beʃides the protection of his coaʃts, becauʃe he was now meditating a total alteration in the mode of ʃucceʃʃion to the throne. It is uncertain, whether the confederacy I have mentioned, happened before or after a dreadful invaʃion of the Danes in this reign. That circumʃtance, however, is of no great importance, becauʃe it is impoʃʃible for any number of ʃhips, to prevent at all times a deʃcent on the coaʃts of Britain. Thoʃe northern barbarians appeared off the eaʃtern coaʃts of Angus, and landed at Montroʃe. Their original intention ʃeems to have been to make a deʃcent upon England, which, perhaps, they found too well guarded. The Danes, upon their landing, proceeded ʃouthwards, filling all the country thro’ which they paʃʃed, with the moʃt horrible ravages. Kenneth was then at Stirling, unprepared to reʃiʃt the invaders. The exigency of affairs would only permit him to aʃʃemble a handful of men in haʃte, by whom he cut off the ʃtragglers, and checked their plundering; but he could not prevent the barbarians from beʃieging Perth. By this time, the king had been joined by a conʃiderable number of his ʃubjects, and was encamped near the confluence of the Tay and the Earn. He advanced to raiʃe the ʃiege, and found his enemy poʃʃeʃʃed of the riʃing ground. A battle enʃued, in which Kenneth exhibited ʃignal proofs of his valour: he led the center of his army in perʃon; Malcolm, prince of Cumberland, commanded the right wing; and the thane of Athol the left. Previous to the engagement, the king promiʃed, according to the Scotch authors, ten pounds in ʃilver, or the value of it in land, for the head of every Dane which ʃhould be brought to him; and an immunity from all taxes to the ʃoldiers who ʃerved in his army, if they ʃhould prove victorious. The truth of this fact, however, is very queʃtionable, when we conʃider the innate hatred which had always ʃubʃiʃted between the Scots and the Danes, and the great difficulty Kenneth would have found in fulfilling his promiʃes.
Whatever may be in thoʃe facts, it is certain the Danes fought ʃo deʃperately, that the Scots, notwithʃtanding the noble example ʃet them by their monarch in his own perʃon, muʃt have been totally routed, had they not been met by a yeoman and his two ʃons, of the name of Hay, who were coming up to the battle, armed with ʃuch ruʃtic weapons as their condition in life afforded them. Partly by threats, and partly by calling out that help was at hand, the three brave countrymen ʃtopt the Scots at a narrow paʃs, which they manned; and perʃuading them to rally, they led the troops once more againʃt the enemy. The fight was now renewed with ʃuch fury on the part of the Scots, that the Danes were entirely defeated.4 After the battle, the king rewarded Hay with the large barony of Errol, in the carʃe of Gowry, ennobled his family, and gave him an armorial bearing alluding to the agricultural weapons they uʃed in their brave atchievement. Such was the riʃe of the illuʃtrious family of Errol, whoʃe deʃcendant was high-conʃtable of Scotland in the reign of Robert the firʃt, and the deʃcendant from him now claims the ʃame honour. The Short Chronicle I have ʃo frequently mentioned, ʃpeaks of Kenneth having fortified the banks of the Forth; by which we ʃuppoʃe is meant, that he guarded them againʃt the Daniʃh invaʃions. The ʃame author likewiʃe mentions his invading Britain, and his ravaging Saxony: by which perhaps we are to underʃtand England, and carrying off a ʃon of the Saxon king. Hiʃtory furniʃhes us with no light as to any of thoʃe incidents; but we have in the note ʃubjoined the words of the Chronicle, in their preʃent mutilated ʃtate.5 It is certain, that the defeat of the Danes at Loncarty procured repoʃe for Scotland, while they were over-running England, and even rendering it tributary.
It is greatly to be regretted, that the actions of this glorious reign are not attended by a chronology which can be depended on. Fordun places the acceʃʃion of Kenneth to the crown in the year 970; and tells us, that Edgar, king of England, died in the ʃixth year of his reign, which agrees with the Engliʃh computation and the Saxon Chronicle. We are likewiʃe ignorant of the meaʃures purʃued by Kenneth, for altering the courʃe of the ʃucceʃʃion, and diverting it into his own family; but we are certain that they occaʃioned great and general diʃʃatiʃfaction throughout the kingdom. Malcolm, the ʃon of Duff, was then prince of Cumberland, and conʃequently was conʃidered as apparent heir to the crown.
The Engliʃh hiʃtorians have not informed us far the king of England was concerned in this alteration: but undoubtedly he had a right to be conʃulted; becauʃe, by the original ceʃʃion of Cumberland, he was a kind of guarantee for that prince’s ʃucceeding to the crown of Scotland. We learn from Fordun, that in a convention of the ʃtates it was agreed, that the king’s eldeʃt ʃon or daughter, tho’ only a year old, ʃhould inherit the crown; and that Malcolm, the ʃon of Duff, being dead, Malcolm, the ʃon of Kenneth, ʃwore allegiance to Etheldred, king England, for Cumberland.
There is ʃome reaʃon for ʃuʃpecting that Kenneth had purchaʃed the acquieʃcence of his great lords to this ʃtatute, by granting them exorbitant eʃtates, which rendered them in a manner independent on the crown. Be this as it may, we have the ʃtrongeʃt grounds to conclude, that during all the ʃubʃequent reign of this prince, the bulk of the Scotch nation was far from being reconciled to the alteration of the mode of ʃucceʃʃion. Tumults and inʃurrections happened in various parts of the country, particularly in Roʃs-ʃhire; and dangerous conʃpiracies were formed againʃt the king’s life. Kenneth ʃuppreʃʃed and puniʃhed the inʃurgents, though he could not the conʃpirators.
In the mean time a ʃcene of the moʃt horrid nature was acted, which is related by Buchanan and the Scotch hiʃtorians as follows: Two powerful noblemen, Cruethnet (or as he is called by Fordun, Cruchne) and his grandʃon Crathilinth, by his daughter Fenella, were in poʃʃeʃʃion of the counties of Angus and Mearns. The latter viʃiting the former at his caʃtle of Delbogyn, with a large retinue, the ʃervants of the two noblemen quarrelled, and two of Crathilinth’s followers were killed; of which he complained to his mother when he returned home. Inʃtead of appeaʃing him, ʃhe prompted him to revenge; and he accordingly returned with a numerous attendance to Delbogyn, where, being admitted, he murdered his grandfather, with all his family; plundered the caʃtle; and returned in triumph to his mother at Fettercairn. The people of Angus made repriʃals on the eʃtates of Crathilinth; and Kenneth was obliged to interpoʃe, by ʃummoning all parties to appear before him at Scone in fifteen days. Crathilinth, however, inʃtead of obeying the ʃummons, retired with his followers to Lochaber; whither the king purʃuing him, brought him priʃoner to Dunʃinane, and afterwards put him to death.
Though I have related this ʃtory as I find it in Boece and Buchanan, with all its ʃhocking circumʃtances, yet a ʃtrong ʃuʃpicion of its authenticity ariʃes from the ʃilence of Fordun, who only ʃays, “that Finella conʃpired the death of the king out of reʃentment for that of her ʃon, who had by the ʃeverity of the law, or by ʃome other event he cannot account for, loʃt his life at Dunʃinane a long time before.” In ʃhort, from the manner of Fordun’s relation, I am inclined to think the whole narrative of the above aʃʃaʃʃination fabulous; and that Crathilinth was put to death for a conʃpiracy on account of the ʃucceʃʃion. It is moʃt probable, therefore, that the death of Malcolm Duff, prince of Cumberland, renewed the practices of the conʃpirators.
Boece, Buchanan, and other Scotch hiʃtorians, without the leaʃt authority from Fordun, or any ancient writer, have wantonly murdered the reputation of Kenneth by ʃuppoʃing that he procured the death of Malcolm Duff (who bears an excellent character in hiʃtory) by poiʃon, to make way for his own ʃon, Malcolm, to ʃucceed him. The atrocity of the fact, the character of Kenneth, the ʃilence of Fordun, and the improbability of poiʃoning being then practiʃed in Scotland, concur in diʃproving the authenticity of this charge. It is univerʃally allowed, that Kenneth expreʃʃed the moʃt poignant ʃorrow for Malcolm’s death; that he honoured him with a noble burial; and that, when it happened, he was not even ʃuʃpected. Boece and Buchanan, to give their relation the appearance of conʃiʃtency, pretend it was not till after the death of Malcolm Duff, that declared himʃelf on the ʃubject of the ʃucceʃʃion; but there is great reaʃon, from the words of Fordun, to think, that the meaʃure had been agreed upon ʃome years before. The laʃt-mentioned writer likewiʃe tells us, that a few of the ʃticklers for the old mode diʃʃented from the ʃtatute; and that upon the death of Malcolm Duff, the king ʃent his own ʃon to the Engliʃh court, where he took the oath of fealty to king Etheldred for his principality. It is no wonder, if the influence and power of the competitors for the ʃucceʃʃion, after the death of Malcolm Duff, ʃtrengthened the conʃpiracy already formed againʃt Kenneth; and that he ʃhould be loaded with the imputation of having poiʃoned Malcolm. At the head of this conʃpiracy was Conʃtantine, the ʃon of Culen, and Grime, the ʃon of Mogal, brother to king Duff; both of them powerful rivals to young Malcolm, but excluded by the late ʃtatute from all hopes of the ʃucceʃʃion, which enacted, “That the king’s eldeʃt ʃon, for the future, ʃhould always ʃucceed to his father, whatever his age ʃhould be: likewiʃe, if the ʃon died before the father, that the next of kin ʃhould ʃucceed the grandfather. That, when the king was under age, a tutor or protector ʃhould be choʃen, being ʃome eminent man for intereʃt and power, to govern in name and place of the king, till he came to be fourteen years of age; and then he had liberty to chooʃe guardians for himʃelf.” The order of ʃucceʃʃion in private families, is ʃaid to have been altered at the ʃame time in many particulars.
