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THE HISTORY OF SCOTLAND, BOOK X
FTER Solvathius had died and been borne to the sacred tombs of the kings at Iona, King Ethfinus’ son Achaius, a man famed among the Scots for his justice and probity, was promoted to govern the people, with the multitue praying for his success. As a private citizen, Achaius had already come to appreciate that the old grudges between the nobility, with which he was familiar, were destined to kindle new fires, and that internal seditions were bound to arise to the detriment of his nation. He therefore thought that his first order of business was to prevent these as being greatly against the common interest, and to abide by his treaties with neighboring nations, after the manner of his ancestors. Therefore, regarding nothing was more important or more necessary to the happiness of his realm than ensuring concord among his subjects, he summoned the elders to him and discussed these matters in a meeting. At the advice of those prudent men, he first calmed, and then wholly eradicated even any semblance of a dispute between them by generously honoring them with his donatives. When Scottish quarrels had been eliminated root and branch at the outset of Achaius’ reign, war was threatened to the Hebridians by the Irish, because the Hebridians had been summoned by the locals to counter a band of Irish practicing their robbery in Cantyre, and had inflicted a dire slaughter on them. Lest this war be declared, Achaius sent ambassadors to the leading men of Ireland (which chanced to lack a king at that time) who were to tell them that it grieved the king of the Scots in Albion to hear that the people of Ireland, the original homeland of the Scots, were about to take up arms against the Hebridians, and that he was not unaware that this could not happen without a kindred nation suffering a great loss. Should robbers fight robbers and harm each other, this was no reason for a war between neighbors. If the Irish preferred peace to war, and for their ancient pact to remain intact, so would the Scottish. But (as he did not wish to happen) they preferred war to peace, or if they were hesitant which to choose, they should first very carefully consider the advantage of a timely peace, and how much loss and how many deaths this would forestall. They should also ponder whether peace was more easy to achieve in a time of peace or during a war: for sooner or later it would be necessary to enter into a piece, and it did not require much argumentation to decide whether it was more advantageous to do this after their affairs had been afflicted by a protracted or war, or while things were still untouched. From the examples of other nations, it was an established fact that it was better to enter into an immediate peace before more harm was inflicted than to be obliged to seek reparations after suffering harm.
2. The Irish nobles, having no lack of confidence in their future good fortune, replied they would stoutly do their duty. For it was needful to exercise their virtue and arms to avenge the wrong they had suffered in Cantyre, and they would do nothing about peace until they had either taken this vengeance or reparations were voluntarily made. They had already discussed the forthcoming war and prepared everything needful against any eventuality. They had chosen a thing, if not greatly useful, at least neither strange nor dishonorable, in accordance with the examples set by their forefathers. When the embassy returned from Ireland with this manner of reply and all Scotsmen turned their minds to cementing a peace, seeing that this war scarcely suited their king’s nature, a great number of Irish crossed over to Islay in their longships. And after having ravaged its fields and villages, as they were carrying home a great amount of plunder, their ships were sunk by a storm, and each and every one of them was drowned in the sea, together with their spoils. Hearing of these events, together with the Irish nobles’ reply as reported by his ambassadors, Achaius decided to send no further messenger to the Irish, how his professed enemies, concerning peace. He thought that this people, branded for its treachery, had paid its forfeits to an avenging God by the destruction of its forces, since it had attempted this crime while peace negotiations were still under way. Nor was he mistaken in this opinion. For after a few days ambassadors of the Irish nation arrived at Inverlochty, where the king chanced to be at the time, humbly begging for peace. With many tears they confessed how impiously they had sent a gang of robbers to Islay, and that God had acted most justly when He visited evils and woes upon them, after they had elect to scorn the goods freely offered them, as they had deservedly discovered. Therefore they now humbly and abjectly requested the peace which in their pride they had refused, when offered by the Scottish ambassadors.
3. Achaius’ reply to these statements was that the Irish were a stiff-necked nation, who refused to grow wise until they had received a thrashing. They were often opposed to their own advantage and freely chose to bring down troubles on themselves: they were foolish, furious and harmful when it least served their interest. The wound they had recently received, not at the hands of men but inflicted by God’s most righteous vengeance, served as proof to mankind how angry heaven becomes at those who harm their innocent neighbors with impious war when they are humbly requesting peace. Nevertheless, forgetting old and new wrongs, in order to show himself to mankind and to the Irish people (even if they little deserved it) a true follower of Christ, Who had so greatly praised, extolled, and recommended peace, he freely granted their request. When the ambassadors returned home, this peace was adopted with happy minds by the fathers of Ireland. Nor was it any the less pleasing to the Scots to be rid of this war, since over the long course of time they had experienced the troubles of war and the sweetness of peace, and knew how much better the one was than the other.
4. Meanwhile Charles (known as Charles the Great or Charlemagne for the greatness of his deeds), the King of French, devoted all his effort to fighting the enemies of Christianity had discovered that, having defeated the Britons, the English nation had arrived at such a degree of insolence that they were troubling the French and German seas, and indeed sometimes France itself, with their foul depredations, to the extent that they obstructed the passage of traders both by land and sea. So as to not to allow these English pirates the freedom to raid France and infest the French and German seas, in accordance with a decree of the petty kings of France (the so-called Peers), to enter into a treaty with the Scots and Picts, and among its various conditions was a stipulation that as often as the English invaded France, the Scots and Picts would wage war against them. Likewise, if ever the English were to trouble the Scots or Picts with war, the French would undertake to fight them and launch an attack on Britain. And so as to achieve this business, King Charles’ ambassadors were sent to King Achaius. When they came into his sight at a public parliament of the Scottish nobility convened for the purpose, the French spokesman said:
5. “Were King Charles of France, that great glory and champion of the Christian religion and protector of piety against the monstrous Saracens now striving might and main to attack it, not aware, noble Achaius, that you have a great concern for the common safety of the French nation and your own people, he would would not have sent us to you and your noble lords at this time, to obtain that which we are about to request. But your sincere concern, and that of the Scottish nation, for Christian piety, for the protection of which French arms are now engaged, and your good disposition towards the French have impelled us to cross the sea for the sake of this business, so that we representatives of King Charles have come to you more confidently, for religion’s sake. We suppose you are aware (and who can fail to know it?) what peril Christianity has suffered at the hands of its Arab enemies for a number of years now, under assault in Italy, France, and Spain; what a number of the pious have been destroyed by Saracen ferocity; how many cities and districts they have overrun; and how many of their leading citizens, worshipers of piety, they have reduced to dire slavery. In order to apply a remedy on this wound, growing daily to the endangerment of Christianity, our most pious King Charles has undertaken war against Christ’s enemies, and is waging it with such spirit, with such ready eagerness, that all men are convinced he has consecrated his person and life to the safety of the Christian flock. Charles hopes for nothing more, nor desires anything more wholeheartedly, than to bring this war he has begun to a happy ending, to relieve Christ’s worshipers from Saracen mishandling, restore holy churches to their former splendor, and do the same for bishops, priests, and all pious rites.
6. “And he fears nothing more than to be distracted from his pious endeavor by some domestic contention between Christians. For many peoples are attempting to infest France with their impious arms: Saxons, Frisians, Normans, and most particularly the English. These men, descended of Saxon blood, have lately acquired a kingdom in Britain, either driving out or subjugating its inhabitants, and are foully filling sea and land with their piratical depredations and bloody inroads. In order to counter their audacity, so that they might be less free to invade France or this kingdom of yours, our pious king and the elders of France earnestly desire to enter into a league with you and your people, and to form an alliance, so that both the French may come to the aid of the Scots, and the Scots to that of the French, if ever the English trouble either of them with an unjust war, assisting each other against their common enemies. In this way, the fathers of France believe, both people can equally avoid English harm (and they are the greediest of all people when it comes to seizing what belongs to others). Thus we cannot but hope that you, whose kingdom heaven has protected for so many centuries for your sincere observance of true piety its first adoption, will agree to our most pious King Charles’ just requests, and not be failing in any expedition against the enemies of Christianity.”
7. When these words had been spoken, and heard with inexpressible good-will, the ambassadors (who were all of an entirely venerable appearance) were shown hospitality by King Achaius with great honor and estate. While they were indulging in this friendly feasting, it was being debated among the elders, without any conclusion being reached, whether it was expedient to enter into a pact with the French, as these ambassadors of King Charles were requesting, for, as is only natural regarding a thorny question, they were of various opinions. Finally, by command of King Achaius, a parliament of the national nobility was convened and, lest they be present, the French ambassadors were sent off to the hunt in the company of a part of the Scottish nobility. And, at Achaius bidding, Culman, the governor of Mar (a man regarded by the Scots as possessed of notable uprightness), thus began to speak in the presence of his king and the elders: “I do not think anybody should find it surprising, King Achaius, if many men of your nation are strongly minded to enter into a league with the French, since they are convinced that nothing is better, more advantageous, fairer, or holier in human affairs than for the Scottish people to enter into a pact and alliance with that nation which is at the moment the wealthiest of all those in Europe, and imagine that this pact will confer great fame on Scotland throughout the world. But we must more closely consider, not the advantages one might plausibly think would derive from this league, but rather the evils. For in my opinion the result of this business, if we consent to it, will reveal to our posterity how greatly mistaken we were in so doing, and will do so clearly, but too late. For pray what else is this than to join with the French against the English, our nearby neighbor whose friendship ought to be most useful for us, and to have an enemy for our neighbor, practically on our doorstep — to have friends separated from us by a vast sea, according to whose whim we should be obliged to wage war against our nearby neighbors and to fight for other men’s security, offering our bodies to our enemies for savage wounding, for the sake of men who live far away, and thus exposing all our fortunes and our very lives to the utmost danger? I therefore think we should care lest, when we chase after false honor and empty glory, we provoke our neighboring nation the English, and, to our eternal shame, lose the liberty gained by our ancestors with such great effort, for the sake of which they so often fought against the Britons, Romans, Picts, and finally against the Saxons.
8. “Can anything more pernicious for a free nation be imagined, anything destined to incur greater loss, than to measure our rights of peace and war, our fortunes and our liberty, for which all living things unanimously fight, according to the will of a foreign nation, freely entering into servitude to them? If the French violate our pact while we are caught up in the ardor of a war which we undertook for their sake, and shirk their duty towards us or enter into some pact with our common enemies, leaving us to confront the full force of that war, would we have an arbiter whose authority would compel them to plead their cause and repay us for damage suffered at the hands of the English? Have we the resources and the strength by which, after having been broken in war for the sake of the French and almost brought to our knees, we could revenge ourselves on them for the damage we have suffered? If someday we are brought to the point (and I would hope this will never happen) that our fortunes are used up and our strength worn down after the French have deserted us, so that we cannot ward off English arms, to whom, pray, could we accuse the French of having broken their word? After having entered into this league (if enter it we do), we should have to deal with our enemies every day, but with our friends but rarely. We should always have to deal with the French with our enemy interposed between us, and would be obliged to cover a long stretch of land or vast expanse of the sea to reach our friends and our allies, when the need were upon us. The wares brought us out of France, Spain, and Germany will not be those we want, but those that the English allowed us. And when our traders are bent on crossing over to France or elsewhere, and are endangered by bad weather (as frequently befalls sailors), we will leave them with no safe harbor. Thusthey will be faced with the choice of perishing by the sea’s savagery or falling into the clutches of their enemy, their fortunes lost. And so you see, most prudent king and my circumspect lords, how much inconvenience these things will bring. And so I am of the opinion we should persist in our old peace with the Picts, Britons, and English, as did our ancestors, since we are not unaware how much this would conduce to the security of the Scottish nation, rather than seeking treaties with a new and strange nation, which until this very day has done us no favor (and I cannot help regarding their delegation with suspicion for desiring an alliance with such a long-distant nation), unless we wish to consecrate our kingdom, our liberty, and indeed our very lives to the safety of the French, to the neglect of our own.”
