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Marriage to Ingiborg

One of Malcolm’s earliest actions as king was to travel to the court of Edward the Confessor in 1059 to arrange a marriage with Edward’s kinswoman Margaret, who had arrived in England two years before from Hungary. If a marriage agreement was made in 1059, it was not kept, and this may explain the Scots invasion of Northumbria in 1061 when Lindisfarne was plundered. Equally, Malcolm’s raids in Northumbria may have been related to the disputed “Kingdom of the Cumbrians”, reestablished by Earl Siward in 1054, which was under Malcolm’s control by 1070.

The Orkneyinga saga reports that Malcolm III married the widow of Thorfinn Sigurdsson, Ingibiorg, a daughter of Finn Arnesson. Although Ingibiorg is generally assumed to have died shortly before 1070, it is possible that she died much earlier, around 1058. The Orkneyinga Saga records that Malcolm and Ingibiorg had a son, Duncan II (Donnchad mac Maíl Coluim), who was later king. Some Medieval commentators, following William of Malmesbury, claimed that Duncan was illegitimate, but this claim is propaganda reflecting the need of Malcolm’s descendants by Margaret to undermine the claims of Duncan’s descendants, the Meic Uilleim. Malcolm’s son Domnall, whose death is reported in 1085, is not mentioned by the author of the Orkneyinga Saga. He is assumed to have been born to Ingibiorg.

Malcolm’s marriage to Ingibiorg secured him peace in the north and west. The Heimskringla tells that her father Finn had been an adviser to Harald Hardraade and, after falling out with Harald, was then made an Earl by Sweyn Estridsson, King of Denmark, which may have been another recommendation for the match. Malcolm enjoyed a peaceful relationship with the Earldom of Orkney, ruled jointly by his stepsons, Paul and Erlend Thorfinnsson. The Orkneyinga Saga reports strife with Norway but this is probably misplaced as it associates this with Magnus Barefoot, who became king of Norway only in 1093, the year of Malcolm’s death.

Marriage to Margaret

Although he had given sanctuary to Tostig Godwinson when the Northumbrians drove him out, Malcolm was not directly involved in the ill-fated invasion of England by Harald Hardraade and Tostig in 1066, which ended in defeat and death at the battle of Stamford Bridge. In 1068, he granted asylum to a group of English exiles fleeing from William of Normandy, among them Agatha, widow of Edward the Confessor’s nephew Edward the Exile, and her children: Edgar Ætheling and his sisters Margaret and Cristina. They were accompanied by Gospatric, Earl of Northumbria. The exiles were disappointed, however, if they had expected immediate assistance from the Scots.

In 1069 the exiles returned to England, to join a spreading revolt in the north. Even though Gospatric and Siward’s son Waltheof submitted by the end of the year, the arrival of a Danish army under Sweyn Estridsson seemed to ensure that William’s position remained weak. Malcolm decided on war, and took his army south into Cumbria and across the Pennines, wasting Teesdale and Cleveland then marching north, loaded with loot, to Wearmouth.

There Malcolm met Edgar and his family, who were invited to return with him, but did not. As Sweyn had by now been bought off with a large Danegeld, Malcolm took his army home. In reprisal, William sent Gospatric to raid Scotland through Cumbria. In return, the Scots fleet raided the Northumbrian coast where Gospatric’s possessions were concentrated.

Late in the year, perhaps shipwrecked on their way to a European exile, Edgar and his family again arrived in Scotland, this time to remain. By the end of 1070, Malcolm had married Edgar’s sister Margaret (later known as Saint Margaret).

The naming of their children represented a break with the traditional Scots regal names such as Malcolm, Cináed and Áed. The point of naming Margaret’s sons—Edward after her father Edward the Exile, Edmund for her grandfather Edmund Ironside, Ethelred for her great-grandfather Ethelred the Unready and Edgar for her great-great-grandfather Edgar and her brother, briefly the elected king, Edgar Ætheling—was unlikely to be missed in England, where William of Normandy’s grasp on power was far from secure.

Whether the adoption of the classical Alexander for the future Alexander I of Scotland (either for Pope Alexander II or for Alexander the Great) and the biblical David for the future David I of Scotland represented a recognition that William of Normandy would not be easily removed, or was due to the repetition of Anglo-Saxon royal name—another Edmund had preceded Edgar—is not known. Margaret also gave Malcolm two daughters, Edith, who married Henry I of England, and Mary, who married Eustace III of Boulogne.

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