Donald II of Scotland

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Donald II
King of the Picts/King of Alba
Reign889–900
Predecessor Giric
Successor Constantine II
Died900
Forres or Dunnottar
Burial
Issue Malcolm I, King of Alba
House Alpin
Father Constantín mac Cináeda, King of the Picts

Domnall mac Causantín (Modern Gaelic: Dòmhnall mac Chòiseim), [1] anglicised as Donald II (died 900) was King of the Picts or King of Alba in the late 9th century. He was the son of Constantine I (Causantín mac Cináeda). Donald is given the epithet Dásachtach, "the Madman", by The Prophecy of Berchán. [2]

An epithet is a byname, or a descriptive term, accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It can also be a descriptive title: for example, Pallas Athena, Alfred the Great, Suleiman the Magnificent or Władysław I the Elbow-high.

The Prophecy of Berchán is a relatively long historical poem written in the Middle Irish language. The text is preserved in the Royal Irish Academy as MS 679 (23/G/4), with a few early modern copies. It is prophecy made in the Early Middle Ages.

Contents

Life

Donald became king on the death or deposition of Giric (Giric mac Dúngail), the date of which is not certainly known but usually placed in 889. The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba reports:

The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, or Scottish Chronicle, is a short written chronicle of the Kings of Alba, covering the period from the time of Kenneth MacAlpin until the reign of Kenneth II. W.F. Skene called it the Chronicle of the Kings of Scots, and some have called it the Older Scottish Chronicle, but Chronicle of the Kings of Alba is emerging as the standard scholarly name.

Doniualdus son of Constantini held the kingdom for 11 years [889900]. The Northmen wasted Pictland at this time. In his reign a battle occurred between Danes and Scots at Innisibsolian where the Scots had victory. He was killed at Opidum Fother [modern Dunnottar] by the Gentiles. [3]

Norsemen historical ethnolinguistic group of people originating in Scandinavia

The Norse people or Norsemen were a group of Germanic people who inhabited Scandinavia and spoke what is now called the Old Norse language between c. 800 and 1300 AD. The language belongs to the North Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages and is the predecessor of the modern Germanic languages of Scandinavia. In the late eighth century Norsemen embarked on a massive expansion in all directions. This was the start of the Viking Age.

It has been suggested that the attack on Dunnottar, rather than being a small raid by a handful of pirates, may be associated with the ravaging of Scotland attributed to Harald Fairhair in the Heimskringla . [4] The Prophecy of Berchán places Donald's death at Dunnottar, but appears to attribute it to Gaels rather than Norsemen; other sources report he died at Forres. [5] Donald's death is dated to 900 by the Annals of Ulster and the Chronicon Scotorum, where he is called king of Alba, rather than king of the Picts. He was buried on Iona. Like his father, Constantine, he died a violent death at a premature age.

Harald Fairhair Legendary first King of Norway

Harald Fairhair is portrayed by medieval Icelandic historians as the first King of Norway. According to traditions current in Norway and Iceland in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, he reigned from c. 872 to 930. Supposedly, two of his sons, Eric Bloodaxe and Haakon the Good, succeeded Harald to become kings after his death.

<i>Heimskringla</i> collection of kings sagas, written by Snorri Sturluson

Heimskringla is the best known of the Old Norse kings' sagas. It was written in Old Norse in Iceland by the poet and historian Snorri Sturluson (1178/79–1241) c. 1230. The name Heimskringla was first used in the 17th century, derived from the first two words of one of the manuscripts.

Forres town in Scotland, UK

Forres is a town and former royal burgh situated in the north of Scotland on the Moray coast, approximately 25 miles (40 km) east of Inverness and 12 miles (19 km) west of Elgin. Forres has been a winner of the Scotland in Bloom award on several occasions. There are many geographical and historical attractions nearby such as the River Findhorn, and there are many historical artifacts and monuments within the town itself.

The change from king of the Picts to king of Alba is seen as indicating a step towards the kingdom of the Scots, but historians, while divided as to when this change should be placed, do not generally attribute it to Donald in view of his epithet. [6] The consensus view is that the key changes occurred in the reign of Constantine II (Causantín mac Áeda), [7] but the reign of Giric has also been proposed. [8]

Constantine, son of Áed was an early King of Scotland, known then by the Gaelic name Alba. The Kingdom of Alba, a name which first appears in Constantine's lifetime, was situated in modern-day Scotland. The core of the kingdom was formed by the lands around the River Tay. Its southern limit was the River Forth, northwards it extended towards the Moray Firth and perhaps to Caithness, while its western limits are uncertain. Constantine's grandfather Kenneth I of Scotland was the first of the family recorded as a king, but as king of the Picts. This change of title, from king of the Picts to king of Alba, is part of a broader transformation of Pictland and the origins of the Kingdom of Alba are traced to Constantine's lifetime.

The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba has Donald succeeded by his cousin Constantine II. Donald's son Malcolm (Máel Coluim mac Domnall) was later king as Malcolm I. The Prophecy of Berchán appears to suggest that another king reigned for a short while between Donald II and Constantine II, saying "half a day will he take sovereignty". Possible confirmation of this exists in the Chronicon Scotorum, where the death of "Ead, king of the Picts" in battle against the Uí Ímair is reported in 904. This, however, is thought to be an error, referring perhaps to Ædwulf, the ruler of Bernicia, whose death is reported in 913 by the other Irish annals. [9]

Máel Coluim mac Domnaill was king of Alba, becoming king when his cousin Constantine II abdicated to become a monk. He was the son of Donald II.

Uí Ímair royal Norse dynasty

The Uí (h)Ímair[iː ˈiːvˠaɾʲ](listen), or Dynasty of Ivar, was a royal Norse-Gael dynasty which ruled much of the Irish Sea region, the Kingdom of Dublin, the western coast of Scotland, including the Hebrides and some part of Northern England, from the mid 9th century.

Bernicia was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom established by Anglian settlers of the 6th century in what is now southeastern Scotland and North East England.

See also

Notes

  1. Domnall mac Causantín is the Mediaeval Gaelic form.
  2. ESSH, p. 358; Kelly, Early Irish Law, pp. 9293 & 308: "The dásachtach is the person with manic symptoms who is liable to behave in a violent and destructive manner." The dásachtach is not responsible for his actions. The same word is used of enraged cattle.
  3. ESSH, pp. 395397.
  4. ESSH, p 396, note 1 & p. 392, quoting St Olaf's Saga, c. 96.
  5. ESSH, pp. 395398.
  6. Smyth, pp. 217218, disagrees.
  7. Thus Broun and Woolf, among others.
  8. Duncan, pp.1415.
  9. ESSH, p. 304, note 8; however, the Annals of Ulster, s.a. 904, report the death of Ímar ua Ímair (Ivar grandson of Ivar) in Fortriu in 904, making it possible that Ead (Áed ?) was a king, if not the High King.

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References

Donald II of Scotland
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Giric
with Eochaid ?
King of Alba
889900
Succeeded by
Constantine II