9. A great many men cried out in indignation at Culman’s words, thinking the French alliance to be both honorable and necessary. Then a certain nobleman named Albian, who by royal favor had been made governor of the Hebrides, is said to have spoken as follows: “If the four people now living in Albion, the English, Scots, Picts, and Britons, could attain a single, inviolable harmony, or if the English knew how to stand by their promises and keep their word, I would admit that Culman’s advice was not to be scorned, since we would have no reason for entering into a league with any foreign nation. Burt since the Scots, Picts, and Britons have encountered no people in the world who display more perfidy than the Saxons (who, having impiously gained a kingdom in Albion, have lately started calling themselves the English), I imagine it is clear to you that we must not just strive constantly with arms against the English, but also with perfidy, or else have some allies and confederates who will give us the extra strength to enable us to resist the temerity of those treacherous men. Tell me whether a man would call this good faith or perfidy? When the Saxons were once invited in as helpers against their enemies, given a hospitable reception, granted fine gifts, they stood everything on its head: they became enemies instead of allies, attackers instead of protectors. They turned their hostile arms against the British nation by whom they had been fetched in as auxiliaries a little earlier, inflicting the direst of slaughter on them, and despoiling them of their kingdom. What treaties have ever restrained this nation, when they had the chance to harm their neighbors or turn a profit? You yourselves know the answer to that question full well. Indeed they have never been ashamed of bad faith or of breaking their word, as long as they gained some advantage (if such can be called advantageous). Into how may calamities have the wretched Britons been brought by Saxon perfidy? How many times have they broken their treaties with ourselves and the Picts, when we least expected it? Indeed, at this time the English are fighting amongst themselves more by deceit than arms, with the result that in Northumbria so many kings and noblemen have been killed by trickery that scarce anybody can be found willing to assume its crown. Not many years ago, King Oswin of Northumbria perished by the treachery of his successor Oswy. Osric deprived Oswy of crown and life. Out of his desire to rule Egbert fraudulently put him to death. Mollo did in Egbert, Alfred killed Mollo, and he in turn died by the scheming of Ethelbert. Nor did Ethelbert have a happier end, for he has lately been betrayed by his followers and foully murdered.
10. “Nor are the English dwelling elsewere in Albion contending with any less than deceit than in Northumbria. Venerable bishops and devotees of piety, entrusted with spreading Christian belief, are so weary of this nation’s madness that they have abandoned their episcopal sees and monasteries and gone to foreign shores. And so the fact that the English are refraining from harming us is not to be attributed to any respect for faith and equity, or any reverence for existing treaties, but because they are suffering from internal sedition. Nor can any of us doubt that, when that is ended, they will disregard their treaties and immediately take up arms against us once more. And I can find no more expedient means of fending off their attempts than forming an alliance and treaty with that nation which, in conjunction with our own, can easily chastise the madness of that evil nation. Fortune has granted us the opportunity and the means. For the French ambassadors are here, freely offering that for which we could scarcely hope, inviting us to join in a pact against the English with a nation whom France, Spain, and no little part of Germany obeys. Surely this is not to be rejected by sane minds. Are we, the farthest-flung nation in the world, to reject a French offer of alliance, when world dominance has been granted them by divine favor as a reward for the sincere faith they most amply display towards both God and mankind? If we accept this gift with grateful minds, this will procure us the alliance of Spain, France, Germany, and the other nations subject to Charles’ rule. Hence merchants will be able to come to us, often and in safety, bringing all manner of wares. Therefore I hope that each and every one of you, having examined this matter with care, will judge that alliance with the French, powerful by sea and land thanks to their trustworthiness and wealth, is more conducive to Scotland’s welfare than is Saxon perfidy. And what man among you can be unaware that the English nation is plotting against our persons no less than against the British kingdom, and that it is no less greedy for our kingdom than that of the British, as long as its power matches its innate perfidy? And so, if we desire to avoid the arms of those most hostile of men, if we desire to avoid their deceit, if we worship the religion of Christ, on behalf of which the French are up in arms, if we value virtue more highly than perfidy, if we exert ourselves for the glory and repute of our nation, if we do so for our nation, our peace and quiet, and for life and liberty (and nothing is dearer to a man), we should eagerly enter into this pact with the French, and we should abide by it, in the expectation that this will be a sure protection of our realm, both for repressing English harm against us and for bringing us constant advantage and good repute.”
11. Employing this oration, or a one not very dissimilar, Albian swayed the multitude to adopt his point of view. Then, understanding that all men’s minds were inclining towards a French alliance, King Achaius bade that they all return to the same place on the following day, saying that he would reveal what the fathers adjudged to be most useful for the Scottish nation. After the meeting was dissolved, the French ambassadors were brought to the palace, where he treated them to a brilliant banquet. On the ensuing night, the fathers met with the king, and, without any dissent, they all supported Albian’s motion with their words and their votes. It was furthermore voted that Achaius brother William should be sent to France in the company of the French delegation, together with men of singular prudence, to draft the treaty. They should give great congratulations to King Charles for his victory gained over Christianity’s enemies, and express Achaius’ great gratitude for his having preferred the friendship of the Scots to that of the other nations of Albion. They also voted that four thousand men should be shipped to France to help Charles fight the Saracens. On the day, after Mass had been said, they all appeared at the meeting, displaying great happiness. Then King Achaius addressed the French ambassadors:
12. “The words of the right illustrious King Charles that you have brought are so well-pleasing to me and to the Scottish nation that there is no man in this multitude who does not happily and freely think you should be given a favorable response. All men of Scottish blood who have received word of the making of this treaty are of the opinion that they will be fortunate in the eyes of of foreign nations and highly distinguished, if ever they were to be honored by the friendship of such a great prince and the noble French nation. And so, since this will be lucky and prosperous for both nations, we have chosen to enter into an enduring alliance and pact with the most pious King Charles and the French nation, whose safety we desire more than of the rest of mankind. So that due order might be observed in drafting the conditions of this treaty and in all things concerning this business, we have decided to send along with you, noble ambassadors, my brother William and four men of uncommon learning and outstanding probity, to whose fidelity are commend all things having to do with our dealings with King Charles, and along with them four thousand armed men, to be sent against the enemies of Christianity wherever Charles commands.” Charles’ ambassadors, delighted by these words, gave their great thanks to Achaius, his nobles, and the multitude. The meeting was dissolved, and they retired into the palace in the king’s company. After they had relaxed with Achaius and the nobles of the realm for several days, exchanging mutual congratulations, they went to Hungus, king of the Picts, requesting nearly the same things they had obtained from King Achaius. Hungus is said to have praised the Frenchmen’s kindness towards himself, but said that that their requests contained something greater than could easily be discussed: he required time to deliberate such a difficult matter, and treaties should not rashly be entered into with a nation so far distant from Pictish territory lest this be done at the Picts’ expense, should he agree with the French to harm the English and by his own fault be led into a situation from which he could not easily retrieve himself. Hearing the king’s response, the ambassadors returned to Achaius, their business not successfully completed.
13. Two months thereafter, having collected the things that appeared needful for their voyage, William and Charles’ ambassadors, and also Clement, John, Rhabanus and Alcuin (the four men s Achaius elected out of the company of pious and learned Scotsmen to make the journey with his brother William) and a stout band of Scotsmen crossed over to France. Charles received the arriving William and his companions with uncommon kindness, for he rejoiced that with unanimous approval he had gained what he had requested from the King of Scots by means of his representatives. He commanded they be given royal hospitality and be treated in kingly estate. He ordained that William’s soldiers be salaried to fight alongside the French in his army. Soon thereafter, at their request and with King Charles’ consent, the Scottish ambassadors displayed documents of Achaius in which were set forth his conditions for a treaty between the French and Scots, to be binding on the posterity of both nations. These, as was then the custom, were ceremoniously read aloud by heralds and the treaty was made. It contained the following terms:
The friendship and alliance of the French and Scottish peoples, and the posterity of both nations, would be perpetual.
English mischiefmaking or war waged against either people would be deemed common to both of them.
Should the English wage war against the French, Scottish soldiers would come to their aid, with the King of France paying the cost of their armament and provisions.
Should the Scots fall victim to English harm, the French would come to their aid at their own expense.
Should any private or public man of their confederated peoples aid the English against either with his arms, advice, or financial support, or come to them as a runaway, he should be regarded as treasonable by them both.
Neither nation would be entitled to enter into an armistice with the English, without the permission of the other.
14. These were the terms of the treaty between the two people, written on parchment in Latin and preserved both in France and in the kingdom of Scotland, as a record of their alliance preserved for posterity down through the long centuries. And so that this solemn treaty would always be impressed on the memory of the Scottish nobility, Achaius added to the royal coat of arms of Scotland a double fence with lilies counterpoised enclosing a red lion on a golden field, signifying that henceforth the lion would be protected by French aid, and the kings of Scotland would fight for their nation and liberty, their religion and innocent, by fiercely striking out at their enemies, all of which, in the heralds’ opinion, was duly signified by the lilies. Clement, John and William remained with Charles in France, while Rhabanus and Alcuin went home. William was present at all the battles subsequently fought by Charles. He acquired a reputation as a warrior blameless in every respect, and he was counted among the chief nobles of France and held in high honor, and his virtue made him famous in many of Charles’ expeditions against various nations: against the Saxons because, although often defeated, they did not accept the laws dictated by Charles nor abide by their treaties; against the Hungarians and Normans (at this time they did not yet inhabit Neustria) because they warred against those very ancient friends of the Franks, the Abdorici; but most of all, when Charles, to his great glory, restored Leo III to his papal see of Rome after having been unjustly expelled from the city, and for his noble merits received the title Augustus from Leo,; while marching through Tuscany, restored the city of Florence to its erstwhile splendor after having been in large part destroyed by the Goths. He returned to the city all its nobility, scattered among nearby towns, enclosed the city in new walls, decorated it with churches, and, so its citizens might live in freedom, gave it magistrates and laws.
