Hail the Usurper!

Prelude, The End Of King Malcolm III's reign, 1093 AD

King Malcolm Canmore reigned as King Of Alba, King of Strathclyde, King of the Scots, and Chief of Scone from May 1058 to September 1093, when he was killed on the battlefield outside Alnwick, Northumbria, having offered battle to the host of Robert de Mowbray, the Earl of Northumbria.

Harald

King Malcolm III, 1035-1093 AD, reigned as King of Alba, 1058-1093

The son of King Duncan I, who was killed by the Mormaer of Moray, Macbeth, in a blacksmiths hut at the Battle of Pitgaveny, 1040, the young chieftain Prince Malcolm Canmore claimed the crown of Alba from 1054-1057, dethroning both Macbeth and his step-son & heir Lulach to gain the crown of Alba in 1058.

He was the victor or armies had won in his name in five major battles during his lifetime & reign, more than any of the other Kings of Alba before him. These battles included Dunsinane Hill in 1054, as well as the Battle of Forteviot, and the Storming of Scone, two engagements out of a trilogy battles which his brother had fought and won during the Usurpation, and the Battle of Lumphanan, where Macbeth met his death on the spears of Malcolms’ housecarls in 1057 AD. In the year 1058, Malcolm won the crown when he murdered King Lulach as they parleyed inside the kings tent before the Battle of Essie, a massacre which broke the military might of Moray for almost twenty years.

Finally, at the Battle of Tweedsmuir in 1071, Malcolm and his host, despite being encumbered by the overwhelming amounts of loot which they took pillaging Yorkshire and the Humber in Nothumbria, defeated the vast host of the current Jarl of Northumbria, Gospatric. Shattering the Northumbrian host despite a two to one advantage in favor of his enemy, the army of King Malcolm withdrew back across the border safely days later. King Malcolm won another great but oft foregotten victory at the Battle of Lannraig in 1073, when he defeated the Orkneymen of Einar the son Thorfinn the Mighty, driving them from Strathclyde.

King malcolm on the throne  1060

King Malcom Canmore on his throne in the year 1060 AD

For his failures, Jarl Gospatric, a grandson of Crínán the Mormaer of Atholl, was executed. Known amongst the people of Northumbria and the monks of the Kingdoms as the Servant of Saint Patrick, Gospatric was publicly beheaded at York in 1072 on the order of King William for his failures as Jarl of Northumbria and Guardian of the North, and for his great defeat at Tweedsmuir.

Gospatric

Gospatric, Jarl of Northumbria, 1067-1069 & 1070-1072

Years of border skirmishes & raids followed with King Malcolm ending the ongoing conflict in 1075, paying homage to King William and giving his second son Prince Duncan to him as a ward. Malcolm would spend his later reign consolidating power in Alba, naming Óengus the Mormaer of Moray, King of Moray in 1080, attempting to reconcile the Houses of Macbeth and Canmore, sworn enemies since King Duncan I’s death at the hands of Macbeth in 1040.

King Malcolm also became an ally of Olaf I, known as Olaf the Handbreaker, King of Norway and the Western Isles in 1083, attempting to counter the growing power of King William the Conqueror. Upon his death, Malcolm sensed that his heir, William Rufus would be a much weaker willed opponent than his ambitious father had been. He was most certainly influenced by the reports of his well informed second son, Prince Duncan, who had spent some ten years in Norman England as a young man. As early as 1091, Northumbrian scouts sent reports south of lowland raiders crossing the border to plunder the Northumbrian countryside. Also, many of his thanes were unsatisfied with the long period of peace between Alba and Northumbria, with many yearning for battles, plunder, and glory, thus influencing King Maclolm’s own greed.

War for Northumbria, 1093 AD

King Malcolm planned for and instigated a great war to finally take Northumbria from the King of England and the Earl of Northumbria, individuals who he felt were greedy and weak, having only just consolidated power over the whole of England in the year 1090. Two hosts, a total of five thousand Scottish spears, were led into Northumbria by the King and his son in August of 1093. They were opposed by four thousand Northumbrians, lead predominately by a number of Norman knights and former Saxon jarls, men who’s fathers and grandfathers had been descendants of Jarl Uthred the Bold and Jarl Eadwulf the Cuttlefish.

This war became known as the War for Northumbria, beginning with King Malcolm’s marshaling of his armies near Dundurn in August 1093. Joined by his eldest son Prince Malcolm, Thane of Dùn Dèagh, their armies marched into Strathclyde and over the Cheviot Hills into Northumbria. Not soon after his thanes skirmished with the Northumbrian outriders of Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria. The two armies of King Malcolm and his eldest son the Thane of Dùn Dèagh, pillaged and burned their way to the heart of Northumbria into York. They killed any fighting man or beast of burden they encountered, burning many farms, keeps, and Norman properties on their way south.

Earl robert de mowbray

Earl of Northumbria & Watcher in the North, Sir Robert de Mowbray

In September the armies of Alba encamped near the keep in Alnwick, the home and now the seat of Northumbrian power under Earl Robert. Outside the walls of Alnwick a great battle ensued, many spears were broken and thane and knight fell all the same. No less than five thousand were slain that day. Prince Malcolm the Thane of Dùn Dèagh will forever be remembered for fighting valiantly in the vanguard of his army, killing five named Northumbrian knights before he was slain by The Hound of Ulster. The consequences of the deployment of the Norman Knight at Alnwick were particularly brutal. Heavily armored, these men of nobility rode charged on great French war-steads through the battle lines of the Scotsmen and hundreds of brave Men of Alba were simply trampled by the massive horses, the supposedly noble men atop them slaying the retreating Scots by driving spears through any who broke & ran.

Alnwick de mowbrays normans

Earl Robert de Mowbray’s knights charge forth at the Battle of Alnwick

In the final skirmish King Malcolm’s vanguard was smashed, his son and heir Malcolm the Thane of Dùn Dèagh slain in single combat by Ivar Thorgeir, the Hound of Ulster. King Malcolm and his retainers continued the fight, unsure of the Prince’s death. Seeing the banner of de Mowbray in the field King Malcolm charged his standard, killing many Northumbrians in the charge but loosing many of his retainers and kinsmen in the process.

King Malcolm reached the standard but received a mortal wound in the neck from Earl Robert’s steward as he raised his spear at the Earl. Falling from his horse badly wounded the King fought with his sword until his housecarls were all slain and he expired on the field from many wounds ending the Battle of Alnwick. In the wake of the death of King Malcolm III and his son Prince Malcolm, what remained of their army bore their bodies back to Alba retreating with 1000 men back into Strathclyde. As word of the kings’ death reached Scone first, Donald the Fair, King Malcolm’s brother, was named King of Alba, as Donald III in Scone despite Prince Duncan’s protestations from Glamis.

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