Duncan I of Scotland

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Donnchad (I) mac Crínáin
King of Scots
Reign 1034–1040
Born  ?
Scotland
Died 15 August, 1040
Pitgaveny, near Elgin
Buried Iona ?
Consort Suthen
Father Crínán of Dunkeld
Mother Bethóc

Donnchad mac Crínáin (Anglicised Duncan) (died 15 August, 1040) was king of Alba. He was son of Crínán, hereditary lay abbot of Dunkeld, and Bethóc, daughter of king Máel Coluim mac Cináeda.

Unlike the "King Duncan" of Shakespeare's Macbeth, the historical Donnchad appears to have been a young man. He followed his grandfather Máel Coluim as king after the latter's death on 25 November, 1034, without apparent opposition. He may have been Máel Coluim's acknowledged successor or tánaise as the succession appears to have been uneventful.<ref>Duncan, Kingship of the Scots, p. 33.</ref> Earlier histories, following John of Fordun, supposed that Donnchad had been king of Strathclyde in his grandfather's lifetime, ruling the former Kingdom of Strathclyde as an appanage. Modern historians discount this idea.<ref>Duncan, Kingship of the Scots, p. 40.</ref>

Another claim by Fordun, that Donnchad married a sister of Earl Siward of Northumbria, appears to be equally unreliable. An earlier source, a variant of the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba (CK-I), gives Donnchad's wife the Gaelic name Suthen.<ref>Duncan, Kingship of the Scots, p. 37.</ref> Whatever his wife's name may have been, Donnchad had at least two sons. The eldest, Máel Coluim mac Donnchada was king from 1057 to 1093, the second Domnall Bán was king afterwards. Máel Muire of Atholl is a possible third son of Donnchad, although this is uncertain.<ref>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 Domnall Bán's granddaughter Hextilda.</ref>

The early period of Donnchad's reign was apparently uneventful, perhaps a consequence of his youth. Mac Bethad mac Findláich is recorded as his dux, literally duke, but in the context — "dukes of Francia" had lately replaced Carolingian kings of the Franks and the over-mighty Godwin of Wessex was called a dux — this suggests that Mac Bethad was the power behind the throne.<ref>Duncan, Kingship of the Scots, pp. 33–34.</ref>

In 1039, Donnchad led a large Scots army south to besiege Durham, but the expedition ended in disaster. Donnchad survived, but the following year he led an army north into Moray, traditionally seen as Mac Bethad's domain. There he was killed, at Pitgaveny near Elgin, by his own men led by Mac Bethad, probably on 15 August, 1040.<ref>Duncan, Kingship of the Scots, p. 34; the date is from Marianus Scotus and the killing is recorded by the Annals of Tigernach.</ref>

[edit] Depictions in fiction

He is depicted as an elderly King in Macbeth by William Shakespeare. There he is killed in his sleep by Macbeth.

He is featured in the Walt Disney animated television series Gargoyles. He was the second person to use the Hunter persona.

[edit] Notes

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[edit] References

Preceded by:
Máel Coluim
King of Scots
1034–1040
Succeeded by:
Mac Bethad
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