Duncan I succeeded his maternal grandfather Malcolm II as king in 1034 ["Moelcoluim rex Scotiae obiit 7. Kal Decembr. Donchad, filius filiae eius, sibi successit annis 5, mensibus 9." Marianus Scottus, Chronicon, s.a. 1056=1034, MGH SS 5: 556]. Duncan was killed in battle by Mac Bethad mac Findláech (the famous Macbeth) in 1040 [Marianus Scottus, AU, AT, CS, ALC (see below); "Donchath macCrau Abbatis de Dunkeldin et Bethok filia[e] Malcalm macKynnet vi annis reg. et interfectus est a Maketh macFyngel in Bothirgouane et sepultus in Yona insula." Regnal List "D", KKES 268; "Donchath Mac-Trini abbatis de Dunkeld et Bethoc filiæ Malcom-Mac-Kinat 6 an. Interfectus a Macbeth-Mac-Finleg in Bothgouanan et sep. in Iona." List "F", KKES 276; "Item Donchat filius Crini abbatis de Dunkeldin et Betoc filia[e] Malcolin filii Kinet vj. annis et interfectus a Macbeth filio Finled in Bothgouanan et sepultus in Iona insula." List "I", KKES 284; "Dunkan mac Kryn de Dunkeldy et de Betowe fitz Malcome mac Kynech .vi. aunz, et fust tue de Macbeth mac Sinley, ..." List "K", KKES 288]. For the possibility that Duncan ruled as king of Cumbria (Strathclyde) at some point before his accession as king of Scotland, see the Commentary section.
Date of Birth: Say 1010×5?
Place of Birth: Unknown.
The accounts of Duncan's death in the Annals of Tigernach and the Chronicon Scotorum state that he was killed at an untimely or premature age (immatura aetate) [see below under death]. Assuming that he was an adult at the time of his accession, which seems likely, an age at death between 25 and 30 would seem to fit the expression "immatura aetate" well enough. The fact that he was survived by his father, who was killed in battle five years later, also suggests that he died at a fairly young age [see the page of Crínán]. Also, the fact that he succeeded his grandfather suggests that he was fairly young at the time.
Date of Death: 14×15 August 1040.
In his entry on Duncan's death, Marianus Scottus gives a date of 14 August 1040 ["Donnchad rex Scotiae in autumno occiditur <19. Kal. Sept.> a duce suo Macbethad mac Finnloech, cui successit in regnum annis 17." Marianus Scottus, Chronicon, s.a. 1062=1040, MGH SS 5: 557 (read "qui" for "cui")]. However, a marginal note under the year 1057 places the end of his reign at the Nativity of St. Mary (8 September) ["<Donchad regnavit annis 5, hoc est a missa sancti Andreae ad eandem et insuper ad nativitatem sanctae Mariae>" ibid., s.a. 1079=1057, MGH SS 5: 558]. Anderson suggested that the Nativity of St. Mary was a mistake for the Assumption of Mary (15 August) [ESSH 1: 357, n. 7-8]. The Irish annals confirm 1040 as the year of death ["Donncadh mac Crínan, aird-rí Alban immatura etate a suis occissus est." AT s.a. 1040; "Donnchadh mac Critain ard rí Alban inmatura aetate a suis occisus est." CS s.a. 1038=1040; "Donnchad m. Crinan, rí Alban, a suis oc[c]isus est." AU s.a. 1040; similarly ALC].
Place of Death: Bothirgouane, Bothgouanan.
Place of Burial: Iona.
[Regnal Lists "D", "F", "I", "K", KKES 268, 276, 284, 288; ESSH 1: 581]
Crínán, d. 1045, abbot of Dunkeld.
The Annals of Ulster, Annals of Tigernach, and Annals of Loch Cé all agree in giving the name of Duncan's father as Crínán, so the Crítán of Chronicon Scotorum is presumably a copying error [see above under date of death]. The regnal lists give Crínán's name in more corrupt forms [Crau, Trini, Crini, Kryn, see above], but call him abbot of Dunkeld, thus identifying him with the Crínán abbot of Dunkeld who died in 1045 [see the page of Crínán].