15. Although these marvelous benefits were conferred on the Florentines by authority of King Charles, the diligent execution of these tasks was entrusted to William. For Charles did not stay long at Florence, but rather returned to France, and allowed William full power to restore Florence as he saw fit. Nor did he show himself behindhand in doing this, industriously accomplishing all of Charles’ mandates. And he extended the empire of the newly-restored city over its neighboring cities. The Florentines were not ungrateful for the benefit they had received. To gratify Charles (who was then Roman Emperor) and his deputy Count William, they adopted as their civic emblems a red lily, differing from the lilies of France only in its color, for themselves and their posterity, so that whoever beheld it would be reminded that Florence had once been sacked by barbarians, but restored to its former splendor by the kindness of the French. They also established annual public games, in which a lion was crowed with great show and ceremony, and ordained that lions be forever maintained at Florence (that kind of animal being William’s badge). It is recorded that they had received an ancient oracle that, as long as lions live at Florence, and as long as the Florentine lion wears its crown, their city will not be subjected to foreign rule. Some write that William initiated all these things before returning to France. But at whatever time, and at whatever man’s instigation these customs were adopted, nobody can be unaware that these annual games are held in Florence in accordance with ancient tradition.
16. After his nearly countless exertions shared with Charles on behalf of the welfare of Christianity and old man, since he had always devoted himself to campaigning and never to marriage, William was childless. To make Christ his heir, he built several monasteries in Germany and Italy, endowed with estates and lands for their support, and ordained that they be hospitals for Christ, that they should toil on behalf of virtue and learning, and teaching mankind aright. So that his memory would be cherished and forever celebrated where he he had done his most excellent works, he further enjoined that these monasteries should never ordain a man as a monk or abbot who was not of Scottish blood. As evidence of this, there exists a monastery in Bavaria which, thanks to the steady faithfulness of the Germans, has remained unchanged from its original foundation down to our own day. Before these things were done by the elderly William, King Charles had bestowed on John and Clement, the Scottish ambassadors he had retained at his court in France because of their distinguished learning and grave lives, a suitable place in the environs of Paris, together with fields to support their lives and studies, so that they might provide a liberal education for the noble young Frenchmen who came a-flocking to them.
17. A throng of young men arrived there, eager for learning, and the diligence exercised by these teachers in their training quickly brought it about that this was a very famous center of learning at Paris. Nor where men wanting to teach the various disciplines. And Charles Augustus (who was no stranger to learning) was delighted by the increase of their instruction. In order that the kingdom of France would be ornamented by learning, he ordained that there be a general school of letters at Paris, that Clement should be its master, and that John should migrate to Pavia and found a school there. These were the humble beginnings of the University of Paris, destined soon to be famous for its men erudite in all branches of divine and human learning. In our time it is so distinguished by the number of its students and its erudition that nowhere in the world can its equal be seen. There is scarce anywhere in the world where one does not find its graduates: professors of theology, experts in canon law, physicians, philosophers, and men endowed with wonderful eloquence. There they vie with each other in their knowledge of literature down to their very fingertips. There one finds the flowers of sacred learning, and threefold philosophy embellished with the welcome grace of rhetoric. There acceptable authors are read aloud everywhere, and studious youth are properly instructed in learning by the care of their preceptors. All things, in sum, at the University of Paris can be seen to show evidence of learning already gained, or at least of undoubted hope for its acquisition. Then too, the nature of the place lacks no commodity of use for its students. About this city, the Norman poet John of Hauteville has written at the end of the second Canto of his Archithrenius: “At length there rose up a place, Paris, a second palace of Phoebus, a Delphi for mankind, a Golden City with its ores, a Greece with its books, an India with its studies, a Rome with its poets, a Sidon with its elegance of dress, its food and drink. It is wealthy in its farmlands, fertile in its wines, civil in its inhabitants, fertile in its crops, thickly-forested with vine-shoots, yet devoid of thorns. It is full of game and fishful lakes, and teems with fowl. It is neat in its homesteads, strong because of its master, pious towards its kings. It has sweet air a pleasant location, and abounds in all good things, in everything graceful, everything fine, if only Fortune favors good men.” I must celebrate this home of the Muses, praiseworthy for all centuries, because, although for a while I studied at Aberdeen, I was given birth and produced by it, and I shall honor and venerate it as long as there is breath in my body, with the love and reverence which a child owes its excellent mother.
18. But I must return to the remainder of Achaius’ deeds. At this time, or certainly at one not much different, Athelstane, son of King Ethelwulf of Wessex, who had gained an empire over Kent, Essex, Mercia, and Northumbria (subdued by his grandfather Egbert) was eager to extend his realm, so he marshaled his forces and marched against Deira, then a Pictish district. His excuse was that Deira had been stolen from the the Northumbrians, whom he ruled, by the Picts’ fraud and violence. Soon, killing nearly all the young men in Deira, dragging off its captive old men together with their wives and virgins, firing their hamlets and towns, and also wasting their crops and driving off their cattle, he turned back to put down a rebellion of the Mercian English of which he had received word. King Hungus of the Picts was sorely vexed by the damage caused by the English, and by means of his ambassadors complained of the damage he had suffered to his brother-in-law King Achaius (who had married Hungus’ sister Fergusiana some years previously, and had fathered a son, Alpin, then a young man of demonstrated virtue). He used many arguments to urge Achaius to furnish his help for warring against the English, whom the Scots should also rightfully consider their enemy for having waged an unprovoked war against their friends and allies. He gained this without difficulty (for Achaius deeply loathed the English), and up to ten thousand Scotsman were sent to support him in his fight against Athelstane. Relying on his own forces and these auxiliaries, Hungus violently burst into Northumbria, wasting everything, but during that expedition he refrained from killing and arson. This fact attests to Hungus’ mercy, for he was greatly devoted to religion. But the Picts left this district picked clean of plunder, which they carried back to Lothian.
19. Athelstane was a fierce young man. Hearing of this, he abandoned his project of suppressing the Mercians’ uprising, and went to Northumbria to attack Hungus, should he be remaining there. Then he marched his great army to Lothian more speedily than anyone anticipated, hard on his enemies’ heels. The Picts had encamped in a field adjoining a small fast-running stream, two miles from Haddington, for the purpose of sharing the spoils among their soldiers and deliberating with what forces the English army about to move against them (as it appeared) might be fended off. They feared nothing less than the arrival of their enemies at that place. Athelstane learned from his spies where they were, and for what reason they had stopped, and hastened to them by a forced march in the night. Before the dawn he had so stationed his soldiers in front of the Picts that they had no opportunity whatsoever for avoiding battle, and by means of the loudest-voiced man in his army he announced that he would not spare a single man in Hungus’ army. The Pictish soldiers were terrified by this statement and that such a number of their enemy had appeared in the twilight. Seeing them in their battle array, they stood stock-still in amazement. Then, silently exchanging glances, they asked themselves what was in store for them all, and a strange fear came over the minds of many. Soon, at Hungus’ command, they all applied themselves to fortifying their camp so it would not be damaged by enemy attacks. They appreciated that this would be of little help, since during the night the enemy had seized all their baggage and the plunder they had transported from Northumbria (these had been placed in a field hard by their camp), and during the day their elders held a lengthy debate about the way they might best extricate themselves from their danger.
20. Meanwhile Athelstane had chosen a place suitable for a fight and stood in warlike array within sight of the enemy, determined not to make any delay in joining battle, if only the Picts agreed to come to blows. Although English soldiers rode up and challenged their enemy to a fight, that day passed with no engagement. After various discussions had been continued until the evening, and even into the deep of night, they all voted to try the fortune of war, and either to conquer or to die bravely and honorably. After they had snatched some sleep, in their obvious jeopardy they all turned their thoughts to religion and with their earnest prayers besought the help of Christ. And their many pious entreaties were heard. With many a sigh and much tears, King Hungus prayed to St. Andrew, the patron saint of the Picts and Scottish, that he would come to the aid of his special peoples, lest they be brought to ruin by English arms. When the king was slumbering in the dead of night, suddenly the apostle stood next to his bed and bade him be of better cheer and have no fear of his enemies’ numbers, but rather place all his hope in divine aid. On the morrow it would come to pass that he would gain a glorious victory over his enemies. They write that a wonderful thing then occurred above the Pictish camp: a bright cross appeared, resembling that cross on which the apostle Andrew once suffered punishment for the name of Christ, and that the apostle showed this to Hungus and told him that this vision would not disappear from the sky until he had gained the day. Waking up, the king told his soldiers, who were already marveling at the bright cross shining in the dark night, of the fortune that St. Andrew had promised himself and his army. In the quiet of the night, he urged his men to launch a vigorous attack on the enemy at dawn: with God favorable to himself and averse to his enemy, their great numbers were not at all to be feared.
21. The king’s words were followed by the grateful shouts of all his men. Hearing this and also seeing the fiery cross (for they had stayed awake all night under arms), the English had a premonition that this was an evil omen for themselves and were very greatly panic-stricken. At daybreak Hungus led his forces out of camp and set them in order, and gave the signal to join battle, loudly calling on St. Andrew to be manifestly present as their helper: with him their leader, the Picts and Scots would gain the day with no danger. At their king’s words the soldiers threw themselves against the English with such force that, when they could not withstand the onrush, the Northumbrians were the first to break ranks, and soon their entire battle line turned tail. First they fled to the baggage and the plunder they had taken the previous day, and there more killing was done than in the battle itself. The captives who were kept by the baggage helped on the victory. When they saw their fellow-countymen falling on the conquered English, they raged against them with far greater savagery than did the victors. The massacre became so general that out of what had recently been such a huge English army scarce five hundred men got away to safety. King Athelstane was run through with a lance and killed in the first encounter, and the place where the battle fought is called Athelstaneford in our day, in memory of the dead English king. Having gained his victory, Hungus recalled his men to their standards with a trumpet-call. There they passed the night under arms, and on the following day the spoils were divided among the soldiers in accordance with military custom. They searched for Athelstane’s body among the dead, and when it was at length found it was taken to a nearby church and given a royal burial. Others write that his head was cut off and fixed to a pole as a laughingstock at Inchgarvie.
22. Afterwards the victors set aside their arms and went barefoot to the church of St. Regulus in Otholinia (now the church of St. Andrews), to offer up their thanks to Christ’s apostle for the benefit he had conferred, following King Hungus in a long procession. Arriving there and having performed rites with great ceremony, first the king, then the Scottish and Pictish nobles, and finally the rest of the host reverently kissed the relics of the apostle Andrew, giving great thanks to Christ and his apostle, and, at Hungus’ urging, they promised that henceforth they and their posterity would use the cross of St. Andrews as their emblem whenever they had to go forth to battle, to attest their gratitude for this noble victory, won by divine aid. This remained the constant custom of the Picts and, after their extermination, of the Scots. When these things had been happily accomplished, the Scotsmen who had joined the Picts on this campaign, having received their share of their spoils and having been given worthy gifts by Hungus, went home with rejoicing. And Hungus, to show himself a true devotee of this saving apostle, in his zeal for the increase of religion, enlarged the church with magnificent furniture and a number of priests for the performance of holy offices. He bestowed fine gifts on it: chalices, vials, lavaboes, and statues of the Savior and his twelve apostles fashioned of silver and gold, as well as a reliquary of solid gold to contain the relics of St. Andrew. Additionally, he freely bestowed on this church of Christ, to serve the needs of its clergy with the wherewithal for all their ecclesiastical dignities, a tithe of the cattle and all manner of crops, incomes, and lands throughout his kingdom. And he proclaimed by edict that henceforth the clergy should not be haled before secular courts, nor be subject to capital punishment.
