By: Scott RossPublished: August 14, 2022

Mac Bethad mac Findláig

Upon the death of King Malcolm II of Scotland a thing most passing strange occurred: his grandson, Duncan I, assumed the throne without an apparent controversy or bloodshed. This was no small trick in the Year of Our Lord 1040.

Records keeping, even for a king, was spotty business in the days before The Cloud, so there's some dispute as to his wife's name, with one camp saying her name was Suthen, while another camp claims he was married twice, first to Wonfrida and then, after her death, to Astrida. In any event, there is consensus around the fact that he had two sons, both future kings, Malcolm III and Duncan III.

Unfortunately for Duncan I, he was as hungry for power as he was inept in battle; he was constantly trying to expand his empire, but kept failing, which was making his people rather unhappy.

One day Duncan I set his sights on the region of Moray, near what is now Inverness, where his cousin Mac Bethad mac Findláig, aka Macbeth, was earl--things did not go well for the king, as Macbeth and his men killed Duncan I on August 14, 1040. Macbeth and his men then marched onto the Scottish capital of Scone (it's not clear if this is the origin of the dense, dry pastry so beloved in the British Isles), where Macbeth was crowned king.

Macbeth reigned over Scotland for 17 years and a day, until he was killed by Duncan I's son, Malcolm III, on August 15, 1057. Macbeth's stepson, Lulach, was then installed as king, but during his brief reign earned nicknames like "The Unfortunate" and "The Foolish," and so Malcolm capped him, as well, on March 17, 1058, whereupon Malcolm III was finally made king and vengeance for his father was fully realized.


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