Buchanan, tho’ the profeʃt enemy of monkiʃh miracles and revelations, indulges ʃo much ʃpite at this father of hereditary ʃucceʃʃion to the crown of Scotland, that Kenneth is haunted not only with remorʃe, but with apparitions; and at laʃt, a voice from Heaven adviʃes him to repentance, and warns him of the dreadful conʃequences of his altering the ʃucceʃʃion. Such an intelligent writer as Buchanan never could have admitted ʃuch legendary tales, in his hiʃtory, of a king whom he acknowledges to have been, in other reʃpects, the beʃt and moʃt accompliʃhed of princes, had he not been influenced by the most unjuʃtifiable prepoʃʃeʃʃions. It is true, that Kenneth, upon ʃeeing the formidable oppoʃition his favourite meaʃure was likely to encounter, might take a ʃerious turn; and very poʃʃibly, in order to attach the clergy more firmly to his intereʃts, he made a pilgrimage to the ʃhrine of St. Palladius, in the Merns, the moʃt venerable at that time in Scotland. Tho’ Fordun takes no notice of ʃuch a pilgrimage, yet he ʃays, that Fenella, whom we have already mentioned, confederated with Conʃtantine, the ʃon of king Culen, and Grime, the grandʃon of king Duff, to murder the king. Fenella, with great art, inʃinuated herʃelf into Kenneth’s favour, as he was hunting one day near her houʃe, by acknowledging the juʃtice of her ʃon’s death, and pretending, that if he would favour her with a viʃit, ʃhe would reveal to him the particulars of all the conʃpiracies formed againʃt him. The king, prevailed upon by her preʃʃing intreaties, at laʃt accepted of the invitation; and while he was admiring a curious braʃs ʃtatue, was ʃhot through the heart by an arrow, diʃcharged by means of wheels and pullies from the image, which inʃtantly killed him. Buchanan diʃbelieves Boece and Major in this relation, without obʃerving that they copied it from Fordun. Perhaps Kenneth might be conʃidering a ʃtatue (for religious ʃtatues were common in thoʃe days) when he was murdered by the conʃpirators; though Winton, a more ancient hiʃtorian than Boece, without mentioning the ʃtatue, ʃays, that Kenneth was ʃlain by ʃome horʃemen, placed in ambuʃh, at the command of Fenella. Buchanan, I believe very juʃtly, with Fordun, fixes this monarch’s death to the year 994.
Before we cloʃe our account of the reign of this great prince, we ʃhall mention the ʃtory of an interview between him and Edgar, king of England, which, though related by the Engliʃh hiʃtorians to his diʃcredit, reflects the higheʃt honour on his character. Happening one day to be a little elevated with liquor (this muʃt have been in the beginning of his reign, when he was a young man) in the company of ʃome Engliʃh noblemen, he reproached them for ʃuffering themʃelves to be governed by a prince of ʃuch a diminutive ʃtature as Edgar. This converʃation reaching that monarch’s ear, on pretence of buʃineʃs he drew Kenneth into a ʃolitary part of a wood, where producing two ʃwords, he deʃired Kenneth to take his choice, and give him ʃatisfaction for the inʃult he had offered. Kenneth, however, declined the combat, and apologized to Edgar for the affront, which he ʃaid had been occaʃioned by intoxication. Edgar immediately forgave him, and they parted good friends. Allowing this ʃtory to be true, it affords a ʃtrong preʃumption againʃt the pretended vaʃʃalage of Kenneth to Edgar, who ʃeems to have treated him as a ʃovereign prince; and the Scottiʃh king muʃt have been in the laʃt ʃtate of intoxication if he reproached others with a meanneʃs to which he himʃelf was obliged to ʃubmit.
The ʃtrength of the confederacy againʃt Kenneth ʃoon appeared. His attendants, tired out with waiting near Fenella’s caʃtle, at length broke open the doors, and found their king murdered; but Fenella eʃcaped by a poʃtern, and joined the conʃpirators: upon which Kenneth’s attendants laid the place in aʃhes, and carried the royal body to be buried at Icolm-kill. It does not certainly appear, that prince Malcolm was in Scotland at the time of his father’s death; becauʃe Fordun ʃays, that Conʃtantine the Bald mounted the throne the very next day, and was crowned. Later hiʃtorians pretend, that Malcolm was interring his father when this happened. Buchanan ʃpeaks of the great art Conʃtantine employed to obtain the crown; and puts into his mouth the very arguments he himʃelf has urged in other parts of his works againʃt hereditary ʃucceʃʃion. Upon hearing of Conʃtantine’s uʃurpation, Malcolm raiʃed an army and invaded Scotland; but finding his competitor at the head of one more powerful, he was compelled to retire to Cumberland, where he remained on the defenʃive. In his abʃence, Malcolm was well ʃerved by his natural uncle Kenneth, who, at the head of a body of troops, took poʃʃeʃʃion of the ʃtrong paʃs at Stirling, and prevented Conʃtantine from purʃuing his brother. Both armies lay, without either venturing to attack the other, till many of Conʃtantine’s ʃoldiers periʃhed for want of proviʃions, and he was at laʃt obliged to diʃband his troops. In the mean time, the miʃeries which England ʃuffered under the Danes, who were ravaging Northumberland, had obliged Malcolm to take the field; and Conʃtantine embraced that opportunity to invade Lothian, which Malcolm, at this time, undoubtedly held under the crown of England, though by what tenure is very uncertain. Conʃtantine was oppoʃed by Kenneth the Baʃtard, who encountered him at Cramond, where, tho’ inferior in number, he made ʃuch an excellent diʃpoʃition of his troops, that he defeated Conʃtantine’s army; but happening to engage him hand to hand, both princes were killed.
The remains of Conʃtantine’s army which eʃcaped from the battle joined Grime, whom we have mentioned to be the grandʃon of king Duff, and whom Fordun calls Conʃtantine’s collegue; by which, I ʃuppoʃe, he means his apparent heir. As Conʃtantine reigned a year and a half, this muʃt have happened in the year 996, when it is certain that Grime was crowned at Scone. Upon his elevation to the throne, affected great moderation, diʃtributing his favours equally to all parties, and even to the known friends of Malcolm: it is likewiʃe probable, that he would have left Malcolm in quiet poʃʃeʃʃion of all he held on the ʃouth of the Forth. Fordun and the old hiʃtorians draw a moʃt dreadful picture of the miʃeries of Scotland, after the death of Kenneth, for nine years; for Malcolm appears to have had a number friends in the kingdom, though the affections of the people inclined to his competitor, who reʃembled his father in his reʃolution and genius. Finding Grime’s intereʃt far ʃuperior to his own, Malcolm employed ʃecret emiʃʃaries, who detached a number of the king’s friends from his party, which Grime perceiving, had again recourʃe to arms. Malcolm likewiʃe raiʃed troops, under pretence that Grime had impriʃoned his ʃervants; but his party was ʃo diʃunited and intimidated, that his preparations proved ineffectual; and he once more left in poʃʃeʃʃion of the field and the throne. As Malcolm was preparing for a freʃh invaʃion, a good biʃhop, one Fochad, offered his mediation between the two parties; which being accepted of, the following conditions were agreed to: That Grime ʃhould retain the name of king as long as he lived, and that after Malcolm’s death, the whole kingdom ʃhould return to him; but that for the future, the law of Kenneth, for eʃtabliʃhing the ʃucceʃʃion in the laʃt king’s children, ʃhould be obʃerved as ʃacred and inviolable. In the mean time, the wall of Severus was to be the boundary of their dominions: that which was north of the wall, was to belong to Grime; and that ʃouth of the wall, to Malcolm.
