Duncan I of Scotland

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Duncan I
King of Alba
Reign1034–1040
Predecessor Malcolm II
Successor Macbeth
Bornc. 1001
Died(1040-08-14)14 August 1040 [1]
Pitgaveny, near Elgin
Burial
Iona ?
SpouseSuthen
Issue Malcolm III, King of Alba
Donald III, King of Alba
Máel Muire, Earl of Atholl
House Dunkeld
Father Crínán of Dunkeld
Mother Bethóc

Donnchad mac Crinain (Modern Gaelic: Donnchadh mac Crìonain; [2] anglicised as Duncan I, and nicknamed An t-Ilgarach, "the Diseased" or "the Sick"; [3] ca. 1001 – 14 August 1040) [1] was king of Scotland ( Alba ) from 1034 to 1040. He is the historical basis of the "King Duncan" in Shakespeare's play Macbeth .

Kingdom of Scotland Historic sovereign kingdom in the British Isles from the 9th century to 1707

The Kingdom of Scotland was a sovereign state in northwest Europe traditionally said to have been founded in 843. Its territories expanded and shrank, but it came to occupy the northern third of the island of Great Britain, sharing a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England. It suffered many invasions by the English, but under Robert I it fought a successful War of Independence and remained an independent state throughout the late Middle Ages. In 1603, James VI of Scotland became King of England, joining Scotland with England in a personal union. In 1707, the two kingdoms were united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain under the terms of the Acts of Union. Following the annexation of the Northern Isles from the Kingdom of Norway in 1472 and final capture of the Royal Burgh of Berwick by the Kingdom of England in 1482, the territory of the Kingdom of Scotland corresponded to that of modern-day Scotland, bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest.

The Kingdom of Alba refers to the Kingdom of Scotland between the deaths of Donald II in 900 and of Alexander III in 1286, which then led indirectly to the Scottish Wars of Independence. The name is one of convenience, as throughout this period the elite and populace of the Kingdom were predominantly Pictish-Gaels or later Pictish-Gaels and Scoto-Norman, and differs markedly from the period of the Stuarts, in which the elite of the kingdom were speakers of Middle English, which later evolved and came to be called Lowland Scots. There is no precise Gaelic equivalent for the English terminology "Kingdom of Alba", as the Gaelic term Rìoghachd na h-Alba means 'Kingdom of Scotland'. English-speaking scholars adapted the Gaelic name for Scotland to apply to a particular political period in Scottish history during the High Middle Ages.

King Duncan Fictional character in Shakespeares Macbeth

King Duncan is a fictional character in Shakespeare's Macbeth. He is the father of two youthful sons, and the victim of a well-plotted regicide in a power grab by his trusted captain Macbeth. The origin of the character lies in a narrative of the historical Donnchad mac Crinain, King of Scots, in Raphael Holinshed's 1587 The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, a history of Britain familiar to Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Unlike Holinshed's incompetent King Duncan, Shakespeare's King Duncan is crafted as a sensitive, insightful, and generous father-figure whose murder grieves Scotland and is accounted the cause of turmoil in the natural world.

Contents

Life

He was a son of Crínán, hereditary lay abbot of Dunkeld, and Bethóc, daughter of king Máel Coluim mac Cináeda (Malcolm II).

Crínán of Dunkeld was the hereditary abbot of the monastery of Dunkeld, and perhaps the Mormaer of Atholl. Crínán was progenitor of the House of Dunkeld, the dynasty which would rule Scotland until the later 13th century. He was the son-in-law of one king, and the father of another.

Lay abbot is a name used to designate a layman on whom a king or someone in authority bestowed an abbey as a reward for services rendered; he had charge of the estate belonging to it, and was entitled to part of the income. The custom existed principally in the Frankish Empire from the eighth century until the ecclesiastical reforms of the eleventh.

Bethóc ingen Maíl Coluim meic Cináeda was the elder daughter of Máel Coluim mac Cináeda, King of Scots, and the mother of his successor, Duncan I.