Bethóc, daughter of Máel Coluim (Malcolm)
II, king of Scotland.
As noted above Marianus Scottus states that Duncan was the son of a daughter of Malcolm II. His mother's name is given a Bethóc in some of the regnal lists [see above].
See the comments on her page for documentation.
Only Malcolm is stated to have been by Suthen. See the comments on her page.
Máel Coluim mac
Donnchada (Malcolm III "Canmore"), d. 13 November 1093, king of Scotland;
m. (1) Ingibjorg Finnsdóttir, d. 18 February before 1058?, widow of Þorfinnr Sigurðarson (Thorfinn), jarl of Orkney.
m. (2) 1070×1, St. Margaret, d. 1093, daughter of Eadweard "the Exile".
Domnall (Donald) Bán mac Donnchada,
king of Scotland, 1093-4, 1094-7.
At the death of Malcolm III in 1093, his brother Domnall (Donald) Bán became king but soon (in 1094) was deprived of the throne by his nephew, Malcolm's son Duncan II [ASC(E) s.a. 1093; "Qua mortua, Dufenaldum, regis Malcolmi fratrem, Scotti sibi in regem elegerunt, ... "; "... Dunechan ... patruum suum Dufenaldum de regno expulit, et in loco ejus regnavit." John Worc., s.a. 1093 (2: 32)]. Later in 1094, the Scots deprived Duncan of his life at Donald's instigation, and Donald became king again [ASC(E) s.a. 1094; "Interim Scotti regem suum Dunechan, et cum eo nonnullos, suasu et hortatu Dufenaldi, per insidias peremerunt, et illum sibi regem rursus constituerunt." John Worc., s.a. 1094 (2: 35) In 1097, with the support of king William II Rufus of England, Eadgar Ætheling led an army that drove out Domnall Bán and put Edgar (son of Malcolm III) on the throne of Scotland [ASC(E) s.a. 1097; "Post hæc clitonem Eadgarum ad Scottiam cum exercitu misit, ut in ea consobrinum suum Eadgarum, Malcolmi regis filium, patruo suo Dufenaldo, qui regnum invaserat, expulso, regem constitueret." John Worc., s.a. 1097 (2: 41); Sim. Durh., c. 179 (2: 228)]. It is said that he was captured and blinded, that he died at Rescobie (Roscolpin), and that he was buried at Dunkeld and translated to Iona ["Hic captus est ab Edgar Mac-Malcolm, coecatus est et mortuus in Roscolpin, sepultus in Dunkeldin hinc translata ossa in Iona." Regnal List "F", KKES 276; similarly in List "I", KKES 284 (except buried in Dunfermline)].
See the Commentary section for a possible additional child.
Possible additional son:
Máel Muire of Atholl.
According to the Orkneyinga Saga, earl Madach (Maddad) of Atholl [see CP 1: 304] was the son of Máel Muire (Melmar), brother of Malcolm Canmore ["Ek hefi nú gipta Margrètu Hákonar-dóttur Moddani jarli af Atiaktum, er göfgastr er allra Skota-höfðíngja at ættum. Melmari faðir hans var bróðir Melkólms Skota-konúngs, föður Davíðs, er nú er Skotakonúngr." Orkneyinga Saga, c. 66, Dasent-Vigfusson (1877-), 1: 66]. While the relationship is not impossible, the long chronology suggests caution. [See ESSH 2: 140, 182]
Duncan as king of the Cumbrians
According to the late fourteenth century account of John of Fordun, during the reign of Malcolm II, his grandson Duncan, who held Cumbria, refused homage for it to king Cnut. Cnut, after returning from his Roman pilgrimage, marched against Duncan with the intent of incorporating Cumbria into the English kingdom. However, a peace was arranged, under which Duncan was to hold Cumbria under Cnut [Fordun, iv, 41 (p. 183); Freeman (1870-9), 1: 449, 762]. Cnut's pilgrimage apparently took place in 1027 [see Freeman (1870-9), 1: 751-3], which would apparently place these events toward the end of Malcolm's reign. However, Fordun is not necessarily a reliable source, and it would be unwise to accept that Duncan was king of Cumbria based on Fordun alone. Thus, it is of interest that both William of Malmesbury and John of Worcester (as well as Simeon of Durham, following John) appear to confirm Duncan's status as king of Cumbria when they state that Siward of Northumbria, upon defeating Macbeth (apparently in 1054), enthroned Malcolm, filius regis Cumbrorum [Wm. Malmes., Gesta Regum, c. 196 (1: 237); John Worc., s.a. 1054 (1: 212); similarly in Sim. Durh., c. 140 (2: 171); see the page of Malcolm III for further details]. If this Malcolm, filius regis Cumbrorum, were the same person as Malcolm III, as has usually been assumed, then there would be a strong case for regarding his father Duncan as king of the Cumbrians at some point during his life. However, it has been suggested that Malcolm, filius regis Cumbrorum, was not Malcolm III of Scotland, but a king of Cumbria (Strathclyde) [Duncan (2002), 40-1; Broun (2004), 133-5, 138]. Since the name Malcolm had previously appeared in the Strathclyde dynasty, and since so little is known about Cumbrian history, the survival of that dynasty until the middle years of the eleventh century is a reasonable possibility. Thus, we lack convincing evidence that Duncan was a king of the Cumbrians, although it cannot be ruled out.