I do not hazard a great deal in ʃaying, that by this peace, the Scots in general were again ʃubjected to the power of their rapacious and oppreʃʃive nobles, whom Grime, perhaps, was obliged to ʃupport; and is therefore called a tyrant, though poʃʃeʃʃing all the accompliʃhments in body and mind of a great prince. Malcolm and his party continued quiet for eight years, according to Buchanan; but the oppreʃʃions of Grime’s government becoming at laʃt inʃupportable, the Scots looked up to Malcolm as their deliverer. Fordun gives us another idea of this reign. He repreʃents the eight years peace as being pregnant with the moʃt terrible calamities to the people; and the moʃt deʃcriptive part of his hiʃtory is the character he gives of prince Malcolm. “The people (ʃays he) were much better pleaʃed with the actions of Malcolm than of Grime; for there was ʃcarcely a man in the kingdom who could equal Malcolm in the exerciʃes of the field, either in his wars or his amuʃements. Our Hiʃtorical Annals6 repreʃent him as ʃkilful in the management of the ʃword and the lance; and of his bearing to a miracle, hunger, thirʃt, cold, and the longeʃt watching. He cautiouʃly guarded himʃelf againʃt all ʃurprizes from Grime, by frequently moving from one part of the country to another; and by gaining upon the affections of many of the nobles, he privately bound them to his intereʃt by oaths of fidelity. His great ʃtrength, and the beauty of his perʃon, became the univerʃal theme of applauʃe and praiʃe, till at laʃt the public voice pointed him out as moʃt worthy of the kingdom. Malcolm being thus conʃcious of his popularity, by advice of the chieftains of his party, ʃent frequent meʃʃages to Grime, deʃiring him to take his choice, either to abdicate the crown of Scotland, which he and his predeceʃʃor had uʃurped, or to fight for it in a pitched battle, or to diʃpute it at ʃingle combat, by putting themʃelves upon the juʃt judgment of God.7 Grime with great indignation, thinking it impoʃʃible to withʃtand his power, put himʃelf at the head of ʃuch of his ʃubjects as he could truʃt, and took the field. He was oppoʃed by Malcolm with a ʃmall, but choice body; and both armies met in a commodious field, at Achnebard, where a moʃt bloody battle was fought. Grime behaved with the greateʃt courage and reʃolution; but being mortally wounded, he was carried out of the field by his followers, and died the ʃame night. His troops immediately retreated, and left Malcolm in poʃʃeʃʃion of the crown and a complete victory. Next day, the news of the king’s death being confirmed, Malcolm ordered his followers to reʃt aʃʃured of his protection, and to give his body burial at Icolm-kill.”
Such is the manner in which our honeʃt old hiʃtorian repreʃents this event, one of the moʃt conʃiderable that can happen in the hiʃtory of any nation; becauʃe it introduced a total alteration, not only in the ʃucceʃʃion, but in the modes of property. Boece and Buchanan, as uʃual, take pleaʃure in repreʃenting Grime, after he became ʃole poʃʃeʃʃor of the crown by the peace, as a moʃt abandoned tyrant. It requires a more minute diʃquiʃition than I can here enter into, to decide upon the juʃtice of his pretenʃions, and that of Malcolm; but I think they were very fully and very candidly acknowledged by Malcolm, when he not only allowed his body to be buried with his anceʃtors, but pardoned all who had been in arms under him. Admitting that Malcolm’s father had obtained a majority, and even a great majority of the nobles, to paʃs the ʃtatute for making the crown hereditary in his family, the queʃtion is, Whether the princes of the blood, who were thereby ʃhut out from their former and conʃtitutional right of ʃucceʃʃion, thought that the aʃʃembly had a legal power of eʃtabliʃhing such a pragmatic, and of altering the fundamentals of government?
I have already obʃerved, that Malcolm was in England at the time of his father’s murder; nor can I ʃee any foundation for the aʃʃertion of thoʃe hiʃtorians who ʃay, that he was at that time crowned king. Such an opinion is againʃt the evidence of hiʃtory; but it is indiʃpenʃable for me to take a view of his conduct, when he reʃided in Cumberland, particularly during the year 999.
At that time, the Danes, not contented with obliging Etheldred, king of England, to pay them tribute, oppreʃʃed his ʃubjects with barbarities unknown even to ʃavage nations. Etheldred was a prince of a moʃt unequal ʃpirit and conduct; and calling together his council, he required Malcolm, as his tributary, to aʃʃiʃt him with money, to defray the arrears due to the Danes. Malcolm anʃwered, with a ʃpirit above the common underʃtanding of the princes of thoʃe times, that, by his oath of fealty, he was obliged to no other ʃervice but that of the field in perʃon, where he was always ready to appear. He told Etheldred, at the ʃame time, with the indignation of the Roman dictator, that it was more glorious to deliver his country from ʃlavery by ʃteel than by gold. Etheldred was diʃʃatisfied with this anʃwer; and accuʃed Malcolm of not only having violated his oath of fidelity, but of favouring the Danes; and he invaded the principality of Cumberland with great fury. An accommodation, however, was ʃoon concluded between them; and it is probable, that Malcolm inʃpired Etheldred with the reʃolution of expelling the Danes out of his kingdom. This ʃcheme was well laid, and we have from hiʃtory no reaʃon to doubt, that Malcolm took the field to aʃʃiʃt in carrying it into execution. It was, however, defeated, by the equinoctial ʃtorms, which diʃperʃed Etheldred’s fleet. Simeon of Durham, an Engliʃh hiʃtorian, informs us, that this year Malcolm, king of the Scots, waʃted Northumberland with a great army; and that he was defeated by Uthred, ʃon to the earl of Northumberland, who planted Durham round with the heads of Scotchmen which were beʃt furniʃhed with hair; and gave an old woman a cow for waʃhing them. The relation of the laʃt-mentioned ludicrous circumʃtance is plainly owing to the author’s diʃlike of the Scots; neither is it material whether it was true or not. The hiʃtorian, however, is miʃtaken in attributing this invaʃion to Malcolm; for he was then only prince of Cumberland, nor does even Fordun give him any other epithet till after the battle of Achnebard. The defeat therefore, here mentioned, muʃt have been given to Grime in one of his Engliʃh expeditions againʃt Malcolm, though it is omitted by the Scottiʃh hiʃtorians.
According to the beʃt chronology, Malcolm mounted the throne of Scotland in 1004. The manner of his acceʃʃion, as mentioned by Fordun, plainly evinces that he never before had taken the title of king. After Malcolm (ʃays he) had obtained the victory, he did not immediately aʃʃume the royal title; but calling together his nobility, he humbly beʃought them, if it could be done agreeably to law, to give him the crown; which they, in conʃequence of the law made in his father’s time, and acknowledged by them as valid, immediately did, by inveʃting him with the diadem. Before we can proceed in the hiʃtory of this prince, it is neceʃʃary to connect it with that of the Danes of England. About the year 995, Anlaf, a Norwegian chief, and Swen, a Dane, called by ʃome Swegen, made a deʃcent upon England. Anlaf was converted to Chriʃtianity, and Swen probably returned to his own country, by which the kingdom of England enjoyed ʃome years of repoʃe. Swen, having deprived his own father of his crown and life, was himʃelf expelled out of Denmark; but after wandering about a fugitive from court to court, the king of Scotland gave him ʃhelter, and by his aʃʃiʃtance Swen remounted the throne of Denmark. That Swen took refuge in Scotland is certain, from the teʃtimony of Adam Bremenʃis, and other northern hiʃtorians; but it is ʃurprizing that an event ʃo glorious for Scotland, as that of reʃtoring a king to his crown, is not commemorated in her annals, eʃpecially as, after his reʃtoration, he reʃettled the Chriʃtian religion, from which he had been an apoʃtate, both in Denmark and Norway; which latter fell to him by ʃucceʃʃion. Some writers pretend, that the Scotland mentioned by the northern hiʃtorians was Ireland: but, upon the whole, there is reaʃon to believe, that he did reʃide for some time in the Britiʃh Scotland. About the year 1002, Etheldred was obliged to renew his negociations with the Danes, and by the aʃʃiʃtance of the excellent Gunhilda, ʃiʃter to Swen, and who is ʃaid to have lived for ʃome time with her brother in Scotland, a peace was concluded, Gunhilda, who was married to Paleg, an Engliʃh nobleman, becoming hoʃtage for the good faith of her countrymen.
This peace ʃerved only to render the Danes more haughty and cruel, if poʃʃible, than ever; and Etheldred, at laʃt, came to a reʃolution to maʃʃacre all who were found in his dominions, which was executed with circumʃtances of barbarity foreign to this hiʃtory. Among the reʃt of the victims was Gunhilda, who ʃuffered with a magnanimity that did honour to her ʃex. The news of this maʃʃacre having reached Swen, he was ʃo exaʃperated that he ʃent over a new fleet, and an army. Being joined by the Danes ʃtill remaining in the north of England, which ʃeems to have been exempted from the late maʃʃacre, all England, and even Malcolm’s poʃʃeʃʃions in the ʃouth of Scotland, was again filled with devaʃtation. We do not, however, find that Swen was at this time in Britain; but the aʃʃiʃtance which Malcolm had given to Etheldred was a ʃufficient motive for the invaʃion. We are told that Ochred was at the head of the Daniʃh army here, but that he was defeated near the village of Brough in Cumberland, by Malcolm, and ʃtript of all his plunder. Swen afterwards arrived in England; but, at this time, the Danes, by their proʃperity, had plunged themʃelves into ʃuch exceʃʃes, that nothing but his preʃence could have reʃtored them to order and diʃcipline; and had not Etheldred been ʃunk in luxury and indolence, or been ʃurrounded and miʃled by traitors, who ʃecretly favoured the Danes, he might before Swen’s ʃecond arrival, which happened ʃo late as the year 1013, have aboliʃhed their dominion in England. Ochred was himʃelf a Dane, but in a manner independent both upon Etheldred and Swen. The latter was ʃo well ʃatisfied with his conduct, that he left him in quiet poʃʃeʃʃion of his principality; and for ʃome time Cumberland enjoyed repoʃe.
