Malcolm III of Scotland

King Malcolm III of Scotland
King of Scots
Reign 10581093
Born c. 1031
Died November 13, 1093
Alnwick, Northumberland, England
Buried Dunfermline Abbey, Fife
Married St Margaret of Scotland
Parents Duncan I of Scotland

Malcolm III (Scottish Gaelic: Máel Coluim mac Donnchada), (1031November 13, 1093), also known as Cenn Mór (anglicised as Canmore, hence Malcolm Canmore) meaning Great Head in the Gaelic language, was King of Scots. Malcolm is an anglicisation derived from a Latin form, Malcolmus. The name Máel Coluim means Servant of Columba, after the devotional pattern of many medieval Scottish names (c/f Máel Ísu' (Malise), servant of Jesus or Gilla Coluim, also servant of Columba). He was the eldest son of King Duncan I.

In 1040 his father was killed in battle by his cousin Macbeth who became the new king. Malcolm found refuge in the Kingdom of England under the protection of King Harthacanute of Denmark and England. In 1042 Harthacanute died and was succeeded to the throne of England by his half-brother King Edward the Confessor. In 1053 Edward finally agreed to help Malcolm gain the throne of Scotland by offering him an army. Malcolm's invasion of Scotland started in the same year. Malcolm found support from the nobles of southern Scotland. He managed to kill first Macbeth in 1057 and then his stepson Lulach in 1058. He was crowned at Scone Abbey, Perth and Kinross, on April 25, 1058.

In the year, 1061, Malcolm met with Norman Nobels at Forfar where the king made it known to all the Nobels in his court that they were to adopt sir names based on their territorial lands and possessions. It was at this conference where King Malcolm adoped his own sir name of "Canmore" meaning "Great Head" This name fit his persona perfectly as Malcolm was recognized by his "Lion Like" facial features, and known to have "Lion Like" prowness in the field. Hense, in 1061, "The Rampant Lion" of Scotland was created and painted on his royal shield.

The Rampant Lion is remembered by the Sinister Chief side of the Royal arms of England. He is remembered on the Royal Standard of Scotland. He is remembered as the common ancestor of the Royal English House shares with the Royal House of the Scots.

He married Ingibjorg, widow (or perhaps daughter) of the Earl of Orkney, in about 1065 and they had three sons, who were:

  1. King Duncan (Donnchad)
  2. Donald (Domnall) (d.1085)
  3. Malcolm (Máel Coluim) (d. after 1094).

Ingibjörg was dead by 1070, when he wed Margaret.

His (second) marriage to Saint Margaret, Edgar Ætheling's sister, was an obvious anti-Norman gesture, as Margaret and her brother had fled from William the Conqueror in the aftermath of a revolt against the Norman regime. Margaret herself promoted the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland throughout Malcolm's reign. Christianity had long existed in Scotland, but varied from Roman Catholic practice in some respects. Malcolm had several sons by Margaret - these became known as the Margaretsons. Malcolm and Margaret's children were:

  1. Prince Edward (Etbard) of Scotland, killed 1093.
  2. Edmund of Scotland (Etmond)
  3. Ethelred of Scotland, abbot of Dunkeld.
  4. King Edgar of Scotland (Etgair)
  5. King Alexander I of Scotland (Alaxandair)
  6. King David I of Scotland (Dabíd)
  7. Edith of Scotland, also called Matilda, married King Henry I of England
  8. Mary of Scotland, married Eustace III of Boulogne

Malcolm continued his foreign policy by waging wars against the Norman kings of England after 1066. However, in 1072 he was forced to give an oath of submission to William I of England. It is notable that while his first wife Ingibjorg's sons all bore Gaelic names, half of Margaret's bore Anglo-Saxon/English names and the other half standard continental names. At the time this was noted with displeasure amongst many in the Scottish court and amongst the public.

War with William II of England in 1093 only led to the loss of Scottish territory to England. Malcolm died on November of the same year in an ambush at Alnwick during a battle against William's army. His eldest son by Margaret, Edward, also died in that ambush. Malcolm was succeeded by his brother Donald.

Malcolm established the Dunkeld dynasty which ruled Scotland from 1058 until 1286. Four of his sons (Duncan, Edgar, Alexander, and David) became kings of Scotland, whilst a fifth (Edmund) ruled as co-ruler of Scotland with his uncle Donald.

Depictions in fiction

He is featured in the Walt Disney animated television series Gargoyles under the name "Canmore". He was the third person to use the Hunter persona. His bloodline through his illigitimate son Donald continued to use the Hunter identity through the ages, seeking out gargoyles - specifically the immortal Demona.


  • Orkneyinga Saga
  • Anderson, Alan. Early Sources of Scottish History, 2 vols.

Preceded by:
King of Scots
Succeeded by:
Donald III and Edmund I

Monarchs of Scotland (Alba)
Traditional Kings of Picts: (Legendary Kings) | Drest of the 100 Battles | Talorc I | Nechtan I | Drest II | Galan | Drest III | Drest IV | Gartnait I | Cailtram | Talorc II | Drest V | Galam Cennalath | Bruide I | Gartnait II | Nechtan II | Cinioch | Gartnait III | Bruide II | Talorc III | Talorgan I | Gartnait IV | Drest VI | Bruide III | Taran | Bruide IV | Nechtan IV | Drest VII | Alpín I | Óengus I | Bruide V | Cináed II | Alpín II | Talorgan II | Drest VIII | Conall | Caustantín | Óengus II | Drest IX | Eogán | Ferat | Bruide VI | Cináed II | Bruide VII | Drest X
Traditional Kings of Scots: Cináed I | Domnall I | Causantín I | Áed | Eochaid | Giric | Domnall II | Causantín II | Máel Coluim I | Idulb | Dub | Cuilén | Cináed II | Amlaíb | Cináed II | Causantín III | Cináed III | Máel Coluim II | Donnchad I | Mac Bethad | Lulach | Máel Coluim III | Domnall III Bán | Donnchad II | Domnall III Bán | Edgar | Alexander I | David I | Máel Coluim IV | William I | Alexander II | Alexander III | First Interregnum | John | Second Interregnum | Robert I | David II | Edward | David II | Robert II | Robert III | James I | James II | James III | James IV | James V | Mary I | James VI* | Charles I* | The Covenanters | The Protectorate | Charles II* | James VII* | Mary II* | William II* | Anne*
* Also Monarch of Ireland and England

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