Unlike the "King Duncan" of Shakespeare's Macbeth, the historical Duncan appears to have been a young man. He followed his grandfather Malcolm as king after the latter's death on 25 November 1034, without apparent opposition. He may have been Malcolm's acknowledged successor or Tànaiste as the succession appears to have been uneventful. [4] Earlier histories, following John of Fordun, supposed that Duncan had been king of Strathclyde in his grandfather's lifetime, between 1018 and 1034, ruling the former Kingdom of Strathclyde as an appanage. Modern historians discount this idea [5] , although it is supported by the ODNB. [6] .

William Shakespeare English playwright and poet

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His extant works, including collaborations, consist of approximately 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Tanistry is a Gaelic system for passing on titles and lands. In this system the Tanist is the office of heir-apparent, or second-in-command, among the (royal) Gaelic patrilineal dynasties of Ireland, Scotland and Mann, to succeed to the chieftainship or to the kingship.

John of Fordun was a Scottish chronicler. It is generally stated that he was born at Fordoun, Mearns. It is certain that he was a secular priest, and that he composed his history in the latter part of the 14th century; and it is probable that he was a chaplain in St Machar's Cathedral of Aberdeen.

An earlier source, a variant of the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba (CK-I), gives Duncan's wife the Gaelic name Suthen. [7] Whatever his wife's name may have been, Duncan had at least two sons. The eldest, Malcolm III (Máel Coluim mac Donnchada) was king from 1058 to 1093, the second Donald III (Domnall Bán, or "Donalbane") was king afterwards. Máel Muire, Earl of Atholl is a possible third son of Duncan, although this is uncertain. [8]

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.

Malcolm III was King of Scots from 1058 to 1093. He was later nicknamed "Canmore". Malcolm's long reign of 35 years preceded the beginning of the Scoto-Norman age. Henry I of England and Eustace III of Boulogne were his sons-in-law, making him the maternal grandfather of Empress Matilda, William Adelin and Matilda of Boulogne. All three of them were prominent in English politics during the 12th century.

Donald III, and nicknamed "Donald the Fair" or "Donald the White", was King of Scots from 1093–1094 and 1094–1097.

The early period of Duncan's reign was apparently uneventful, perhaps a consequence of his youth. Macbeth (Mac Bethad mac Findláich) is recorded as having been his dux, today rendered as "duke" and meaning nothing more than the rank between prince and marquess, but then still having the Roman meaning of "war leader". In context — "dukes of Francia" had half a century before replaced the Carolingian kings of the Franks and in England the over-mighty Godwin of Wessex was called a dux — this suggests that Macbeth may have been the power behind the throne. [9]

A duke (male) or duchess (female) can either be a monarch ruling over a duchy or a member of royalty or nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch. The title comes from French duc, itself from the Latin dux, 'leader', a term used in republican Rome to refer to a military commander without an official rank, and later coming to mean the leading military commander of a province.

The phrase "power behind the throne" refers to a person or group that informally exercises the real power of a high-ranking office, such as a head of state. In politics, it most commonly refers to a relative, aide, or nominal subordinate of a political leader who serves as de facto leader, setting policy through possessing great influence and/or skillful manipulation.

In 1039, Duncan led a large Scots army south to besiege Durham, but the expedition ended in disaster. Duncan survived, but the following year he led an army north into Moray, Macbeth's domain, apparently on a punitive expedition against Moray. [10] There he was killed in action, at Bothnagowan, now Pitgaveny, near Elgin, by the men of Moray led by Macbeth, probably on 14 August 1040. [11] He is thought to have been buried at Elgin [12] before later relocation to the Isle of Iona.

Durham, England City in England

Durham is a historic city and the county town of County Durham in North East England. The city lies on the River Wear, to the west of Sunderland, south of Newcastle upon Tyne and to the north of Darlington. Founded over the final resting place of St Cuthbert, its Norman cathedral became a centre of pilgrimage in medieval England. The cathedral and adjacent 11th-century castle were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. The castle has been the home of Durham University since 1832. HM Prison Durham is also located close to the city centre. City of Durham is the name of the civil parish.