23. And yet the Pictish clergy enjoyed the free use of these gifts and this privilege for only a very few years. For Ferdeth, the fourth ruler of the Picts after Hungus, completely took away from that that pious king’s donatives and also their privilege, ordaining that, when summoned, they should stand before the secular bar and live content on their ancient revenues. Those incomes Hungus had bestowed on the Church were appropriated by soldiers, courtiers, and other royal hangers-on. The nobility of the Pictish nation supported their king’s impious edict, thinking that whatever was devoted to the use of the pious was lost, just the same as what was stolen by the violence of their enemy. Many men think that this was the reason why the Fates soon dragged down the Pictish kingdom, maintained over so many centuries under so many kings, to its final downfall. Some of our annalists maintain that what I have reported about Hungus and Athelstane happened at another time, albeit one not greatly different from this. But in these things, as in most others, I follow Vairement, because that writer appears to be more painstaking in his chronology than the rest.
24. Henceforth the times of Hungus and Achaius and of their peoples were peaceful, since the strength of the English had been shattered and they abstained from war. At length Achaius departed this life, in the thirty-second year of his reign, which was the year of Christian salvation 819, and sixth year of the reign of Hungus. His body was borne to Iona in royal estate, with a great number of the pious serving as its escort. A contemporary of King Achaius was Paul the Deacon, who added eight Books to the writings of Eutropius, written in the historical style, covering the period from the emperor Julian the Apostate down to the times of Anastasius, and in these much is recorded about our nation. The same man also write a history of the Lombards. For he was the son-in-law of that Desiderius whom Charlemagne took captive and enchained when he had overthrown the Lombards’ kingdom. The hymn we use in our divine services, Ut queant laxis resonare fibris, is his. Another contemporary was Isuard, a man of French blood and a monk by profession. At Charles’ urging, in his terse style he wrote a book of the acts of the saints, and entitled his work the Martyrologium. Then there was Alcuin, Charles’ tutor, whose many works, redolent of piety, have come down to us. Among our fellow-countrymen was Bishop Gervadius, a distinguished preacher of Christ’s teachings in Moray. Galcianus, also a bishop, an excellent teacher, not without a reputation for sanctity. Modanus and Medanus, two brothers devoted to the monastic life, who set examples of virtue to be imitated by posterity. In Achaius’ lifetime, as I have said, Charlemagne presided over Roman affairs, although in the east it was ruled by Constantine VI, for it was at this time that the Roman empire was divided in two. It was at his command that a council of three hundred and fifty bishops was held at Nicea, to determine once and for all whether images of the saints were to be restored in churches or abolished for all time. By great common consent it was decided that the custom of the Roman Church should be followed and they should be kept in churches, with the addition of a formula for their worship set forth in two little verses, so that the thing would be free of all suspicion of idolatry. Today these are preserved everywhere in the form in which they were translated out of the Greek into Latin:
A God the image represents,
But is no God in kind ;
That's the eye’s object, what it shows
The object of the mind.
25. While Achaius was still alive, the Emperor Charles, preeminent in both the arts of peace in war, always outstanding for his kindness and generosity towards all men (it was questionable whether he was nobler for his martial virtue, the greatness of his secular accomplishments, or his devotion to true piety), was taken off by a fatal disease, after having ruled France for forty-seven and reigning as Roman Emperor for fourteen. This was in the year of Christ’s Incarnation 815. His tomb is at Aachen with this inscription, THE BODY OF THE MOST CHRISTIAN ROMAN EMPEROR CHARLEMAGNE IS BURIED WITHIN THIS TOMB. This occurred in the twenty-ninth year of the reign of Achaius. His nephew Convallus, the son of his brother Dongallus, son of Ethfinus, was by unanimous vote declared king at a parliament met in Argyll. Convallus was the most beloved of all men to Hungus because he had always punctually observed the ancient friendship of the Scots and Picts. Nothing was done, either at home or abroad, by either of them without the guidance and advice of the other, so that both kings and their realms enjoyed peace and quiet. Hungus died of a wasting disease, bequeathing the kingdom of the Picts to his son Dorstolorgus in the presence of Convallus, who himself did not long survive. For he died a little later, in the fifth year of his reign.
26. They immediately replaced him with Dongallus, the son of King Solvathus (of whom I have written at length above), a man notable for his prudence. A few days later some Scottish nobles who, being eager for a freer life, greatly feared Dongallus’ severity (he hated the insolent manners of the young), urged Achaius’ son Alpin to seize his father’s throne. When they discovered that this young man was not keen about accomplishing this business, they came into his chamber and held their drawn swords over his head, swearing a dreadful oath that, if he did do as they instructed concerning the seizure of the throne, opposing Dongallus with all the force he could muster, he would quickly find their swords being aimed against himself. The young Alpin was amazed by this sudden event and feared for his safety, and swore his allegiance to the nobles to save his life. They gathered some forces, partly composed of mercenaries and partly of supporters of their conspiracy, and fomented a great uprising against Dongallus in the Scottish districts. After various excursions, they arrived in Argyll so that they might crown Alpin as he sat on the Stone of Destiny, in accordance with ancestral tradition. But Alpin, lest the very peaceful condition of Scotland be in any degree disturbed by his doing, abandoned the conspirators and, in the company of a few men privy to his intentions, fled to Dongallus. Upon his arrival, Dongallus gave him a very honorable reception, embracing him with pious affection, and promised that, should the Scottish people so desire, he would abdicate his office, maintaining there was nothing he desired more than the felicity of the royal house of King Achaius. For that king had done so much good for Scotland’s welfare that he would be acting impiously if he allowed Achaius descendants to be cheated out of their kingdom.
27. Alpin thanked the king, but begged him to continue in his government, swearing that he had thought of nothing less than of seizing the throne in his lifetime. And the fact that he had assembled forces and marched them into Argyll was not his fault, but that of the conspirators. For if he had not consented to their demands, he would have died a cruel death. The king should think this about him and nothing else, and he should expect from the dutifulness a son owes his father, in accordance with nature’s law. Three days later, ambassadors from the conspirators came to Dongallus, openly accusing Alpin so as to lighten his displeasure with their own guilt. The king was fully aware that all these allegations leveled at Alpin were intended to mitigate the atrocity of the rebels’ crime, gave them no friendly hearing, and commanded them immediately to return whence they had come. He threatened that, as soon as he had the opportunity, he would put down their insolent uprising, execute the men responsible for it, and put the condition of Scotland on a better footing. Nor were his treats in vain. For he speedily summoned some companies of fighting men, and, marching nights and days, came to the rebels before they had received word of his departure. At the news of this, the conspirators were cut off even as they were preparing to flight, and immediately condemned to death. Their punishment put an end to other men’s bold enterprises, and pacified Scotland for a while.
28. While Scottish affairs stood thus, Eganus, the second son of King Hungus of the Picts, was motivated by his greed for power deceitfully to murder his brother Dorstolorgus. He assumed the purple and declared himself king, although precious few Picts voted in his favor. To secure his reign, he lavished his father’s wealth (which was considerable) on the leading nobles of his realm, and, having won over some of them by so doing, married Brenna, the daughter of the king of Mercia (who had previously been married to King Dorstolorgus), so that the woman would be in no wise dishonored and he could deflect whatever wrath her father might feel at the murder of his son-in-law. He relied on bodyguards and went nowhere without an armed escort, whom he had made his friends, not by any kindheartedness, but by his profuse largesse. He granted an audience to nobody, not even his wife, without his bodyguards first searching their persons for concealed weapons, imagining (as was indeed the case) that a large number of men were conspiring against his life for his brother’s killing and his shady morals. Therefore, fearing everybody and unworthy of respect by anybody, he governed the Pictish kingdom. And in the end, his expectation did not mislead him: at night, when he was deeply slumbering because he had drunk himself to sleep, he was strangled amidst his bodyguards by his wife Brenna, who was eager to avenge the death of her previous husband. This occurred after he had ruled the Pictish kingdom for two years. With Eganus and Dorstolorgus thus dead without issue, and Hungus’ line defunct, Alpin (who was Hungus’ nephew by his sister Fergusiana) laid claim to the throne of the Picts. At King Dongallus’ prompting, he sent representatives to the Pictish elders, to deliver a friendly request that they grant him the kingship which was his by hereditary right. For, after the death of his uncle Hungus and his sons, he was the closest heir to the throne. The ambassadors were to say that it was an act of divine intervention that the right of rule over their two adjoining peoples, who had often suffered from terrible wars fought against other thanks to their great hatred, were finally made a single commonswealth, with the right of rule devolving on a single man in is whose veins ran the blood of both nations.
29. The Pictish elders, forewarned about the arrival of this delegation and the nature of the request it would make, unanimously voted to bid Feredethus, a man of great authority among them, to reign, as a means of depriving Alpin of grounds for demanding the kinship. Not many days later the ambassadors arrived at Camelodonum, where Feredethus had been meeting with the Pictish elders, and delivered their message in a public assembly. When they made mention of bestowing the crown on Alpin the common people erupted in shouting, and they were prevented from saying more. At length the crowd fell silent, and the Scottish ambassadors received this response from Feredethus: the Picts neither should nor by rights could have a sovereign of foreign blood; their nation had a law that royal power should pass from one family to another, when need arose; and by this same law it was forbidden for a king to abdicate his rule prior to his death. Therefore there remained no right for Alpin to stake a claim on the Pictish throne, since he was a man born of foreign blood. For, albeit he was the nephew of a former king by his sister Fergusiana, his line had come to an end in Eganus, for the kingship had been transferred to another family, from which a king had already been created. When these words had been reported at home, King Dongallus decided to send another embassy to the Picts to demand the kingship for Alpin, lest he be deprived of his right to rule by Pictish lies of this kind. Should this be denied, they should declare war, to begin three months henceforth. After the ambassadors had left home, when it was heard that they were approaching Camelodonum, gendarmes were sent to them, in the name of Feredethus forbidding their entry into the city and ordering them to depart Pictish territory within four days, on pain of death. The terrified ambassadors bade the gendarmes report the declaration of war in the names of Alpin and Dongallus, as they themselves had been instructed, and they went back home, crying out that the Picts were in manifest violation of international law.