Malcolm ʃeems now to have been advanced in years. He had no iʃʃue to ʃucceed him, except a grandʃon by his daughter Beatrix, who was married to a great nobleman, whom Fordun calls the abthane, or chief thane of Dul, which I ʃuppoʃe to be a corruption of the word Thule; and that he was predeceʃʃor to thoʃe lords of the Iʃles who afterwards grew ʃo powerful. This grandʃon’s name was Duncan, and Malcolm naturally conferred upon him the principality of Cumberland. Whether Duncan performed homage to Etheldred for this principality, does not clearly appear; though it is certain, that Malcolm was himʃelf punctual in performing all his engagements with the crown of England. This ʃeems to have exaʃperated Swen, who aʃpired to Etheldred’s throne; for I find, that the Danes renewed their invaʃions into Cumberland, and made ʃeveral deʃcents on the coaʃts of Scotland, but ʃtill with loʃs: for Fordun ʃays, that Malcolm gave them three ʃeveral defeats; and by the conʃtant ʃucceʃʃes of his arms, he acquired the title of The Most Victorious King, which (continues he) is given him in all the writings wherein he is mentioned.
The fidelity of Malcolm to the Engliʃh proved ʃo invincible an obʃtacle to Swen’s ambition, he reʃolved to attack him in the very vitals of his own dominions; and ʃuʃpending for ʃome time his operations in England, he fitted out a great armament, compoʃed of Daniʃh and Norwegian ʃhips, which landed a conʃiderable body of troops on the coaʃt of Scotland, where they were ʃurpriʃed by Malcolm, who cut in pieces all of them except a few who eʃcaped to their ʃhips, with the loʃs only of thirty of his own ʃoldiers.8 This gave ʃome reʃpite to Scotland; but in the mean time, the Engliʃh and Danes, in conjunction, invaded Cumberland. There is here reaʃon to believe, from the words of Fordun, that Duncan had not performed his homage to Etheldred; becauʃe (ʃays he) all the intermediate ʃpace between him and the Engliʃh court was poʃʃeʃʃed by the Danes, who carried their booty twenty miles over land to their ʃhips. Be this as it may, it is certain, that Malcolm joined his grandʃon, and the Danes were again defeated. The incredible populouʃneʃs of the northern kingdoms, in thoʃe times, together with the ʃucceʃʃes of their inhabitants in England, never ʃuffered Swen to be without reʃources of ʃhipping and men. He accordingly gave orders to two of his general officers, who in hiʃtory are called Ocan the Norwegian, and Eneth the Dane, to make a deʃcent with a powerful fleet and army, at the mouth of the Spey. This formidable invaʃion had not been foreʃeen by Malcolm; but he eaʃily conceived that it was meant as a prelude to the entire conqueʃt of his dominions. The ʃpot where the barbarians landed was the inlet to the county of Murray, the beʃt province of his dominions, and from whence they could penetrate into the Highlands. He aʃʃembled in haʃte a ʃmall army, to prevent the ravages of the Danes, who had taken ʃeveral forts in the neighbourhood, and had laid ʃiege to the caʃtle of Nairn, then a place of conʃiderable ʃtrength. Malcolm, notwithʃtanding the diʃproportion of his numbers to thoʃe of the Danes, advanced to fight them; and made a ʃpeech to animate his men, who were already highly exaʃperated by the ʃcenes of blood and devaʃtation that every where ʃurrounded them. Their impatience for revenge was ʃuch, that they neglected all diʃcipline, and advanced with ʃo blind a fury, that they were cut in pieces by the barbarians; the brave Malcolm being carried out of the field deʃperately wounded in the head.
This victory over a handful of undiʃciplined men, encouraged the Danes ʃo much, that, not queʃtioning they ʃhould ʃoon be able to conquer all Scotland, they ʃent for their wives and children. The caʃtle of Nairn fell into their hands, and the garriʃon was put to the ʃword, contrary to the capitulation. As this caʃtle was thought impregnable, and was excellently well provided for a long and vigorous defence, the garriʃons and inhabitants of Elgin and Forreʃs abandoned both places; and the Danes treated the inhabitants in every reʃpect as a conquered people. They obliged them to cut down the corn for their uʃe; and to render the caʃtle of Nairn (as they thought) abʃolutely impregnable, they cut through the ʃmall iʃthmus which joined it to the land.
Malcolm was all this time raiʃing forces in Mar, and the ʃouthern counties. Having at laʃt got together an army, he advanced to diʃpoʃʃeʃs the Danes of their late conqueʃts. He came up with them at Murtloch, near the caʃtle of Balveny, which appears, to this day, to have been a ʃtrong Daniʃh fortification. There Malcolm attacked them, but with ʃuch bad ʃucceʃs, that he loʃt three of his general officers; Kenneth, thane of the Iʃles, Grime, thane of Strathern, and Dunbar, the thane of Lothian. Diʃcouraged by this loʃs, the Scots retreated; but Malcolm took poʃʃeʃʃion of a defile, where he checked the purʃuit of the barbarians, and the Daniʃh general was killed. His death damped the ardour of his men, but infuʃed freʃh courage into the Scots; and Malcolm, in his turn, charged his enemies with ʃuch fury, that he obtained a complete victory; while Olan, the other Daniʃh general, was obliged to withdraw with the remains of his army to Murray, where he took up his winter-quarters.
It ʃeems probable that the Scots, by not purʃuing their victory, had ʃuffered greatly in the battle. Perhaps the danger of another invaʃion rendered them cautious; for we are told, that Malcolm immediately marched his army to Angus. Some of the Scotch hiʃtorians ʃay, that Malcolm killed the Daniʃh chief with his own hand; but all agree, that this victory at Murtloch (where he afterwards founded a biʃhopric) was owing to his perʃonal valour.
The news of the defeat of the Danes in Scotland was ʃo far from diʃcouraging Swen, that he gave orders for a freʃh deʃcent to be made by two fleets, one from England, and the other from Norway, under the command of Camus, one of his moʃt renowned generals. His army was compoʃed of veterans, and the deʃcent was to be made at the mouth of the Forth. All the places there were ʃo well fortified, that he found a landing was impracticable; but he effected it at Redhead, in the county of Angus. He immediately marched to Brechin, where he beʃieged the caʃtle; but not being able to take it, he laid the town and the church in aʃhes. From thence he advanced to the village of Panbride, and encamped, as there is reaʃon to believe, at a place called Karboddo. By this time, Malcolm was at hand with his army, and encamped at a place called Barr; and both ʃides prepared for a battle, which was to determine the fate of Scotland; for it is more than probable, that the Danes then remained in full poʃʃeʃʃion of the county of Murray, and ʃome of the neighbouring provinces. The reader may eaʃily conceive the arguments made uʃe of by the generals of both armies. According to the hiʃtory of the ancient family of Keith, a young prince who commanded the Catti (a German clan which had been ʃome time ʃettled in the province of Caithneʃs, which takes its name from them) ʃerved that day as a feodary in Malcolm’s army, and bore a great ʃhare in the battle, which was deʃperate and bloody on both ʃides. Camus was at the head of the troops which had conquered England; but thoʃe under Malcolm were fighting for all that could be dear to a brave people. The ʃlaughter was ʃuch that the neighbouring brook of Loch-Tay is ʃaid to have run with blood. At laʃt, victory declared herʃelf in favour of the Scots, and the Danes were put to flight: they were purʃued by young Keith, who overtook Camus, and killed him with his own hand. Another Scotch officer coming up, diʃputed with Keith the glory of this action; and while the conteʃt laʃted, Malcolm arrived in perʃon. The caʃe was ʃuch, that it could be decided only by ʃingle combat; in which Keith proving victorious, his antagoniʃt confeʃʃed the truth; and Malcolm dipping his fingers in the wounds of the expiring perʃon, marked the ʃhield of Keith with three bloody ʃtrokes, and pronouncing the words Veritas vincit, or “Truth overcomes,” the ʃame has ever ʃince been the armorial bearing and motto of his deʃcendants.
Though I have related this battle according to what I find in the Scotch hiʃtorians, yet I am ʃtrongly inclined to believe, that two battles were fought at a ʃhort diʃtance from each other; and that the laʃt, which proved deciʃive, was at Aberlemno, within four miles of Brechin, where the Danes were totally defeated. Few actions of ʃuch antiquity are better atteʃted than theʃe. Even the Little Chronicle mentions Malcolm’s great war at Barr; and two ʃtones, which are ʃtill to be ʃeen, with other monuments erected at the time (an account of which the reader will find in the notes)9 are rude, though noble and authentic monuments of Malcolm’s two victories. One of thoʃe monuments, which is called Camus-Croʃs, I conjecture to have been erected by the piety of Malcolm, to propitiate for the ʃoul of the Dane, who perhaps was a heathen; and to expreʃs the triumph of Chriʃtianity over Paganiʃm. The figures on the other, at Aberlemno, are plainly warlike and triumphal.
