The Unlicensed Turpitude of Malcolm III

Malcolm III in a Particularly Freudian Pose

Being a Scot has never been easy. Even now, they are plagued with alcohol problems, heroin addiction, soccer riots and haggis. In the Middle Ages, it was even worse: Enemies on three sides, internal power struggles, civil war and, of course, haggis. Even if haggis weren’t part of the equation, living in a nation that vacillates between being subject to another and declaring independence causing bloody wars, famine and disease is no picnic…for anyone who doesn’t like haggis, anyway. Representative of this zeitgeist that was the microcosm of the volksgeist of Scotland’s ethos was Malcolm III.

Malcolm the Third? Wasn’t he mentioned at the end of Macbeth?”, eagerly asked no one ever. But, yes, it is exactly the same Malcolm as mentioned in Macbeth. Of course, a LOT of dramatic license was used by Mr. Shakespeare because the truth seldom splits neatly into five acts; and, the only famous people ever to talk in couplets were Ogden Nash and Mohammad Ali. So, let us explore the life and times of Malcolm the Third as if we gave a damn, shall we?

Malcolm was born to the Scottish king Duncan the First in March of 1031. Malcolm’s mother was named “Suthen” and was either the niece or the sister of the Earl of Northumbria. You’d think that Scottish historians would know the difference between a niece and a sister but, as I said before, alcohol problems. Now, everyone is good at something and I am sure Duncan had many skills to make up for the fact that he was just a TERRIBLE king. Shakespeare portrays the man as an elderly king, slain by Macbeth at the behest of his oh so awful wife. Problem is, Duncan didn’t quite live long enough to be elderly. He died at forty, probably in battle with Macbeth’s forces or maybe during a soccer riot and possibly while addicted to heroin…

For Malcolm, like the bedroom of a three year old who managed to find a Sharpie, the handwriting was on the wall. He was sent into exile for his own protection as Macbeth settled into his position as king. Hoping to make getting killed by Macbeth a family tradition, Malcolm’s grandfather raised an army and was himself slain in battle with Macbeth’s forces. Eventually, the Earl of Northumbria got out of his bathrobe and started a war with Scotland. And, even more eventually, Macbeth was slain… maybe by Malcolm himself… or maybe he died from eating bad veal. Historians don’t exactly know because they are hopeless…

Malcolm and Ingibiorg Relaxing in the Matrix

With Macbeth deader than a haggis at a soccer riot, Malcolm was made king of all the parts of Scotland that Scandinavians didn’t control. And, with a hot Norwegian wife who just happened to be related to two Norwegian kings (Olaf and Harald Hadraade), Malcolm was in a pretty good position. His first wife, Ingibiorg Finnsdottir, died in 1070… or maybe 1058… she was kind of an introvert so no one really checked on her for a while. He later married Margaret, the daughter of Edward the Exile who just happened to dock in Scotland to wait out a storm. Margaret was a devout and beautiful woman and Malcolm fell for her like a ton of haggis. They were married in 1070.

Note that, while Malcolm was having his marital bliss, England was changing hands from Anglo-saxon to Norman control after the invasion by William the Conqueror. Frankly, I can’t see why anyone would go into battle against someone with the sobriquet of “the conqueror”, but some folks never learn. Anyway, by 1091, Malcolm’s forces were in England trying to move the first down marker from the river of Tweed to the river of Tees. Malcolm was successful in that he didn’t trip and bite his tongue trying to do it; but, militarily it was a disaster…

Margaret, Just Goofing Around for the Painter…

Malcolm III died during the Battle of Alnwick in Northumberland, in 1093, never having achieved anything but killing Macbeth, who would’ve died anyway given enough time. He did have his marriages to women who were pretty hot for their time… in that neither had an eye-patch or a hook for a hand. His wife Margaret, who would later become Saint Margaret, died three days after hearing the news of her husband’s death. Her body would later be dispersed as holy relics. Mary, Queen of Scots, actually owned Margaret’s head. What she did with it, I will leave to your imagination.



Other nonsense in this vain:  Galla PlacidiaGregory the Great