30. Therefore the leading Scottish men came in their numbers to King Dongallus (at the time he was in a strongly fortified castle in Carrick), to discuss the management of a war in a parliament. Not a man of them failed to vow all his fortunes and his life to aid Alpin in gaining his rights, and they took it sorely amiss that they were being mocked by Pictish lies and their embassy had been spurned, in defiance of international law. They therefore were of one mind in their desire to fight the Picts to the point of their utter destruction, if they did not deliver the throne due to Alpin. Over and over, they said that their grounds for war were pious, and that it was right for Alpin to resort to arms to claim his throne, since he could not do so otherwise, from which the Picts were seeking to debar him, which was a supreme insult. Therefore both peoples immediately strove with might and main to prepare for war against each other, the Picts to avoid gaining a foreigner for their king, and the Scots lest Alpin be deprived of his ancestral kingship by Pictish deceit. While Dongallus was diligently bent on war preparations, and was enlisting soldiers throughout Scotland’s districts, he was unfortunately drowned when his boat capsized as he was crossing the river Spey, in the sixth year of his reign, the year of Christ our Savior 830. Alpin bore his body to Iona with great honor. Returning from there, after the ceremonies had been performed at the Stone of Destiny in Argyll, the elders of Scotland hailed him as king, to the cheering of the agreeable multitude. Having thus gained the kingship, in order that nothing be lacking for the successful conduct of the war, Alpin gathered provisions and enlisted an army, and exercised the most careful diligence in ensuring that everything would be ready for any eventuality.
31. Fierce Feredethus, for his part, took King Dongallus’ death as a favorable omen, with the enemy leader removed, and sent out messengers in all directions, commanding that the things which appeared useful for waging war be put in a state of readiness. In the company of a choice company of soldiers, he himself rode to Horestia, where he had bidden the entire Pictish host to assemble. The Scots had already arrived in this region. Using no violence against the peasantry, they had begun to set siege to the fortress of Forfar. On the third day, Feredethus showed himself to the Scots, with his army set in great array. They came together near Restennoth, and at the first collision (the sharpest of them all) the Scottish right wing was all but overcome. But Fenedocthus, the governor of Althol, came to help with four hundred men of that district and restored the situation in that part of the field, not without bloodshed. A terrible fight ensued, with neither side yielding and both dealing out a great deal of death and resorting to no flight. For a while the victory hung in the balance, with their standards at one moment being abandoned by the greater part of the men in the forefront, and at another being recaptured by their companies. King Feredethus observed that his van was at length failing, and, in the company of the stoutest bands of Picts, he attacked the enemy opposite him with such an onrush that, while he was energetically bent on the fight, he went too far in cutting his way through the Scots and was completely cut off from his own men. Therefore the bravest Picts, who were surrounded together with King Feredethus, finding no avenue for escaping to their own men since they were prevented by their thickly-packed enemy, formed a circle and fought excellently to avenge their own deaths, and died to the last man together with their king, more exhausted than overcome. This did not cool off the rest of the Picts’ ardor for the fight, which they continued as long as any daylight remained. Nightfall finally separated them and both sides retired to their baggage, very much resembling defeated armies. When the Picts realized that King Feredethus had been killed together with their bravest men, and that a great part of their army was lost, they left their wounded on the field, together with their baggage, and each man escaped to safety in the darkness, going where his panic took him. The Scots would also have made an immediate departure, seeing that they had lost such a number of men in that fight, had it not been reported to Alpin that Picts had fled in disorder and disappeared, leaving behind their baggage.
32. This kept the Scots in the vicinity of the battlefield until first light, and when the day dawned some Scots horsemen rode out at Alpin’ command to determine whether the Picts’ flight represented some stratagem. Ascending nearby hills, they saw no living man in the adjacent fields, and in the afternoon rode back to King Alpin. So the Scots, glad for their victory, despoiled the dead, their baggag, and the furniture discovered within it, and shared it out in accordance with military custom. Alpin ensured that Feredethus’ body be given a royal Christian burial in the district of Forfar. Then he reviewed his army and, discovering that a third of it had been lost, gave the rest leave to go home. This deadly battle was fought during the first year of both kings’ reigns. When it was finished, with sufficient loss of blood by both sides, the Scots, lest they henceforth entrust their public safety to the fortune of a single fight, harassed their enemy with many troubles by mounting light raids and incursions into Pictish territory. First they broke into Horestia, from which they removed the cattle and all the grain they could carry back to Athol, burning the rest and killing a few men. There followed frequent Scottish inroads, and at length they emptied the district of Horestia of its inhabitants. Feredethus’ son Brudus, recently made king of the Picts, sought to oppose these Scottish ventures, but managed everything so slothfully that he became a butt of laughter for his courtiers and soldiers. And so the Picts, lest they suffer greater loss by their enemies’ daily raids through the fault of this monstrous ruler, feigned a sedition by prearrangement and killed Brudus in the first year of his reign. Feredethus’ second son Kenneth succeeded to the Pictish throne, but he was not destined to enjoy a happier reign nor death than his brother. For, having reviewed his forces, he marched into Horestia to met his enemies, and when he came within sight of them, he was overcome by fear. Throwing away his arms and donning the cloak of an ordinary soldier, he took to his heels in a mad rush and was killed, unrecognized, by a rustic fellow who rebuked him for his flight, after being the subject of many reproaches. Lest they fight a difficult battle in their leaderless condition, the other Picts departed in good order, declining battle.
33. After Kenneth’s unhappy end, Brudus, a man of great spirit, accepted the government of the Picts, having been elected by their elders. Immediately after gaining the crown, he entered Horestia, a district devastated by Scottish raids, where he hanged whatever Scottish robbers he could find. Afterwards, Pictish ambassadors were sent to King Alpin concerning the payment of reparations for injuries inflicted by both sides, and the renewal of the ancient pact between their peoples. They were immediately given the answer that Alpin and the Scottish elders would grant them no audience concerning peace until the Picts had surrendered their throne to its rightful heir. Then Brudus, gathering from this response that the Scots intended to continue in their war against the Picts, lest he succumb to the impending danger, decided to enter into a pact with the English and hire mercenaries from that quarter, who would make him better equipped to wage the present war. Therefore he sent ambassadors to King Edwin of the English, bearing a great sum of money, to request that he at least allow them to hire mercenaries to fight their present war, promising him a perpetual Pictish alliance against whatever enemy he might have. Edwin did not reject Brudus’ requests. Taking the money, he promised that, when it was time to march against the Scots, he would appear with a fine army of young Englishmen, at the place specified by Brudus. Some Picts rejoiced that, as they imagined, the English had been recruited to take their part, and promised themselves victory over the Scots. Others thought the English were not to be relied upon, since a few years previously the Picts had killed King Athelstane with such a great number of men, raging against that conquered nation with such remarkable cruelty.
34. And so Brudus, trusting English power, readied himself with great eagerness to fight a war about which the Pictish elders entertained various opinions. Meanwhile, introducing a great army into the region, the Scots occupied Horestia from the Grampian Hills to the estuary of the Tay. Learning of the damage they were doing, Brudus sent a herald to King Edwin requesting that he join him in campaigning against the Scots, who were at that very moment invading Pictish soil. The English king replied that he was caught up in a civil war, and that he had been requested by his friend Louis the Pious, King of France, not to harm his Scottish allies, and so could not help the Picts that year. If, however, he chose to delay the war until the following year, he and his English army would come to his aid. Brudus, thus deceived and left to curse English perfidy, immediately commanded all men of his nation capable of bearing arms and enrolled in his army to assemble on the eighth day, bringing their necessary provisions, and there to await his orders. There was no Pict who did not obey his king. And so great forces were gathered on that day, and them immediately marched to Dunkeld. Then, having crossed the Tay without especial difficulty, they entered into Horestia. On the night before the battle, in accordance with the sage advice of his veterans (for there were some such in the army, whom he revered as if they were his fathers when it came to martial skill), he stripped the loads off his pack-horses and bade his women and camp-followers mount them: some of these were clad in armor, others wore linen, and they held poles and lengths of wood that resembled spears. Among them he interspersed a hundred horsemen who were privy to the scheme, who were to supervise the management of this business. He concealed them in a grove hard by the place where he imagined the battle would be fought, telling them not to show themselves to the enemy until it had commenced.
35. At this time, Alpin was staying in a castle built on a small mountain near Alecto (nowadays men call it Dundee Hill), of which only a few ruins can be seen in our age. Northwards of the hill was a large plain, which was largely fenced in by forested hills, although they are now devoid of trees. When he could see from his castle that the Pictish forces were drawn up in battle array, Alpin went to his camp and quickly brought out his soldiers. After his battle-line had been formed, in a brief speech he urged them to display their bravery in a fight they had so eagerly asked for in the past, and be spurred on to fine action, not just by their sense of shame, but out of love for their nation and their lives. They should banish the thought of danger from their minds and hurl themselves against their enemy, and, thinking of nothing else but maintaining their own safety by managing the thing well, they should hope to gain the victory for which they were piously fighting, for this was the reward of martial virtue. Having gained this, they would show themselves as nobler in the eyes of other nations, since in everyone’s judgment they were fighting in a juster cause. Meanwhile the Picts were so eager to come to grips with the enemy that they began the fight before their commander could give the order. At the first collision, the right wing of the Scots (attacked by the greatest number of Picts) was thrown into great confusion. Taking a fine company of men, Alpin immediately hastened to their aid, and rebuked them because the ferocity they had displayed in the camp had turned into panic when it came to actual combat. Thanks to his intervention, the battle was rejoined, and those who had been driven back pitched in to killing their enemy with a will. While these things were transpiring, the camp-followers lurking in the woods revealed themselves at a distance behind the Scots, giving the false impression that they were horsemen riding into battle. Since the wavering Scotsmen imagined they were far more numerous then they actually were, out of fear lest they be surrounded they broke off the fight and fled at breakneck speed. Little killing had been done in the battle, but a great deal during their fight, for their fear of women and camp-followers did much more to speed the victory than the actual strength of the Picts. And these, dismounting from their horses, gave chase to the fugitives and indiscriminately butchered all they could catch.
36. Alpin was taken in the flight and, his hands bound behind his back, was led to a nearby village, henceforth famous for his death, where he was beheaded. Posterity calls this place, using the Scottish language, Pasalpin, which means “The Death of Alpin.” The victors affixed his head to a pole as a token of their victory and brought it to Camelodunum, where they hung it from a gallows on the highest part of the city wall. The Scottish survivors of this loss abandoned Horestia and hurried off to Argyll, where they chose Kenneth MacAlpin as king in his father’s place. The year in which Kenneth succeeded to the throne was the fourth of Alpin’s reign, and the year of Christian piety 834. The Pictish people. overjoyed by such a fine victory, and particularly their nobility, answered King Brudus’ summons and gathered at Camelodunum to thank God Almighty with their pious prayers. There, after the traditional rites had been performed amidst general rejoicing, they laid their hands on Christ’s Gospels and the statues of the saints, and swore they would not cease fighting until the impious Scottish nation, which they were assured was the object of divine wrath, was wholly exterminated. By common consent they ordained that henceforth, if any man should mention peace or making a pact with this inhuman nation, it would cost him his head. There were not lacking some elders of the people who disapproved of this oath and ordinance, urging that this prosperity should be used with modesty. But they were administered a foul thrashing by some youthful hotheads, and were rudely evicted from the church in which the meeting was being held. Reported to the Scots, these things did not make them downcast, but rather served as a provocation. For they took the arrogant mistreatment of those elders, and the fact that the Picts were not displaying wisdom amidst their prosperity, as a great omen of their own future success and the great price the entire Pictish nation was destined to pay.