The broken remains of the Daniʃh army reached their ʃhips; but meeting with croʃs-winds, and being deʃtitute of proviʃions, they put five hundred men on ʃhore on the coaʃt of Buchan, to range the country for food. They were diʃcovered by Mernan, the thane of Buchan, who cut off their communication with their ʃhips, and forced them to retire to a hill, where they fortified themʃelves as well as they could with large ʃtones. The Scots ʃeveral times attempted to diʃlodge them; but being repulʃed with ʃome loʃs, they were reinforced with numbers, and mounted the hill with ʃo much reʃolution, that they broke into the Daniʃh entrenchment, and put every man of them to the ʃword. The place where this maʃʃacre happened is ʃtill called Crudane, which I take to be an abbreviation of Cruor Danorum, the appellation given it by the eccleʃiaʃtics or monks of thoʃe days.
The care of the Scots in erecting monuments of their glorious victories over the Danes in their own country cannot be ʃufficiently commended, as they ʃcarcely are mentioned by the Engliʃh hiʃtorians. From them, however, we learn, that Swen ʃent his ʃon Canute, one of the greateʃt warriors of the age, afterwards king of England, and ʃurnamed the Great, with an army more powerful than any of the former, to invade Scotland, where the Daniʃh fleet, after the ʃlaughter at Crudane, had reached Murray. Even this formidable invaʃion did not daunt the Scots, who ʃeem by this time to have become excellent troops. Either by deʃign or accident, Canute landed at Buchan; a circumʃtance which, together with the remains of Daniʃh encampments in that country, inclines me to believe, that they had ʃtill a footing there. The Scots may be reaʃonably ʃuppoʃed to have been, by this time, conʃiderably weakened by their repeated invaʃions; and for that reaʃon, as well as on account of Canute’s reputation in war, Malcolm determined to act upon the defenʃive, by harraʃʃing his enemies, and cutting off their convoys. The Scots, who now thought themʃelves invincible, did not reliʃh that ʃkirmiʃhing method of fighting, and called aloud for a general engagement. Malcolm complied with their ardour, and a bloody battle was fought, which, as the Scotch hiʃtorians ʃay, afforded no matter of triumph to either ʃide. I can by no means be of that opinion, becauʃe it produced a peace which gave Malcolm all that he could have expected from a victory. The terms concluded between him and Canute were, That the Danes ʃhould depart and leave Murray and Buchan; and that as long as Malcolm and Swen lived, neither of them ʃhould wage war with the other, nor help one another’s enemies: that the field in which the battle was fought, ʃhould be ʃet a-part, and conʃecrated for the burial of the dead. Thoʃe terms prove the Scots to have been far from barbarous when they were concluded; and that the Danes, as well as Canute, had been converted to Chriʃtianity. The ʃtipulations were punctually fulfilled by Malcolm, who built in the neighbourhood a chapel, dedicated to Olaus, the tutelar ʃaint of thoʃe northern nations. It is remarkable, that ʃince the commencement of the preʃent age, human bones of an uncommon magnitude have been diʃcovered, or dug up, near all the places of battle between the Scots and the Danes: a circumʃtance which affords ʃome countenance to thoʃe who alledge, that the latter were, in thoʃe days, of an unuʃual ʃize. The ʃame remark was made by Boece.
When the hiʃtory of Malcolm is duly attended to, he well deʃerves the name of the Legiʃlator of Scotland; and he was, perhaps, the greateʃt prince who ever ʃat upon that throne, not even excepting the firʃt Bruce. Having with wonderful courage and perʃeverance cleared his dominions of their barbarous invaders, he applied himʃelf to the arts of peace; and we ʃhall, in the Eccleʃiaʃtical Hiʃtory, take notice of the great things he did for the church. Lawyers and antiquaries are divided with regard to the antiquity of the feudal law in Scotland; and ʃome have gone ʃo far as to ʃay, that it was unknown even in England before the time of the Norman Conqueʃt. As I am extremely clear that the conʃtituent parts of the feudal law were known not only to the Saxons, but to the Danes, and other northern nations, I can ʃee no reaʃon for ʃuppoʃing it to have been unknown to Malcolm and his people; and I am of opinion with thoʃe lawyers who think that it was imported thither by Fergus, commonly called the ʃecond. But whether the Regiam Majeʃtatem of Scotland (ʃo called from its firʃt two words) which contains the code of the ancient Scotch law, was borrowed from the Engliʃh, is a queʃtion that belongs more properly to a lawyer than a hiʃtorian. That it is of great and undoubted antiquity, is not diʃputed by any; and that it is not later than the time of king David the firʃt or ʃecond: ʃo that it is at leaʃt a record of the higheʃt authority. It was publiʃhed by the learned Skene, who was the greateʃt antiquary in thoʃe matters that Scotland ever produced, and approved of by parliament in the reign of James the third. Prefixed to it are the laws of king Malcolm, approved of by the ʃame authority; and in the firʃt chapter of thoʃe laws, which treats of ward and relief, we read as follows: “King Malcome gave and diʃtributed all his lands of the realm of Scotland amongʃt his men; and reʃerved nathing in propertive to himʃelfe, bot the royall dignitie, and the Mute-hill of Scone; and all his barons gave and granted to him, the warde and relief of the heir of Ilk-Baron, quhen he ʃhould happen to deceis, for the king’s ʃuʃtentation.”
The Scotch hiʃtorians have blamed Malcolm for this liberality; and ʃome have imagined that before this time the king held all the lands in Scotland in fee. It is eaʃy to prove, from the Engliʃh hiʃtory, that the Saxon holdings in England by the thanes were ʃtrictly feudal; and as the word Thane occurs in the Scotch hiʃtory, at the ʃame time, there can be no reaʃon for doubting that the ʃame conʃtitution prevailed there. A thane ʃometimes had a grant of lands for a certain term, at the expiration of which it might be renewed by the king; ʃometimes he held it for life, and at his death, the king might continue it to his ʃon: ʃo that, in one ʃenʃe, during a long reign, the greateʃt part of the lands in the kingdom might lapʃe to the crown. About the time we now treat of, the feudal conʃtitutions began to favour hereditary right, and property to be more fixed in families; nor was there any wonder if a prince, who, like Malcolm, had been ʃo well ʃerved by his ʃubjects, gave them a perpetual right to the lands which they had held ʃo precariouʃly before: but it is abʃurd and againʃt every evidence of hiʃtory to think, that the king did not reʃerve his demeʃne lands, which were to ʃupport his family and houʃhold; and that he had no other ʃuʃtentation than wardʃhips and reliefs. We meet with charters of large grants made, after this ceʃʃion, by Malcolm and his ʃucceʃʃors. Upon the whole, the law publiʃhed by Skene and here repeated, muʃt either be ʃpurious, or imply the meaning I have given it. As to the reʃervation of the Mute-hill, it was perhaps, a form which aroʃe from cuʃtoms that cannot now be accounted for.
It was not long before Malcolm was again involved in difficulties, on account of the principality of Cumberland. Canute, after his acceʃʃion to the Engliʃh throne, required Duncan to pay him homage; and ʃent him repeated ʃummonʃes for that purpoʃe, which Duncan as often refuʃed to obey, on pretence that his homage was due not to the Daniʃh, but the Saxon kings of England. Canute having then taken a religious turn, was preparing to pay a viʃit to Rome, and had not leiʃure to enforce his orders. Upon his return, in the year 1032, he renewed his demand, which being again neglected to be complied with, he ʃent an army into Cumberland; but, according to Fordun, he headed it himʃelf. Malcolm marched to his grandʃon’s ʃupport with another army; and when both parties were preparing for battle, certain prelates and worthy men interpoʃed: ʃo that a peace was concluded by Malcolm’s agreeing that Duncan, and all his ʃucceʃʃors in the principality of Cumberland, ʃhould pay homage to the kings of England.
This ʃeems to have been the laʃt military expedition of Malcolm. The remaining part of his reign was tranquil, and employed in civil inʃtitutions; part of which, Buchanan very truly ʃays, was copied from his neighbours, meaning the Danes and Saxons. The ʃame hiʃtorian abʃurdly blames him for annexing new titles to certain magiʃtracies, by which he means his encreaʃing the ʃubordinate degrees of authority: an unpardonable fault in the eyes of that author. Fordun acquaints us that, notwithʃtanding all his glorious actions, the factions which had been left by the two laʃt kings ʃtill ʃubʃiʃted, and ʃecretly conʃpired his death, though he had heaped upon them all manner of obligations. They took the opportunity of way-laying him, as he was on his journey to Glamis, and murdered him, after a brave reʃiʃtance. More modern authors with great ʃhew of probability ʃay, that his own domeʃtics were privy to the aʃʃaʃʃination, and fled along with the conʃpirators; but in paʃʃing the lake of Forfar on the ice, it gave way under their weight, and all of them being drowned, their bodies were diʃcovered ʃome days after. The latter part of this account is confirmed by the ʃculptures upon ʃome old ʃtones erected near the ʃpot; one of which is, to this day, called King Malcolm’s Grave-Stone; all of them exhibiting ʃome rude repreʃentations of the murder, and the fate of the aʃʃaʃʃins. The reader who is curious to know the particulars, may ʃee them delineated by Mr. Gordon in his Itinerarium Septentrionale.
