On This Day, 1093: Malcolm III of Scotland is Killed in Battle

Malcolm III

On this day in 1093, King Malcolm III of Scotland was killed during an ill-fated raid in Northumberland.

Reigning from the 17th March 1058 until his death, Malcolm had spent most of his upbringing in the North of England – having taken refuge there after the murder of his father Duncan I by Macbeth and Thorfinn Sigurdsson, the Earl of Orkney.

In 1053, intent on seizing his birth right, Malcolm returned to Scotland at the head of a great host.

King Edward the Confessor of England offered his personal support for the action, and upon reaching the Lothian region Malcolm found that local nobles were keen to support his claim.

A protracted conflict between Malcolm and King Macbeth ensued which saw the former secure victory at the famous Battle of Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire.

With Macbeth lying dead on the battlefield, one might’ve assumed Malcolm’s route to kingship would be swift. It was anything but.

Macbeth’s step son and surviving heir, Lulach, managed to evade pursuit for several years, and was finally caught and killed in March of 1058.

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In the years that followed, Malcolm III sired a number of children with his first wife, Ingibjorg, the daughter of the late Thorfinn Sigurdsson.

Following Ingibjorg’s death in around 1069, Malcolm went on to marry the famed Margaret of Wessex.

Margaret’s coronation as Queen Consort prompted a wave of changes across the Kingdom of Scotland, and she is regarded as one of the most influential women in the nation’s history.

A staunch proponent of Roman Catholic Church, she played a key role in spreading the continental orthodoxy throughout Scotland, inviting Benedictine monks to establish an abbey in the town of Dunfermline.

This marked the beginning of the decline of Celtic Church traditions in Scotland and fostered closer alignment between the kingdom and the holy church in Rome.

Similarly, Margaret’s arrival also marked the introduction of the Anglo-Saxon language, commonly referred to as ‘Old English’, in Scottish courtly affairs. Gaelic was, quite frankly, out of favour in the new feudal Scotland.

Margaret bore Malcolm eight children in total. Edward, Edmund, Ethelred, Edgar, Alexander, David, Edith and Mary.

Political Upheaval

Less than a decade into Malcolm’s reign, the political fabric of 11th century Britain was utterly torn to pieces.

The Norman conquest in 1066 prompted an influx of continental nobility to England and caused significant political and cultural upheaval across the British Isles.

Malcolm’s support for his brother-in-law, Edgar the Atheling, saw a number of Scottish incursions into the North of England. Multiple attempts to seat Edgar on the English throne failed, however, and led to the signing of the Treaty of Abernethy in 1072.

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15 years later, upon the death of William I in 1087, Malcolm III renewed hostilities with the English crown. And was at the First Battle of Alnwick in 1093 where he met a ghastly demise.

Whilst besieging Alnwick, Malcolm’s host was caught by surprise by an English force led by Robert de Mowbray, the Earl of Northumbria.

Vicious fighting ensued between English and Scottish troops, and Malcolm was killed in the melee along with his son, Prince Edward.

The death of Malcolm and Edward devastated Queen Margaret, who died just three days later at Edinburgh Castle.

He was succeeded by his brother, Donald III and his second son to Margaret, Prince Edmund, in a joint rule arrangement.

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