Punitive expedition

A punitive expedition is a military journey undertaken to punish a state or any group of persons outside the borders of the punishing state. It is usually undertaken in response to perceived disobedient or morally wrong behavior, either as revenge or to apply strong diplomatic pressure without a formal declaration of war. In the 19th century, punitive expeditions were used more commonly as pretexts for colonial adventures that resulted in annexations, regime changes or changes in policies of the affected state to favour one or more colonial powers.

Killed in action (KIA) is a casualty classification generally used by militaries to describe the deaths of their own combatants at the hands of hostile forces. The United States Department of Defense, for example, says that those declared KIA need not have fired their weapons but have been killed due to hostile attack. KIAs do not come from incidents such as accidental vehicle crashes and other "non-hostile" events or terrorism. KIA can be applied both to front-line combat troops and to naval, air and support troops. Someone who is killed in action during a particular event is denoted with a (dagger) beside their name to signify their death in that event or events.

Depictions in fiction

Anachronistic depiction of Duncan I by Jacob de Wet, 17th century Donnchad I.jpg
Anachronistic depiction of Duncan I by Jacob de Wet, 17th century

Duncan is depicted as an elderly king in the play Macbeth (1606) by William Shakespeare. He is killed in his sleep by the protagonist, Macbeth.

In the historical novel Macbeth the King (1978) by Nigel Tranter, Duncan is portrayed as a schemer who is fearful of Macbeth as a possible rival for the throne. He tries to assassinate Macbeth by poisoning and then when this fails, attacks his home with an army. In self-defence Macbeth meets him in battle and kills him in personal combat.

In the animated television series Gargoyles he is depicted as a weak and conniving king who assassinates those who he believes threaten his rule. [13] He even tries to assassinate Macbeth, forcing Demona to ally with the Moray nobleman, with Duncan's resulting death coming from attempting to strike an enchanted orb of energy that one of the Weird Sisters gave to Macbeth to take Duncan down.

Notes

  1. 1 2 Broun, "Duncan I (d. 1040)".
  2. Donnchad mac Crínáin is the Mediaeval Gaelic form.
  3. Skene, Chronicles, p. 101.
  4. Duncan, Kingship of the Scots, p. 33.
  5. Duncan, Kingship of the Scots, p. 40.
  6. Broun, D. 'Duncan I [Donnchad ua Maíl Choluim]', Oxford Dictionay of National Biography, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/8209
  7. Duncan, Kingship of the Scots, p. 37.
  8. Oram, David I, p. 233, n. 26: the identification is from the Orkneyinga saga but Máel Muire's grandson Máel Coluim, Earl of Atholl is known to have married Donald III's granddaughter Hextilda.
  9. Duncan, Kingship of the Scots, pp. 33–34.
  10. G. W. S. Barrow, Kingship and Unity: Scotland 1000–1306, Edinburgh University Press, 1981, p.26.
  11. Broun, "Duncan I (d. 1040)"; the date is from Marianus Scotus and the killing is recorded by the Annals of Tigernach.
  12. "I Never Knew That About Scotland", Christopher Winn, p. 165.
  13. Bishansky, Greg (March 13, 2013). "Station Eight : Gargoyles : Ask Greg Archive : Duncan". S8.org. Retrieved April 18, 2017. Duncan: This guy was a jerk. I mean, really. A paranoid tyrant who thought the world was out to get him. Well, not the world so much as his cousin, Macbeth. I suppose I can understand seeing Macbeth as a threat to the throne, but he just seemed to go out of his way to make Macbeth miserable. He reveled in it. When he died, we were all happy to see him bite it.

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References

Duncan I of Scotland
Born: unknown 14 August
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Malcolm II
King of Scots
1034–1040
Succeeded by
Macbeth