The Rise of the Medieval World, 500-1300: A Biographical Dictionary

By Jana K. Schulman | Go to book overview

M

MACBETH OF SCOTLAND(R. 1040–1057).Mormaer (ruler) of the Scottish province of Moray, Macbeth seized the throne of Scotland from Duncan, son of Malcolm II Mackennath, in 1040 and ruled until 1057.

Despite Shakespeare’s treatment of Macbeth, it is clear that most near-contemporary chroniclers considered him the rightful king whose seizure of the throne by force was not unusual in Scottish political practice. He was a representative of a junior branch of the Scottish royal house (the “line of Loarn” as opposed to the “line of Fergus,” the two sons of Erc, the traditional ancestor of the Dalriadan royal house) and took the throne from Duncan after killing him in battle. He then ruled strongly for nearly fifteen years before being driven from the throne in turn by Duncan’s son Malcolm III Canmore, who in 1054 defeated him in battle at Dunsinnan Hill with the military assistance of *Edward the Confessor. He was finally killed at Lumphanan on 15 August 1057.

Macbeth was one of three strong kings who dominated eleventh-century Scotland, along with Malcolm II Mackennath (r. 1005–1034) and Malcolm Canmore (r. 1057–1093). All three helped consolidate Gaelic-Pictish Scotland by establishing Scotland’s political heartland in the area between Perth and Edinburgh in the face of Scandinavian and English interference and gradually moving toward a system of royal succession in which eldest sons inherited from fathers.

Bibliography: G.W.S. Barrow, Kingship and Unity: Scotland 1000–1306, 1981.

David Day

MAGNÚS HÁKONARSON(1238–1280, R. 1263–1280). King of Norway, he earned for himself the nickname “Law-Amender” because of his interest in revising the laws of his country.

Magnús, born in 1238, was the third son of King *Hákon Hákonarson. After his surviving brother died in 1257, Magnús was acclaimed king. He received

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