Malcolm III


Malcolm III

Malcolm III was born in 1031 to Duncan I. He was also known as Malcolm Canmore, Canmore was the anglicised form of the Gaelic which meant "big head" or "great chief". He was just nine years old when his father was murdered by his uncle Macbeth and he sought refuge in Northumbria in England.

Malcolm's path to the throne was a long and bloody one and he is credited with establishing the House of Dunkeld which was to rule Scotland for the next two hundred and fifty years.

In 1053 Malcolm invaded Scotland initially with support from King Edward the Confessor of England. Once he arrived many of the southern nobles of Scotland joined his cause and Macbeth was driven north. It wasn´t until 1057 that Macbeth was defeated and killed at the Battle of Lumphanan and even after his death many supported his son Lulach as the new king. In 1058 Malcolm killed Lulach too and was finally able to crown himself king without serious challenge.

Having secured the throne Malcolm soon revealed his ambitious plans to expand his new kingdom by repeatedly invading the north of England. William I had taken the throne of England in 1066 and spent the next few years trying to consolidate his power, Malcolm was not his only problem.

Malcolm III and Margaret

Malcolm had three children with his first wife, Ingibjorg but she must have died because in 1070 he married Margaret, the great-niece of Edward the Confessor. She was part of the dispossessed Anglo-Saxon line forced into hiding by William I. She provided Malcolm with a further eight children and exerted a new influence on the nation which led to her later canonisation.

As William's power became more secure Malcolm was repelled and in 1072 he was forced to sign the Treaty of Abernethy sending his eldest son Duncan south as a hostage. In 1079 Malcolm invaded Northumbria again without much success and Scotland was in turn invaded by a son of William the Conqueror, Malcolm capitulated again.

Malcolm clearly never gave up his hope of taking Northumbria because a full ten years later he was at it again. In 1091 with the English King William II abroad Malcolm invaded once more and returned north with loads of stolen treasure. William II invaded Scotland and forced another peace on him. This time Malcolm waited just two years before invading again in 1093 at the age of sixty-two, he was killed in battle. His wife Margaret died just a few days after hearing of Malcolm's death.

Malcolm brought a new English influence into Scotland and through Margaret expanded the growing religious network. His invasions were ultimately unsuccessful and he always withdrew and deferred to the English king when caught out however we don't know how profitable the raids were for him and this could have been his real motivation. In any case this new English influence was rejected after his death with the accession of Donald III to the throne and the banishment of his sons.