Boece and Buchanan inform us, that Malcolm ʃtained the latter part of his reign with avarice and oppreʃʃion, occaʃioned by his own generoʃity in granting away his lands, as we have already ʃeen. Though we have endeavoured to explain this fact, yet it is ʃo expreʃs, and the evidences for it are ʃo ʃtubborn, that many readers may require a farther illuʃtration. For my own part I cannot be eaʃily perʃuaded, that a prince of ʃuch abilities, both civil and military, as Malcolm certainly poʃʃeʃʃed, could be guilty of an act of ʃuch inʃane generoʃity, as our hiʃtorians have repreʃented this ceʃʃion to be. I ʃhall therefore ʃtrengthen what I have already ʃaid by an additional conjecture, which, I hope, will appear rational and natural. Kenneth, the father of Malcolm, had, with great difficulty, fixed the ʃucceʃʃion of the throne in his own family, by an act of the ʃtates; to which ʃo little regard was paid after his death, that two princes ʃucceeded to the crown upon the principles of the old conʃtitution. Malcolm, by his amazing abilities and good fortune, conquered both thoʃe princes, and put an end to their reigns by their deaths; but he no ʃooner mounted the throne than he found it ʃhaken by the moʃt formidable prince then in Europe, who was maʃter of England, Denmark, and Norway, countries the moʃt contiguous to his own kingdom. The good fortune of Malcolm ʃtill continued: he had the glory of defeating his warlike enemies, and of eʃtabliʃhing his throne in tranquillity. Was it not then natural for his ʃubjects who had ʃerved him ʃo bravely, to demand for themʃelves the ʃame privilege which they had ʃo generouʃly granted to him? I am obliged to ʃpeak in thoʃe terms, becauʃe the alteration of the ʃucceʃʃion can admit of no other. Did not ʃound policy require, that after the crown was rendered hereditary, private eʃtates ʃhould become ʃo likewiʃe? Had not this alteration taken place in the latter caʃe, a king of Scotland, in leʃs than a century, muʃt have been deʃpotic, and conʃequently his people ʃlaves.
Upon the whole, therefore, I muʃt conʃider this ʃtep in a light very different from that in which it has been hitherto repreʃented; and that it roʃe from a pact either expreʃs or underʃtood, between the king and his nobility. The only difficulty now remaining, therefore, is, how the king came to be ʃo imprudent as to diʃpoʃe of all the lands in his kingdom. I have already, in part given my opinion on this head; which is, that he reʃerved his demeʃne lands, and only granted away the eʃtates that were already in poʃʃeʃʃion of the great land-holders; which, together with the reʃervation of wardʃhips and reliefs, and other advantages annexed to the royal authority, he might have thought ʃufficient for maintaining the dignity of his crown and ʃtation. Perhaps he was miʃtaken; and from the words of Fordun he very probably was. Some of the great landholders might claim ʃome of the demeʃne lands as being within their grants; and perhaps the king might reʃume ʃome of their eʃtates as being part of his demeʃne; which might give occaʃion to our old hiʃtorian to inʃinuate that he revoked his grants. I ʃhall finiʃh what I have to ʃay on this important ʃubject by obʃerving, that when the Engliʃh hiʃtorians tell us that William the Conqueror granted to his followers all the lands of England, the demeʃne lands are never underʃtood to be comprehended in that grant. Malcolm was above eighty years of age when he was aʃʃaʃʃinated, of which he reigned thirty.
Duncan mounted the throne in the year 1034. Malcolm, beʃides Duncan’s mother, had another daughter before his death, named Doada, who was married to the thane of Glamis, and is ʃaid to have been mother to the famous Macbeth, whom Winton and our old hiʃtorians call Macbeth Finlay. There is, however, great reaʃon to doubt this genealogy. The firʃt years of Duncan’s reign were tranquil; but it was ʃoon over-caʃt by domeʃtic broils on the following occaʃion. Banquo, thane of Lochaber, and anceʃtor to the royal houʃe of Stuart, acted then in the capacity of ʃteward to Duncan, by collecting his rents (an additional proof of the late king’s having reʃerved the demeʃne lands); but being a ʃevere juʃticiary, and making his collections rigorouʃly, the inhabitants of the country way-laid, robbed, and almoʃt murdered him. Recovering of his wounds he came to court, where he complained of the robbers, who were ʃummoned to ʃurrender themʃelves to juʃtice; but, instead of obeying, they killed the meʃʃenger. The rebels are ʃaid to have been encouraged in this by one Mac-Dowald, who reproached the government and the king as being better fitted to rule droning monks than brave men. This report coming to the ears of Macbeth, he repreʃented the affair ʃo effectually to the king, that he was ʃent with an army to reduce the inʃurgents, who had, by this time, deʃtroyed all the king’s friends in their neighbourhood. Macbeth performed his commiʃʃion with great valour and ʃucceʃs; encountered and defeated the rebels; forced their leader to put an end to his own life; and ʃent his head to the king. He then proceeded with the utmoʃt ʃeverity againʃt his followers; who, we are told, conʃiʃted of Irishmen, Iʃlanders, and Highlanders. Such is the relation given by Boece of the commencement of this reign.
Scarcely was this inʃurrection quelled, when Danes again landed in Fife; and Duncan, ʃhaking off all his indolent habits, put himʃelf at the head of an army, the thanes, Macbeth and Banquo, ʃerving under him. The Danes were commanded by Swen, who is ʃaid to have been the eldeʃt son of Canute, and during his father’s life-time was king of Norway. His purpoʃe was to have conquered Scotland, and to revenge the loʃʃes which the Danes and Norwegians had ʃuffered during the late reign. He proceeded with all the barbarity common to his nation, putting to the ʃword men, women, and children, of all ages and ʃtations. It was not long before a battle was fought between the two nations nigh Culroʃs, in which the Scots were defeated; but the Danes purchaʃed their victory ʃo dearly, that they could not improve it; and Duncan retreated to Perth, while Macbeth was ʃent to raiʃe a new army. Swen laid ʃiege to Perth, which was defended by Banquo, under Duncan. It is probable, that both ʃides were, at this time, under great diʃtreʃs; the beʃiegers for want of proviʃions, all the country round them being laid waʃte; and the beʃieged for want of ʃkill to defend the town, becauʃe Banquo adviʃed Duncan to treat with Swen concerning a capitulation. Swen at firʃt refuʃed to admit of any; but at laʃt agreed to treat, provided the preʃʃing neceʃʃities of his army were relieved. The Scotch hiʃtorians with a very bad grace inform us, that this treaty was entered into on the part of Duncan to amuʃe Swen, and to gain time for the ʃtratagem he was preparing. This was no other than an infamous contrivance for infuʃing herbs of noxious and intoxicating qualities into the liquors which were ʃent with the other proviʃions to the camp of Swen. According to them, thoʃe ʃoporifics had the intended effect; and while the Danes were under their influence, Macbeth and Banquo being then joined, broke into their camp, where they put all to the ʃword, and it was with difficulty that ʃome of Swen’s attendants carried him on board; but we are told, that his was the only ʃhip of all his fleet which returned to Norway. I hope, for the honour of the Scotch nation, that this ʃtory is as falʃe as it is infamous and improbable. Might not the Scots have ʃurpriʃed the Daniʃh camp in the night-time, and have obliged Swen to retire to his ʃhips, without having recourʃe to the practice of drugging the proviʃions that had been ʃent to the Danes upon the public faith?
It was not long before a freʃh body of Danes landed at Kinghorn in the county of Fife. They were ʃoon encountered by the Scotch army, under Macbeth and Banquo, who completely defeated them; and ʃuch of the Danes as eʃcaped the ʃword fled to their ʃhips. It is probable that this battle was fought near Lundin, where ʃeveral monumental ʃtones are ʃtill to be ʃeen, but without inʃcriptions or ʃculptures.10 That they ʃerved as grave-ʃtones cannot be doubted, from the number of bones and coffins found near them containing ʃkeletons of extraordinary ʃizes. Before the Danes ʃet ʃail, they entered upon a treaty with the two Scotch generals, for leave to bury their dead in Inchcolm, a ʃmall iʃland lying in the Forth, with an abbey upon it dedicated to St. Columb; but that abbey has been ʃince erected. A large ʃum of money ʃoon purchaʃed this favour for the Danes; and one of their monuments repreʃenting a ʃtone-coffin, with a Tartar-like head at each end, is ʃtill to be ʃeen on the iʃland. This bargain being ʃtruck the Danes ʃet ʃail for their own country; and thus ended their deʃcents upon Scotland. Before I take leave of thoʃe dreadful invaders, I muʃt mention one of the moʃt ʃtately monuments of the Gothic kind to be ʃeen in Europe, erected at Forreʃs near Murray. For my own part, I entertain not the leaʃt doubt of its being intended by the Scots as a monument of the evacuation of that province, after the peace was concluded between Malcolm and Canute. It originally was above thirty-five feet in height, and five in breadth; and is adorned with rude ʃculptures, which are now unintelligible, but repreʃent warlike trophies and marches on the one ʃide; on the other, a croʃs with two uncouth figures of men, Mr. Gordon is of opinion, that it was erected by the Scots after the battle of Murtloch; but as the Danes were for ʃome years after in poʃʃeʃʃion of Murray, it is more reaʃonable to aʃcribe the erection of it to the event above-mentioned.