37. In the following summer the Picts assembled great forces to fight the Scots, but while thew were on the march a quarrel arose over a very trifling dispute which divided nearly their entire army into opposing camps. Insults led to blows, and blows to much bloodshed, which could not be ended by the authority of the king and great men of the realm before daybreak. On the following night King Brudus summoned his elders and consulted about ending the feud. And, when they had debated the thing back and forth until dawn without coming to any conclusion, they broke off their Scottish expedition, and were obliged to return home. Brudus survived for scarce three months after this abortive venture. For he was grief-stricken that everything appeared to be going amiss, contrary to his desire, and contracted a lingering disease which consumed his body, so that he died. After the death of Brudus the Picts, lest they suffer some loss their leaderless condition, the quarrel not yet being resolved, appointed the dead king’s brother Druskenus as their ruler. While living as a private citizen, he had had greatly exerted himself to put an end to their domestic strife. Ascending the throne, he immediately tried to settle that domestic strife by summoning the parties to a hearing, and began to deal with the reasons for the quarrel, its consequent injuries, and the reparations to be made for these. While the Picts were intent on these things, certain noble young Scotsmen, aggrieved that King Alpin’s head continued to hang without burial, pretended to be Picts (for they were well-versed in that nation’s language) and made their way to Camelodunum, pretending to be merchants. There they remained for several days, and, seizing an opportunity, in the thick of the night they removed the head from the walls and ran off homeward. Then, enclosed in a leaden container and escorted by a long procession of priests, King Kenneth, and many noblemen, it was carried to Iona and buried together with the remainder of his body among the sacred tombs of our kings. King Kenneth gave these men lands and ample gifts for having risked their lives to return Alpin’s head from the walls of Camelodunum to their native land, thereby relieving the Scots of great shame, so that the deeds of brave men would not go unrewarded.
38. Afterwards he turned his attention to the defense of the realm, and increased the garrisons of the forts and strongholds nearest the Picts. And, so that the young men of Scotland might be constantly under arms, he commanded that they stand ready to withstand all enemy incursions. But many Scottish nobles were minded to protect what was their own rather than attack the Picts with any further warfare, since they had recently suffered such a great catastrophe at their hands. Others were of the opinion that they should feign a warlike posture but to refrain from any movement against the Picts until Scotland’s damaged strength had been repaired, at which time it would be possible for King Kenneth to attack the Pictish kingdom with his renewed forces and avenge his father’s death without incurring any great danger, and bring this war to a happy conclusion. Although in holding this contradictory opinion they were far outnumbered and enjoyed less prestige, they greatly endeared themselves to their king. Nevertheless, so that there would be no dissent concerning a policy he had already made up his mind to follow, he retained the good-will of them all, partly by adopting a scheme of shared governance, and partly by his remarkable largesse towards all the great men of Scotland. Without any talk of peace, the three following years were spent in raids and incursions against the enemy, without any great loss of life. Then, in the fourth year of his reign, Kenneth convened a parliament of his nobles considering launching an attack on the kingdom of the Picts and avenging King Alpin’s death. He said that they needed to consult for their honor, and that, in doubtful situations, a nation born for wars should not rest idle when it had the opportunity to fight in a pious cause. The time was at hand to assemble their forces, lead them against the Picts, and attack the kingdom they had wrongfully possessed for so many years. Their good faith, their honor, and their love of their nation (to which they all were indebted for their lives and fortunes), all urged this. In a parliament convened for this purpose, Kenneth made a speech to the assembled multitude, urging these or similar things, but he could no more fire their minds for war than if he had attempted to urge them to do entirely unmanly things. For the recent slaughter, in which Alpin had died by Pictish arms, had quite chilled their enthusiasm for war.
39. After Kenneth had attempted to sway his nation’s elders to his way of thinking, but had failed to make any headway, he devised a previously unheard-of device to fire their minds for the war upon which he had decided. First he command them to join him on the following day at the same place, so that they might continue their debate. In the evening, he pleasantly invited the nobles present at the parliament to a banquet in the palace, which they continued until late at night. Then they went to bed and easily fell into a deep slumber. In the middle of the night, at the king’s bidding, individual men simultaneously entered into each of their bedchambers dressed in costumes of fish-skin, still retaining their scales. Each of them held in one hand a staff of rotten wood (for, like the scales of the fish, these glowed in the dark, not without terror for those who beheld them), and in the other a large steer’s horn, which, when it came time to speak, would make his voice sound very otherworldly. At their strange sight the half-awake nobles, unsure whether they were dreaming, were terrified and maintained a cowedk silence. Suddenly deep and more than human voices intoned that they were angels sent to announce to the Scottish nobility that they must heed King Kenneth. His requests were just, he was rightfully seeking to regain his ancestral kingdom from the Picts, a people doomed soon to suffer a most bitter catastrophe as a stroke of divine vengeance. Such was God’s will, which could not be opposed by any human devices or powers. These things having been said, each of the “angels” hid his staff beneath his clothing, and stuffed his fish-skin into his pocket, so that he seemed to the onlookers to have vanished, along with his brightness.
40. Those who had witnessed these things spent the rest of the night lying fearfully abed. At dawn the nobles met together, telling what they had seen and heard in the night. All were impressed by the similarity of the time, costume, voice, and words, and exclaimed that what they had seen was not a dream, but rather a true thing, and this convinced them all that this had been a heavenly oracle. So they speedily related these things to the king, and steadfastly maintained that they had been advised by heaven that the war against the Picts must be continued. The king’s reply was that he had had a similar vision in his sleep, but that they should keep silent about the matter, lest by boasting overmuch they perhaps offend their heavenly Father, Who was so well-disposed towards them. They might talk about this oracle when by God’s grace the war had come to a happy ending. They all approved their king’s sentiment. Next royal heralds commanded that all the necessities of war be gathered: provisions, pack-horses, baggage, and all manner of weaponry, and finally that they should gather their forces and lead them into Pictish territory. The Scottish elders industriously obeyed their king’s orders, as delivered by the heralds. And so a host was assembled of a size that no living man had seen in earlier times, and, led by Kenneth, it burst into Vicomagia. Druskenus came against them with an army made up of Picts and English mercenaries, slipped past them in the night, and encamped between them and their own lands.
41. The day had barely dawned when the opposing battle-lines were so red-hot with anger that they did not await the signal for battle nor their leaders’ commands before coming to blows. Their headlong rush into battle was a hindrance to the Picts, but far more so the retreat of the English to a nearby mountain, for they were found wanting in faithfulness no less than in courage. This caused a shout to resound throughout the Scottish army, which deprived the Picts of much of their high spirits. Druskenus sent a horseman to induce the deserters to return to the fight, offering large promises, but he received the reply that it was not a mark of English martial virtue to enter into a fight with no command from their leader and no orderly disposition. The Picts were fools to offer themselves to their enemy for the killing. It was a point of the military art (on which an army’s safety depends) to avoid battle when there is no hope of victory. And so, perceiving that the Pictish van had been deprived of both its wings, and was being attacked by hostile arms from the rear, the English who had undertaken to fight in the foremost gradually abandoned their station. Observing this, the Scots laid on all the harder, until the enemy could not withstand their onslaught and were compelled to turn tail. Kenneth pressed the scattered fugitives, sending forth his horse and foot, and commanding them to kill everybody and take no prisoners: when they surrendered, his men should be mindful of the unjust and felonious murder of his noble father Alpin. In their flight the Picts headed for the river Forth (this was in their rear, at no great distance from the battlefield). When they arrived there, the current prevented their escape, and those who did not hurl themselves into the water were put to the sword by their pursuing enemy.
42. While the opposing armies were thus engaged, the English companies departed after watching the fight a little while, and vanished from the sight of the Scottish behined some interposed hills. When King Druskenus first saw that his men were thinking of flight, he mounted a swift he kept in readiness for any emergency, and with a few companions rescued himself from danger. After inflicting great slaughter on their enemies, the Scots were brought back by the recall signal, and, feaarful lest the English flight denote some trickery, they spent the night under arms on the battlefield. On the following day the victors shared out the loot in accordance with ancient tradition, and on the following day, lavishly enriched by the spoils, they were sent home by King Kenneth. A few days later the Pictish king sent representatives to Kenneth humbly suing for peace. The king scarcely rejected his enemies and readily agreed to their requests, but only on condition that his ancestral Pictish kingdom be given back to him. This was refused by the Picts, who preferred the worst of evils to Scottish government, and this was the reason why the war between their peoples was waged with greater cruelty than ever. In the year following this battle, Kenneth gained an easy and bloodless victory over the Picts of Horestia and Otholinia. When they had sworn their allegiance and fealty, he gave them laws and magistrates. Then, having peopled their castles with his garrisons, he hastened on with all his forces to conquer Vicomagia. While he was dealing with the inhabitants of Vicomagia concerning their acceptance of him as their king, negotiating through intermediaries, it was reported that, in the king’s absence, the men of Horestia and Otholinia had treacherously killed the Scotsmen left among them, down to the last man. Infuriated, Kenneth forgot Vicomagia, and returned to Otholinia, where everything was given over to fire and the sword, and in their eagerness for plunder his men allowed no man of Pictish blood to survive in that district. Soon Horestia was stricken by no less a blow, so as to serve mankind as a warning how rash and impious a thing it is to violate one’s sworn faith and repay kings’ grace and kindness with deceit and disloyalty.
43. While these cruel and inhumane things were being done by blood-stained hands, Druskenus enlisted an army composed of everybody in the Pictish nation capable of bearing arms, with no distinction made between the sexes, so that he might either ward off the harm or die a brave and honorable death. He marched forth with a huge multitude to meet the Scots, and, having passed through several districts, he came to Scone, a village made memorable to posterity by the ensuing battle, where today there is an abbey of no small repute, with a large population of canons belong to the Augustine Order, noble for their uprightness and learning, and there he came across King Kenneth with his Scottish forces. On the next day, when both sides were readying themselves for the fight, Druskenus, who preferred to sue for peace while his condition was as yet intact, rather than after suffering defeat in battle (should that occur), sent a herald to Kenneth asking permission to meet with him prior to the battle, for he intended to offer certain things of advantage to himself and the Scottish people. In order not to have it said that he had denied a reasonable request, Kenneth did not refuse a conference. So, while both their armies were drawn up for battle, both kings came forth into the field, accompanied by an identical small number of armed nobles, as had been agreed by means of heralds. Then the Pict spoke first:
44. “One cannot help attributing it to God’s favor towards yourself, invincible King Kenneth, that I, the ruler of the Picts, whose power has never previously been inferior to that of the Scots, have come to you humbly suing for peace, after having enjoyed so many and such various successes in war. For, having been bested so often by Scottish arms, and so often having bested them, we have at length come to the point where we must either make peace with you on conditions of your choosing, or fight to the bitter end, to the destruction of both ourselves and the Scots. And a number of things move me to seek some creditable end to this accursed war, without any further bloodshed: the kinships between our two nations, both ancient and new; the long-maintained good-will of our ancestors; our frequent joint campaigns against our mutual enemies. And finally, there is the consideration that, if we persist in fighting, we are undoubtedly destined to incur our final end, as our enemies witness us weakening each other with our mutual woundings, and are bound to drive us out of Albion, to our ignominy. There is no consideration which compel us to fight (if fight we must). All the wealth of the Picts are no sufficient recompense for King Alpin and all those brave Scotsmen recently lost in our war, and, in the same way, all the fortune of Scotland is an unworthy reparation for our men who were killed in that single battle fought by King Feredethus.