ALC = W. M. Hennessy, ed. & trans., Annals of Loch Cé (Rolls Series 54, London, 1871).
ASC = Charles Plummer, Two of the Saxon Chronicles parallel, based on the earlier edition by John Earle, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1892-9). ASC(A) indicates the "A" manuscript of the chronicle, and similarly for the other manuscripts.
AT = Whitley Stokes, ed. & trans., The Annals of Tigernach, Revue Celtique16 (1895), 374-419; 17 (1896), 6-33, 116-263, 337-420; 18 (1897), 9-59, 150-303, 374-91.
AU = Seán Mac Airt and Gearóid Mac Niocaill, The Annals of Ulster (Dublin, 1983).
Broun (2004) = Dauvit Broun, "The Welsh identity of the kingdom of Strathclyde c. 900 - c. 1200", The Innes Review 55 (2004): 111-180.
CP = The Complete Peerage.
CS = W. M. Hennessy, ed. & trans., Chronicum Scotorum (Rolls Series 46, London, 1866).
Dasent-Vigfusson (1887-) = George Webbe Dasent & Gudbrand Vigfusson, ed. & trans., Icelandic Sagas and other Historical Documents relating to the Settlements and Descents of the Northmen on the British Isles, 4 vols. (Rolls Series 88, London, 1887-).
Duncan (2002) = A. A. M. Duncan, The Kingship of the Scots, 842-1292 (Edinburgh, 2002).
ESSH = Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, 2 vols. (Edinburgh, 1922, reprinted Stamford, 1990). [Contains English translations of many of the primary records]
Fordun = William F. Skene, ed., Johannis de Fordun Chronica Gentis Scotorum (The Historians of Scotland, vol. 1, Edinburgh, 1871).
Freeman (1870-9) = Edward A. Freeman, The History of the Norman Conquest of England (5 vols. + index vol., Oxford, 1870-9).
John Worc. = Benjamin Thorpe, ed., Florentii Wigorniensis monachi chronicon ex chronicis, 2 vols., (London, 1848-9). (The work formerly attributed to Florence of Worcester is now generally attributed to John of Worcester.)
KKES = Marjorie Ogilvy Anderson, Kings and Kingship in Early Scotland (Edinburgh, Totowa, NJ, 1973).
MGH SS = Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores series.
Sim. Durh. = Thomas Arnold, ed., Symeonis Monachi Opera Omnia, 2 vols. (Rolls Series 75, 1882-5).
Wm. Malmes., Gesta Regum = William Stubbs, ed., Willelmi Malmesbiriensis Monachi De gestis regum Anglorum. libri quinque; Historiæ Novellæ libri tres, 2 vols. (Rolls series 90, 1887-9). [I lack easy access to the more recent edition of William of Malmesbury's work edited by Mynors, Thomson, & Winterbottom.]
Compiled by Stewart Baldwin
First uploaded 5 August 2001.
Major revision uploaded 20 June 2010 (expanded, much documentation added).
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