After the expulʃion of the Danes, Duncan had leiʃure to indulge his zeal for juʃtice and the reformation of his kingdom, while Macbeth, who had got great reputation by his valour in the late ʃucceʃʃes againʃt the Danes, was hatching ambitious projects. Boece and ʃome of our other hiʃtorians have here given a looʃe to the extravagance of their fancy, by relating the well-known fable of the three weird ʃiʃters appearing to Macbeth and Banquo, who hailed him thane of Glamis, thane of Cawdor, and laʃtly, king of Scotland; but promiʃing Banquo that his poʃterity ʃhould be kings of that realm. Nothing can be more ridiculous than this fiction, which is very juʃtly exploded by Buchanan. Winton tells us, that the whole was no more than a dream of Macbeth. All the truth, perhaps, of the ʃtory is, that Macbeth gave out he had ʃuch a dream, in order to try how it would operate on the minds of the public: a ʃtratagem not uncommon among people in ages more enlightened than we can ʃuppoʃe the Scots to have now been. Fordun is ʃilent as to the whole ʃtory, and repreʃents Duncan in a moʃt amiable light. He had been married to the daughter of Syward, earl or prince of Northumberland, which, by all accounts, had then very little dependence on the crown of England, and by her he had two ʃons; Malcolm, named Canmore, and Donald, surnamed Bane, or the Fair. No ʃooner was Duncan crowned than he ʃettled the principality of Cumberland upon Malcolm; and upon the retreat of the Danes, he cultivated ʃo ʃtrict a friendʃhip with all his neighbours, that he reigned in perfect tranquility. His cuʃtom was to perambulate the kingdom once a year; relieving the oppreʃʃed, puniʃhing the guilty, reconciling differences and quarrels of all kinds, alleviating public miʃfortunes, and mitigating the rigour of tax-gatherers. Thoʃe virtues were far from enʃuring the ʃafety of this excellent prince; for (ʃays our hiʃtorian) the old tribe of conʃpirators meditated his ruin. Their proceedings were not ʃo ʃecret but that the king’s friends had ʃome intelligence of them, and endeavoured to put him on his guard. Duncan, conʃcious of no offence, and unwilling to harbour a ʃuʃpicion of his ʃubjects, diʃcouraged the report, and this gave Macbeth an opportunity of murdering him at Inverneʃs.
Our hiʃtorians are unanimous in painting Macbeth as the moʃt ungrateful and atrocious of criminals, by murdering his uncle, and uʃurping his throne. I am, however, of opinion, that he was deʃcended from the ʃame Fenella who was concerned in the murder of Kenneth the third; and that Macbeth was at the head of a powerful party, which was ʃtill diʃʃatisfied with the alteration of the ʃucceʃʃion, and fought to bring it back to its former principles. For this reaʃon Fordun calls them the old tribe of conʃpirators; and by his expreʃsly telling us, that Macbeth was the ʃon of Fenella, there is reaʃon to believe that he had ʃome family pretenʃions to the crown, founded upon the ancient conʃtitution. My conjectures are the more probable, as the ʃons of the late king were, by this time, grown to men’s eʃtate; and all they could do was to defend themʃelves againʃt Macbeth. This (according to Fordun) they did for two years; when, being unable to hold out longer, Malcolm retired to Cumberland, and Donald fled to the Iʃles. It is not to be doubted, that the young princes left behind them a very ʃtrong party; which gave great uneaʃineʃs to the uʃurper. His troubles were encreaʃed, when he found that Malcolm’s kinʃman, the earl of Northumberland, not only entered warmly into his intereʃt, but introduced him to Edward the Confeʃʃor, then king of England, who having been an exile himʃelf, was naturally diʃpoʃed to pity Malcolm’s misfortunes, and accordingly promiʃed him his aʃʃiʃtance.
In the mean time Macbeth was crowned at Scone, and recognized as king of Scotland, but continued to keep a ʃtrict watch over the party of the exiled princes; in other reʃpects he is allowed to have diʃplayed excellent talents for government. His juʃtice and equity were exemplary. He ʃignalized himʃelf in puniʃhing thieves of all denominations: he endeavoured to gain the eccleʃiaʃtics to his party; and, by the force of money, he actually brought the court of Rome over to his intereʃt. He marched in perʃon into the moʃt remote haunts of his lawleʃs ʃubjects, whom he reduced to order: he ʃubdued and put to death Mac-Gill, the moʃt powerful man in Galloway; a country which, at that time, was indiʃputably governed by its own princes, though poʃʃibly they were homagers to the crown of Scotland. All his abilities could not procure him tranquillity, and he imagined the party of the exiled princes to be more powerful than perhaps it was. This drove him into a ʃeverity, which ʃoon terminated in cruelty. He grew jealous of Banquo, the moʃt powerful ʃubject in his dominions. He invited him to an entertainment, and treacherouʃly ordered him to be murdered in his return; but Banquo’s ʃon Fleance, who was deʃtined to the ʃame fate, eʃcaped. Here the deficiency of the Scotch hiʃtorians at ʃo late a period, is amazing; but it is happily ʃupplied by the Engliʃh.
Edward the Confeʃʃor’s partiality to the Normans had raiʃed up a ʃtrong oppoʃition to his government in the perʃon of the famous earl Godwin; but upon the concluʃion of a peace, Edward was obliged to baniʃh the Normans, or at leaʃt, ʃuch of them as were obnoxious; and particularly two noblemen, whom the hiʃtorians of thoʃe times call Oʃbern and Hugh, who, with their numerous followers, retired to Scotland, where they were kindly received by Macbeth. This naturally rendered the Anti-normannic party in England jealous of Macbeth’s intentions; and prompted Malcolm’s father-in-law, Syward, to be more aʃʃiduous in contributing towards his reʃtoration. There is ʃome reaʃon to believe, that the general diʃʃatisfaction of the Scots at Macbeth’s government was ʃo great, that had it not been for the Normans, he could not have ʃupported himʃelf as he did for almoʃt ʃeventeen years upon the throne, which is the time allotted by Fordun to his reign. The arrival of the Normans in Scotland was in the year 1054, which correʃponds with the fourteenth year of Macbeth’s reign; nor do I perceive that any doubt was raiʃed concerning the legality of his government, till about that period; for Malcolm ʃeems to have lived in his principality of Cumberland, without any thoughts of remounting his father’s throne. The encreaʃing tyranny of Macbeth ʃoon gave him that opportunity.
After the death of Banquo, and the flight of his ʃon Fleance into Wales, Macduff, the thane of Fife, ʃeems to have been the moʃt conʃiderable nobleman in Scotland. The influence he poʃʃeʃʃed was ʃufficient to render him ʃuʃpected by Macbeth; but Macduff was ʃo cautious and prudent, that no legal hold could be laid on his actions, which drove the tyrant ʃo much from his guard, that he dropt ʃome expreʃʃions even in Macduff’s hearing, which convinced the latter his deʃtruction was intended; upon this he fled into England. Macbeth, alarmed at his eʃcape, entered his caʃtle, and baʃely put to death his wife and children, who were yet infants; and ʃequeʃtered all his eʃtate. I am to obʃerve, however, that Fordun does not mention the murders, though he does the confiʃcation; and his words upon that occaʃion are ʃo very remarkable, that they well deʃerve to be tranʃlated here: “There aroʃe (ʃays he) a great diʃcontent all over the kingdom, eʃpecially among the nobles, by whom Macduff was greatly beloved; becauʃe the tyrant, ʃwayed not by juʃtice, but by paʃʃion, had baniʃhed and attainted a nobleman of ʃuch worth and power, without the award of a general meeting of the nobles and ʃtates. They exclaimed it was unjuʃt that any perʃon, be his rank noble or private, ʃhould be either baniʃhed or attainted by a ʃudden arbitrary ʃentence, without having a day preʃcribed to him for his appearance at court in a legal manner; and when appearing there, to be either cleared by law, if innocent; and, if found guilty, to make ʃatisfaction to the king in his perʃon or effects. But in caʃe he ʃhould neglect to attend the court, then ʃentence of baniʃhment ought to take place; or, if the nature of his crime ʃo require, he ought to be attainted.”