45. “And so it would be best if the Scots would rest content with their ancient districts, and we with ours, and if we were to live in peace and quiet, as once did our ancestors. Therefore, in my opinion, it is best to treat with you concerning peace and your good fortune, for which you should greatly hope. War’s outcome is doubtful. Fortune often bestows victory on those who stand the nearer to danger, but assured peace is a safe and excellent thing. At this time, this is within your power, but victory resides in the power of Fortune, and our affairs and all their vicissitudes go to show how fickle she is and how quickly she asks for the return of what she has granted when she was favorable. For you behold us, who gained a fine victory over a Scottish army a few years ago when Fortune greatly smiled upon us, now all but defeated, and obliged to humbly sue for peace. Is it guaranteed to anyone that Fortune will behave differently in this war than she has to us? Surely she has issued you no promise of a successful outcome, something she has never done before for any nation or people? Whom has she not sometime deceived, smiling on everything yet most to be feared when she has been most generous? Thus you should let yourself be persuaded that a peace achieved, to your great glory, before battle has been joined is preferable to the victory in battle for which you hope, lest something go awry and fickle Fortune ask for the return of the glory you have already gained, not without great damage to your affairs and your reputation, overturning it in a short moment. But my wish (which I state all the more gladly because this opinion is no less advantageous for your people than for my own, and is in fact considerably more glorious for yours) that you give your consent to the penalty we impose on ourselves for having continued this war: that Horestia and Otholinia henceforth be districts of Scotland, with the Picts resting content with territories they presently possess. This, I believe, is the best way in which you can gain great renown for your virtue, and you will be remembered by posterity as the most outstanding of all the Scottish kings known to history.”
46. King Kenneth replied, “The examples of our ancestors ought to teach us how weak are human affairs, and how shifting are the decrees of Fortune, to which our affairs are subject and are tossed about with great change. But I believe that in the situation Fortune is far more to be feared by the Picts than the Scots, for they are bent on joining impious battle with the Scots in order to cheat the progeny of their King Hungus out of his kingdom. I should, perhaps, admit that I was impious and arrogant in refusing the Picts the peace they request, a peace they themselves might have granted the Scots, should they have been shattered in the war, if the Picts were inspired by our ancient friendship, our treaties old and new, entered into with solemn oaths, and if reverence for their good faith inspired them to return my ancestral kingdom to me. By that means (ignoring any promises concerning Horestia and Otholinia, which are our districts and inhabited by our settlers), our two nations could be combined into one, subject to the same laws, and thus they could cement the peace by an enduring agreement. But since the situation is far different, with the Picts binding themselves by an extreme oath never to grant us peace, and the Scots unanimously agreeing that peace should neither be granted nor accepted until the kingdom of the Picts is yielded up to myself, its just heir, if you sincerely desire peace you must first agree to our demands and abdicate the Pictish throne, which is mine, and ensure that the Pictish elders lay down their arms and hail me as their king, surrendering all their strongholds into my hands. But if this seems like a heavy price, you must remain in arms and fight us in a battle for which, as you see, we are ready, being in high hopes that God Almighty will give us a favorable outcome, in accordance with law and right.” And so, nothing having been accomplished, they left the conference and returned to their own men.
47. Then a shout went up from all sides that this matter was not to be settled otherwise but by the sword, and this sad war between neighbors and kinsmen should have no outcome other than what Fortune saw fit to grant. Kenneth instructed his men to join battle with a will and to endure with determination: on this day it was to be decided whether the Scots were to dictate laws to the Picts, or Picts to Scotsmen, and the reward for victory would be the often-sought kingdom of the Picts, lasting glory, and dominion over their enemies. On the other hand, their punishment for taking flight would be the downfall of their nation, an unhappy death, and disgrace and ill repute in the eyes of posterity. When Kenneth had said these things, he divided his army into two wings and a van, and stationed archers and slingshot-men in both. Behind them were men who used spears and lances, and then those equipped with axes, and in the rear followed the remainder of his host, protected by a variety of weapons. Bar, a man outstanding for his martial skill in those days, was set in charge of the first rank. The second line was led by Dongallus, and the third by the king’s brother Donald. Kenneth followed with a company of horse, ready to ride to any endangered point. Then his bugler gave the signal for battle. This was met by such a shouting of men entering the fray that, while the battle was scarcely yet joined, many Picts started to think about flight. Druskenus promised great gifts, and, sometimes relying on reproaches and sometimes on gentle encouragement that they should lay on with greater energy, and by displaying great spirit wherever he went, accomplished a great deal by way of relieving them of their panic.
48. A very heated battle followed. The Pictish women, seeing their menfolk wounded, filled everything with their shrieks and were less of a help than a hindrance to those engaged on the fight, with the result that their right wing, where most of the women were located, was thrust back and obliged to give way. Then Kenneth sent a company that had not yet been engaged in the fight to attack their exposed van from the rear. The result was that the when the Picts, afflicted by much slaughter, had no remaining hope of killing their enemy, nor the power to do so, those who still had the strength to flee threw away their arms and ran away. Such a huge number of the slain, together with their weapons, lay where the battle was first begun that the Scots were obliged to make their way over heaps of bodies and all manner of armament, with the result that many went astray and became intermingled with companies of fleeing Picts, and so were cruelly slain by their own fellow-countrymen. Seeing this trouble, Kenneth sound the recall. Then he formed companies out of the soldiers he collected and assigned each a captain, so that they might pursue the runaways while preserving due military order and put to the sword those they could run down. For the remainder of that day and the following night, he himself remained on the battlefield, together with a choice band of fighting men. The Scottish captains tirelessly followed the king’s orders and subjected the Picts to a deadly massacre wherever they found them. King Druskenus fled with a select band of Picts, but when he was checked in his course by the uncrossable river Tay, he became exposed to enemy harm and, together with all his fighting band, was killed by the pursuing companies of Scotsmen. They say that on that day the Scots fought the Picts seven times, at various places, and that the victory went to them at all of them. On the following day, the Scottish companies rejoined King Kenneth, bearing rich plunder. Included with these were the coat-of-arms of King Druskenus together with his other royal gear, which a little while later were publicly consecrated in the church of St. Columba on the island of Iona, there to remain for posterity as memorials of that great victory. Three days later, after all the booty had been distributed among the soldiers in accordance with our national custom, the Scottish nobility clustered about King Kenneth, offering their congratulations and begging him, now that he had finished this great war, to relax and grant his soldiers leave to go home and refresh themselves.
49. But Kenneth, thinking he should not desist until the war had been brought to a final conclusion, assembled his host and thus began to speak: “When a victory has been gained over the enemy but the war not yet finished, it is the business of a good commander, wishing the best for his safety and that of his nation, not to rest until he has either made friends out of his conquered enemies, or has destroyed them utterly. If any man were to prefer a policy of allowing his enemy, when they have lost their resources and suffered a great slaughter, a cessation of arms until they have regained their strength, at least in my opinion he is bringing down on himself something for which he will later pay a manifold penalty. And now, to discuss our present danger, the Picts’ situation is currently in a bad way, as you are aware: their strength is shattered and reduced to the point that it is now within our power to destroy them utterly. One would shrink from such an action, if we had any means of befriending that people, provoked by many reversals, while at the same time preserving our honor. But the Picts are so stiff-necked and eager for revenge that, as long as they continue to exist, they will keep stored up on their hearts the memory of whatever harm they have suffered by our arms in this present war. Hence I am convinced that no men of Pictish blood will henceforth be loyal friends of the Scots. And so, since we are unable to convert the Picts, newly subjected to an atrocious massacre at our hands, into our friends, I am of the opinion that, if we are unwilling to jeopardize ourselves and our security, all of this nation must be entirely eradicated, by killing not only each and every one of their men, but also their women and children, lest someday, when we least expect it, their descendants take up arms to avenge their forefathers’ death, not without the endangerment of our own kingdom.”
50. They all approved this motion, even though it struck many as excessively cruel, either because they realized that such was the king’s will, or because many believe this was in the best interest of Scotland’s security. They immediately raged against all Pictish districts with such bloodthirsty bestiality that, with the exception of about two thousand men who took refuge in England, all those of the Pictish nation where found outside Camelodunum and a very few strongholds were subject to a dire death, and no reverence for religion, sex, or age, availed them in avoiding the savagery of this massacre. Having carefully weighed the merits of each of them, Kenneth shared out the Pictish regions thus occupied among the Scottish noblemen, giving them new names taken either from their new chieftains or from a promontory, river, or other conspicuous feature (in accordance with our ancient national custom), so that the memory of the Picts would perish together with themselves. Horestia was bestowed on two brothers of outstanding virtue, Angusianus and Mernanus, and from them one part took the name of Merne, and the other part was called Angus, a name which has lasted for posterity. In our own day families exist among our countrymen descended from these men in a long line. The region hitherto called Otholinia changed its name to Fife to honor Fife Duff, a man who distinguished himself by his martial valor in the recent war against the Picts. Between the church of St. Kenneth and the river Leven there remain traces of a castle protected by seven walls and seven ditches, where, after his death, that noble man’s descendants dwelt for long centuries. Lothian retained its old name, altered in no respect even in our own days, so highly regarded was the noble memory of the former King Lothus of the Picts. Kenneth bestowed a castle in this region on Bar, on whose virtue and counsel he greatly relied in breaking the Picts’ strength, and posterity called this fortification Dunbar, which means “Bar’s Castle.” From that man descended the right noble clan called Dunbar after its progenitor, which continues to exist in great numbers in our day. Mar has produced many earls in a long line of descent, some distinguished for holding offices both sacred and secular, and a great number of other men conspicuous in the kingdom of Scotland for the glory of their accomplishments. The names of some valleys have been altered, while other original forms survive. A little earlier, inhabitants had already changed the name of Ordolucia to Annandale, from the river Annan which flows through it. Tweedale and Clydesdale took their names from the rivers Tweed and Clyde. And for similar reasons many Pictish districts, villages, towns, and castles lost their old names and took new ones conflated out of Scottish and Pictish elements, as evidence that the Picts had been driven out by Scottish arms.
