CHAPTER III. EARLY WARS OF RACES

In a work of this scope, it is impossible to describe all the wars between the petty kingdoms peopled by races of various languages, which occupied Scotland.  In 603, in the wild moors at Degsastane, between the Liddel burn and the passes of the Upper Tyne, the English Aethelfrith of Deira, with an army of the still pagan ancestors of the Borderers, utterly defeated Aidan, King of Argyll, with the Christian converted Scots.  Henceforth, for more than a century, the English between Forth and Humber feared neither Scot of the west nor Pict of the north.

On the death of Aethelfrith (617), the Christian west and north exercised their influences; one of Aethelfrith’s exiled sons married a Pictish princess, and became father of a Pictish king, another, Oswald, was baptised at Iona; and the new king of the northern English of Lothian, Edwin, was converted by Paullinus (627), and held Edinburgh as his capital.  Later, after an age of war and ruin, Oswald, the convert of Iona, restored Christianity in northern England; and, after his fall, his brother, Oswiu, consolidated the north English.  In 685 Oswiu’s son Egfrith crossed the Forth and invaded Pictland with a Northumbrian army, but was routed with great loss, and was slain at Nectan’s Mere, in Forfarshire.  Thenceforth, till 761, the Picts were dominant, as against Scots and north English, Angus MacFergus being then their leader (731-761).

Now the invaders and settlers from Scandinavia, the Northmen on the west coast, ravaged the Christian Scots of the west, and burned Iona: finally, in 844-860, Kenneth MacAlpine of Kintyre, a Scot of Dalriada on the paternal, a Pict on the mother’s side, defeated the Picts and obtained their throne.  By Pictish law the crown descended in the maternal line, which probably facilitated the coronation of Kenneth.  To the Scots and “to all Europe” he was a Scot; to the Picts, as son of a royal Pictish mother, he was a Pict.  With him, at all events, Scots and Picts were interfused, and there began the Scottish dynasty, supplanting the Pictish, though it is only in popular tales that the Picts were exterminated.

Owing to pressure from the Northmen sea-rovers in the west, the capital and the seat of the chief bishop, under Kenneth MacAlpine (844-860), were moved eastwards from Iona to Scone, near Perth, and after an interval at Dunkeld, to St Andrews in Fife.

The line of Kenneth MacAlpine, though disturbed by quarrels over the succession, and by Northmen in the west, north, and east, none the less in some way “held a good grip o’ the gear” against Vikings, English of Lothian, and Welsh of Strathclyde.  In consequence of a marriage with a Welsh princess of Strathclyde, or Cumberland, a Scottish prince, Donald, brother of Constantine II., became king of that realm (908), and his branch of the family of MacAlpin held Cumbria for a century.
ENGLISH CLAIMS OVER SCOTLAND.

In 924 the first claim by an English king, Edward, to the over-lordship of Scotland appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.  The entry contains a manifest error, and the topic causes war between modern historians, English and Scottish.  In fact, there are several such entries of Scottish acceptance of English suzerainty under Constantine II., and later, but they all end in the statement, “this held not long.”  The “submission” of Malcolm I. to Edmund (945) is not a submission but an alliance; the old English word for “fellow-worker,” or “ally,” designates Malcolm as fellow-worker with Edward of England.

This word (midwyrhta) was translated fidelis (one who gives fealty) in the Latin of English chroniclers two centuries later, but Malcolm I. held Cumberland as an ally, not as a subject prince of England.  In 1092 an English chronicle represents Malcolm III. as holding Cumberland “by conquest.”

The main fact is that out of these and similar dim transactions arose the claims of Edward I. to the over-lordship of Scotland,—claims that were urged by Queen Elizabeth’s minister, Cecil, in 1568, and were boldly denied by Maitland of Lethington.  From these misty pretensions came the centuries of war that made the hardy character of the folk of Scotland. {10}


THE SCOTTISH ACQUISITION OF LOTHIAN.

We cannot pretend within our scope to follow chronologically “the fightings and flockings of kites and crows,” in “a wolf-age, a war-age,” when the Northmen from all Scandinavian lands, and the Danes, who had acquired much of Ireland, were flying at the throat of England and hanging on the flanks of Scotland; while the Britons of Strathclyde struck in, and the Scottish kings again and again raided or sought to occupy the fertile region of Lothian between Forth and Tweed.  If the dynasty of MacAlpin could win rich Lothian, with its English-speaking folk, they were “made men,” they held the granary of the North.  By degrees and by methods not clearly defined they did win the Castle of the Maidens, the acropolis of Dunedin, Edinburgh; and fifty years later, in some way, apparently by the sword, at the battle of Carham (1018), in which a Scottish king of Cumberland fought by his side, Malcolm II. took possession of Lothian, the whole south-east region, by this time entirely anglified, and this was the greatest step in the making of Scotland.  The Celtic dynasty now held the most fertile district between Forth and Tweed, a district already English in blood and speech, the centre and focus of the English civilisation accepted by the Celtic kings.  Under this Malcolm, too, his grandson, Duncan, became ruler of Strathclyde—that is, practically, of Cumberland.

Malcolm is said to have been murdered at haunted Glamis, in Forfarshire, in 1034; the room where he died is pointed out by legend in the ancient castle.  His rightful heir, by the strange system of the Scots, should have been, not his own grandson, Duncan, but the grandson of Kenneth III.  The rule was that the crown went alternately to a descendant of the House of Constantine (863-877), son of Kenneth MacAlpine, and to a descendant of Constantine’s brother, Aodh (877-888).  These alternations went on till the crowning of Malcolm II. (1005-1034), and then ceased, for Malcolm II. had slain the unnamed male heir of the House of Aodh, a son of Boedhe, in order to open the succession to his own grandson, “the gracious Duncan.”  Boedhe had left a daughter, Gruach; she had by the Mormaor, or under-king of the province of Murray, a son, Lulach.  On the death of the Mormaor she married Macbeth, and when Macbeth slew Duncan (1040), he was removing a usurper—as he understood it—and he ruled in the name of his stepson, Lulach.  The power of Duncan had been weakened by repeated defeats at the hands of the Northmen under Thorfinn.  In 1057 Macbeth was slain in battle at Lumphanan, in Aberdeenshire, and Malcolm Canmore, son of Duncan, after returning from England, whither he had fled from Macbeth, succeeded to the throne.  But he and his descendants for long were opposed by the House of Murray, descendants of Lulach, who himself had died in 1058.

The world will always believe Shakespeare’s version of these events, and suppose the gracious Duncan to have been a venerable old man, and Macbeth an ambitious Thane, with a bloodthirsty wife, he himself being urged on by the predictions of witches.  He was, in fact, Mormaor of Murray, and upheld the claims of his stepson Lulach, who was son of a daughter of the wrongfully extruded House of Aodh.

Malcolm Canmore, Duncan’s grandson, on the other hand, represented the European custom of direct lineal succession against the ancient Scots’ mode.

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