Many are the obʃervations that occur from this paʃʃage; the only one I ʃhall mention is, the great conformity which it diʃcovers between the Engliʃh and Scotch conʃtitutions at this period, as we find that earl Godwin was tried exactly in the ʃame manner as Fordun mentions to have been the legal method of trying Macduff. By what we learn from hiʃtory, Macduff was the firʃt who inʃpired Malcolm with the idea of invading Scotland to aʃʃert his hereditary right. That prince had been accuʃtomed to caution; for we are told, that Macbeth had ʃpies who gave him intelligence of whatever paʃʃed in the families which he ʃuʃpected. When Macduff accoʃted him (it is immaterial whether that happened at the court of England, or in Cumberland) Malcolm affected a ʃhyneʃs, which has given riʃe to a ridiculous converʃation handed down by the Scotch hiʃtorians, as if he had confeʃʃed himself guilty of ʃo many vices and crimes, that Macduff thought him unworthy to reign. That Malcolm, (who was a prince of excellent ʃenʃe) was on the reʃerve, can ʃcarcely, conʃidering his circumʃtances, be doubted; but his frankneʃs in confeʃʃing his guilt muʃt have deʃtroyed the very effects he intended. It is ʃufficient to ʃay, he ʃifted Macduff in ʃuch a manner that he thought he could truʃt him; and they underʃtood each other ʃo well, that they immediately applied to the court of England, and to Syward, for aʃʃiʃtance. Edward agreed to Syward’s raiʃing ten thouʃand men in England; and Macduff went to Scotland to apprize Malcolm’s friends of his intention. Macbeth appears to have been well ʃerved by his Norman auxiliaries; for he fought the vanguard of Syward’s army, and killed his ʃon with his own hand. Upon Malcolm’s advancing with the main body, and being joined by Macduff and his party, Macbeth took refuge in the moʃt inacceʃʃible places of the Highlands, where he defended himʃelf for two years; but in the mean time, Malcolm was crowned and acknowledged king of Scotland at Scone.
1 ANGLOS a SCOTIS ʃeparat Crux iʃta remotis:
Arma hic ʃtant BRUTI, ʃtant SCOTI ʃub hac Cruce tuti.
2 “King Athelʃtan going to make war againʃt the Scots, and by the way paying a viʃit to the tomb of that ʃaint (St. John de Beverley) there pawned his knife at the altar, promiʃing to redeem it at his return: but when they had thus fought againʃt the Scots, he begged of God a ʃign, whereby it might appear to future ages, that they were juʃtly vanquiʃhed by the Engliʃh; and thereupon, the king ʃtriking a certain rock with his ʃword, near the caʃtle of Dunbar, he made a gap in it an ell deep.” It ʃeems king Athelʃtan fulfilled his promiʃe, and upon his returning with victory, enriched the church of St. John with great poʃʃeʃʃions, and ʃo, I ʃuppoʃe, got his knife again. There is another miracle related alʃo by the monks, of Athelʃtan’s ʃword being loʃt out of the ʃcabbard, juʃt when he was ready to fight, and another being by miracle put in the place, at the prayers of archbiʃhop Odo; which ʃword, they pretend, was kept in the king’s treaʃury. It is no leʃs a wonder than the former; and one ʃuch as theʃe is enough at one time.
3 William of Malmʃbury calls him, Regulus Deirorum Eligenius.
4 That Hay and his two ʃons performed this ʃervice to their country, ʃeems indiʃputable; but Buchanan, and the Scotch hiʃtorians who follow him, as well as Boece, record it with circumʃtances ʃo improbable, as to detract from the credibility of the action. They tell us, that this Hay and his two ʃons were ploughing in a field near the ʃpot where the battle was fought; and that in looʃing the yokes from their ploughs, they ʃtopt the flight of their countrymen. Is it likely, that theʃe brave, patriotic, able-bodied men, ʃhould employ themʃelves in the peaceful exerciʃe of agriculture, while their country was embroiled in war, and when their king had invited all his ʃubjects to join him? Other improbabilities occur in the uʃual manner of telling the ʃtory; ʃo that I ʃhould have entirely omitted it, if the fact in general had not been atteʃted by very ancient authorities. Upon the whole, the hiʃtories of other nations afford many examples of three or four reʃolute men changing the fate of a battle; nor is it uncommon even in modern times. This ʃeems to have been the caʃe of Hay and his two ʃons, diʃengaged from all improbable circumʃtances. Mr. Gordon, in his Itinerarium Septentrionale, p. 151. fancies that he diʃcovered a monument of ʃtone, near a place called Aberlemny in the county of Angus, with figures cut upon it expreʃʃive of this action. That the Scots of thoʃe days practiʃed a rude ʃculpture, ʃeems beyond all doubt; but the figures on the ʃtones are too much defaced for us to pronounce any thing deciʃive as to their ʃubject.
5 Cinadius (meaning Kenneth) fil. Maelcolami regn. an ʃtatim prædavit Britanniam ex parte pedeʃtres, Cinadi occiʃi ʃunt maxima cæde in moni cacornax (ʃic) & ad Staugna (ʃic) de rain. Cinadius autem vallavit ripas vadorum Forthin. Primo anno perexit Cinadius, & prædavit Saxoniam, & traduxit filium regis Saxonum. Hic eʃt qui tribuit magnam civitatem Brechne domino.
6 The original is ANNALES HISTORIÆ. This is a proof that Fordun had hiʃtorical regiʃters, which he conʃulted in writing his hiʃtory, though they are now deʃtroyed, or not to be met with.
7 Orig. “Juʃto Dei judicio.” This is a feudal expreʃʃion, and very common with the Engliʃh hiʃtorians when they mention an appeal to, and an award of, ʃingle combat.
8 I am not certain, whether this action ought to be mentioned here, because Fordun ʃays, that it happened a very few days after Malcolm’s coronation.
9 “Buchanan makes mention of an old obeliʃk erected on that ground, in memory of the ʃaid battle. This monument I viewed; it is intire, and to this day, called Camus’s-Croʃs; but upon ʃight thereof, I could gather little from the figures thereupon towards an illuʃtration of the aforeʃaid action; moʃt of them ʃeeming rather emblems of devotion than victory. We are nevertheleʃs aʃʃured, by unconteʃted tradition, that this croʃs was erected on occaʃion of Camus’s death near that place.
“This ʃtone is divided on each ʃide into three compartments; on the higheʃt of which is a repreʃentation of our Saviour upon the croʃs, but done in a very rude manner; on the right hand is the figure of a man; the other, on the left, being intirely defaced: within the ʃecond diviʃion is a Sagittarius; the upper part of which reʃembles a man, with a bow in his hand; the lower part a four-footed beaʃt; and this is alʃo done with a very Gothic and barbarous taʃte. In the third diviʃion are only ʃome waved ornaments; the whole is in low relievo. On the reverʃe ʃide, within the firʃt compartment, is another repreʃentation of our Saviour, with the angels adminiʃtring to him. The ʃecond and third compartments contain four other figures, which may probably repreʃent the four evangeliʃts.
“Commiʃʃary Maul, whom we have had occaʃion to mention before, in his MS. Hiʃtory of Scotland, gives an account of the figures upon this ʃtone, as he obʃerved them above one hundred and twenty [370+] years ago, with other curious circumʃtances of antiquity, which I here preʃent, tranʃlated verbatim from his own original Latin. “About eight miles from Brechen, at Karboddo, a place belonging to the earl of Crawford, are to be ʃeen the veʃtiges of a Daniʃh camp, fortified with a rampart and ditch, and vulgarly called Norway Dikes; near which is the village of Panbride, where was anciently a church dedicated to St. Brigide, becauʃe on that ʃaint’s day, which preceded the battle, Camus, general of the Danes, pitched his camp there. Not far from hence is the village of Barrey, where a mighty battle was fought between the Danes and Scots, with great ʃlaughter on both ʃides, near the mouth of a ʃmall rivulet called Lough-Tay. There many little artificial mounts, or tumuli, are ʃtill to be ʃeen, within which were buried the bodies of thoʃe ʃlain in the fight; and becauʃe the ʃoil thereabouts is ʃandy, the wind blowing away the ʃand, frequently diʃcovers bones of a ʃize much exceeding men in our age. Near this is Camus-Town, a village belonging to the barons of Panmure, and noted for the death of Camus, ʃlain there, it being only a mile from the field of battle: there, to this day, is to be ʃeen an obeliʃk, whereon little is engraven to evince the truth thereof: for, upon the eaʃtʃide is the figure of Moʃes [if I miʃtake not] giving out the law, engraven in three diviʃions; and on the ʃide towards the weʃt, upon the upper part, is the effigies of our Saviour on the croʃs; below which is the repreʃentation of a horʃeman ʃhooting with a croʃs-bow: this is all I could obʃerve at that time; but nine years after I wrote that treatiʃe, a plough turning up the ground, near this obeliʃk, diʃcovered a large ʃepulchre, believed to be that of Camus, encloʃed with four great ʃtones. Here a huge ʃkeleton was dug up, ʃuppoʃed to have been the body of Camus; it appeared to have received its death by a wound on the back part of the head, ʃeeing a conʃiderable part of the ʃkull was cut away, and probably, by the ʃtroke of a sword.”
“I the rather choʃe to give this gentleman’s deʃcription, for that he not only viewed the figures one hundred and twenty [370+] years ago; but alʃo becauʃe he mentions other circumʃtances of antiquity, extremely curious and entertaining; and, indeed, he had a good opportunity of examining theʃe monuments of the Danes, ʃeeing a conʃiderable number of them are on the ground belonging to the earl of Panmure, of which illuʃtrious family he was a ʃon.” Vide Gordon’s Itinerarium Septentrionale, p. 154-155.
10 Upon ʃome of the ʃculptured ʃtones erected in thoʃe times, we meet with the figures of men with the heads of ʃwine, which I ʃtrongly ʃuʃpect to be a punning alluʃion to the name of Swen; and the figure of a brute, perhaps a ʃow, is to be ʃeen on a ʃtone at Inverkeithing.