51. When these things had been done, Kenneth took a great number of men and great equipage of war, and prepared to besiege Camelodunum. For amidst the turmoil of war, the wives and children of the Pictish nobility had taken refuge there, thinking that, since the city was held by a strong garrison, it would serve to protect them. So when Camelodunum had been encircled, by Kenneth’s order they attempted to induce a voluntary surrender. The citizenry steadfastly refused, hurling many insults at our men for continuing their butchery of the helpless, as if nature had so created them that they were satisfied by nothing other than the final extinction of their enemies. The siege went on for several days. Then the Scottish soldiers heaped a great amount of wood and various other materials alongside the city walls, with the intent of filling its deep ditches. When the beleaguered city began to feel hunger, its citizens sent ambassadors requesting a three days’ truce so that they might consider making a surrender. Kenneth, not imagining that the Picts’ requests concealed any deceit, agreed, and commanded his soldiers to refrain from doing any damage to the city for three days. But in the meantime the Picts made all preparations for an excursion. Camelodunum had an old gate, so clogged with mud and stones that for centuries it had been impassable. In the dead of night, observing great silence, the Picts opened it by industriously removing the stones and mud, and in the third watch of night they issued forth from the city in fighting order, and cruelly killed the Scottish sentinels, who were expecting noting less than a sally. Then they suddenly attacked other watchmen, and came close to the royal encampment, moving as fast as the commotion they were making. There they inflicted foul slaughter in the half-light. But when the day dawned and the Picts were making their way back to the city by the same route they had come, they were attacked by their pursuers and suffered dire losses. Camelodunum would have been taken then and there, had not catapults, bowshots, and a great number of stones thrown down from the higher battlements of the city walls, prevented the Scotsmen from entering the city. More than six hundred Scotsmen were lost during that sally.
52. But new sentinels were posted where the previous ones had been stationed, the uproar was silenced, and, while all his men were cursing the treachery of the Picts for betraying their trust, Kenneth took a public oath that he would not depart before Camelodonum had been destroyed by fire and steel. Then he made frequent attempts to storm the city, albeit in vain, for the Picts did good work in protecting their walls. The result was that the siege dragged on for four months. Finally, those within the city were so greatly suffering from want of all things that its wretched citizens abstained from no foul kind of food. But even when their extreme need was upon them and no hope for the city’s survival remained, whoever spoke of surrender was killed by the stubborn populace. For Kenneth’s oath, of which they were not unaware, bred such furious determination in their minds. Finally, after the city had been exhausted by every manner of evil thanks to the work of the Scottish soldiers, and when the ditches had been industriously filled with the wood and other material gathered for that purpose, Kenneth chose six hundred soldiers out of his army and ordered them to assemble in a nearby woods from which they might come forth, while he was mounting a sharp attack on one part of the city, they might assault the opposite part with ladders. As ordered, at dawn on the following day, while Kenneth was energetically attacking the city, they speedily sprang forth from their concealment, set up their ladders on the opposite walls, and entered the city. Then they broke open one of its gates, and part of the army burst into the city where they were least expected. Terrified by this double evil, the townsmen abandoned their walls and gathered in their market square, where for a little while they attempted to resist their enemies as long as their strength held out. Great slaughter was worked there by the enemy, irate because they had not forgotten the deaths they had recently suffered thanks to Pictish perfidy. Like madmen, the Scottish nobles ordered them to destroy the city immediately and exterminate everybody of Pictish blood. While the killing indiscriminately raged against priests, children, matrons, and virgins, a small band of noble women went to Kenneth, tearfully begging for his intervention and protection, pleading him to command his soldiers to refrain from killing women. But such was his furious rage that they were given no more grace than the rest of the multitude, and were put to the sword straightway. In the end, the brutality of the victors rampaged through the city to the point that they did not allow a single surviving man or woman to weep over the final ashes of their nation. Then the walls were leveled to the ground, and all buildings both public and private, together with the shrines of the saints, the work of many years, were consumed by fire. Whatever survived the flames was demolished by the enemy in their cruelty. Virtually nothing was left for later ages of what had until just now been a noble city save for ash, heaps of half-burned stones, the foundations of walls, and pavement.
53. At this same time, the Maidens’ Castle was held by a strong Pictish garrison. Hearing of the sack of Camelodunum, they abandoned that stronghold and departed for Northumbria, lest they suffer a similar misfortune. Therefore, with nearly all its population killed off, the kingdom of the Picts ceased to exist in Albion, having been ruled by the Picts for 1571 years. The year in which the kingdom was destroyed was the year of Christ’s Incarnation 839, the year after the Scots’ first arrival in Albion 1433, and the year of Creation 6038. They say that in that year two comets had appeared, both of huge size and frightful to the human eye: one went before the rising sun during the autum, the other before the setting sun in the springtime. And in the night fiery armies with glowing spears were seen to be fighting in the sky, of which one was put to rout and suddenly disappeared. The shepherd’s crook held by the Bishop of Camelodunum suddenly burst into flame while he was sahiyng Mass, and burned so stubbornly that it could not be extinguished by any means. During a spell of fair weather, such a noise of armed men and horses coming together in a fight was heard during broad daylight in the territories of both the Scots and Picts that very many men of both nations were greatly terrified. The professors of divination interpreted these prodigies variously, as they always do, some saying they portended prosperity for the people, and others saying the opposite.
54. After the destruction of the kingdom of the Picts and all its people, Kenneth removed the Stone of Destiny from Argyll, where, as I have related, it had first carefully preserved after Simon Brechus had brought it from Spain to Ireland, and Fergus I from Ireland to Albion, as has been told above, and transported it to Gowrie, previously a district belonging to the Picts. He did this so as to make it, as it were, a sacred symbol that Scottish rule was henceforth to be established there, and he set it up on a high hill at Scone, since it was hard by that village that the final victory over the Picts had been gained, so that those hailed as kings of Scotland might sit upon it as they received their royal insignia. Some maintain that that popular rhyme,
Unless the Fates are faithless found,
and prophet’s voice be vain,
Where’er this monument be found
the Scottish race shall reign.
was first carved on the stone by command of Kenneth. Meanwhile, when the exiled Picts not consumed by the massacre could by no urgings induce the English, caught up in their own domestic disturbances, to declare war ont he Scots, some of them went to Denmark, and others to Norway, to recruit auxiliaries, if they could, and restore their lost kingdom in Albion. Others chose to live among the English, seeking a livelihood by some manual art or by military service. Henceforth, as long as Kenneth lived, the Scots enjoyed peace, troubled by no war.
55. In addition to the notable deeds I have described, by which Kenneth had destroyed his enemies and extended his realm to the point that what had been its border was now located at the nation’s center, and earned immortal praise for all ages, he did other things, by which he demonstrated a happy talent for handling matters both sacred and secular, in addition to his military achievement. For he served the common advantage by reducing to summary form an immense collection of Scottish laws, clearing away those that were superflous and without use, and he added certain new ones by authority of himself and the national fathers, henceforth to be used by judges and jurisconsults in performing their public dugies. I consider it worthwhile to mention some of those still remembered in our age, so that my readers might more readily understand at what time these were intr0duced, the degree to which that age, not entirely unaware of law both divine and human, observed right and equity in its own way, and how much much it differed from the world’s other peeoples in its laws and customs. The chief points of the surviving laws are these.
✤ Individual experts in the law should exist in individual districts, as has always been our custom.
✤ The sons of these men should learn the laws, beginning at an early age.
✤ These men shall be the only guardians of the tablets of the law, and of the legal documents of kings and noblemen.
✤ If any one of these should be convicted of perjury, he should die by hanging and be denied burial.
✤ Hang the thief, behead the murderer.
✤ Either drown or bury alive a woman convicted of a capital crime.
✤ If any man should blaspheme the name of God, the saints, the king, or his clan, cut out his tongue.
✤ If a man bear false witness against his neighbor, take away his sword and shun him.
✤ Those accused of capital crimes should be tried by juries of seven, nine, eleven, thirteen, fifteen, or even a larger number of men of proven good faith, as long as the number of jurors is an odd one.
56. ✤ Use the sword to punish robbers, plunderers, and ravagers.
✤ Runaways, layabouts, idlers, clowns and men of this kind are to be administered a whipping.
✤ A wife is not to pay the penalty for her husband’s crime. But if a woman commits a wrong with her husband’s knowledge, he is guilty of deceit.
✤ Visit the same penalty on a malefactor’s concubine that you impose on him.
✤ If a man ruins a virgin’s honor, he shall be put to death, unless the injured girl claims him for a husband.
✤ If someone debauches another man’s wife, but not against her will, let them both suffer death. If the woman was raped, the man who has done wrong to his neighbor will be condemned to the axe, but the woman will be deemed innocent.
✤ If a son has harmed his parents with his tongue, foot, or hand, hang him by the offending part of his body and deny him burial.
✤ A murderer, a mute, are a son who shows himself an ingrate to his father shall not be an heir
✤ Wizards, conjurors of the dead, familiars of evil demons, and those who ask the help of the same, must all be burned.
✤ Do not sow a crop in the ground unless it is free of harmful seeds.
✤ If a man wittingly allows fertile land to be damaged by harmful weeds, fine him one cow for the first offence, and ten for the second. For the third, deny him the use of the field.
✤ Return a stray cow to its master, a thief-taker (commonly called a tocioderach), or a priest. If you keep it more than three days, you will be guilty of theft.
✤ If a man find a neighbor’s lost property, he must announce its discovery by means of the town crier. Otherwise he will be punished as a thief.
✤ If a man strike an opposing litigant in a courtroom, he shall fail in his case and the man he struck will prevail.
✤ If cattle come together and one should chance to be killed, and the one that killed it cannot be identified, you must regard the cow with horns as responsible. And, hearing of the dead animal, its owner must pay reparations to his neighbor.
✤ If a pig eat its piglets, stone it to death, and do not eat its meat.
✤ You may kill with impunity a pig that eats your crop or ruins your planted field.
✤ You may take any other domestic animals which have harmed things growing on your land, as long as you repay their owner for their loss.
57. These are secular regulations pertaining to the common people. Others that have come down to us deal with religion.
✤ You must wholeheartedly venerate altars, churches, statues of the gods, chapels, priests, and all men of holy orders.
✤ You must hold in high honor the feasts, solemn days, fasts, vigils, and all manner of rituals which human piety has appointed for Christ the King and his most sacred service.
✤ Let it be death to harm one of Christ’s priests by word or deed.
✤ If a murdered man chance to be buried in a field, for seven years leave it fallow.
✤ Bury a man with an estate proportionate to your means.
✤ Convey the body of a distinguished man, or a man notable for his public service, with a mournful procession.
✤ Let him be accompanied by two horsemen. One, mounted on a white horse, should wear the deceased’s armor. The other, mounted on a black horse, should be clad in mourning with a black veil over his face. When these two have led the procession to the church, the one dressed in black should turn away from the altar, loudly proclaim the death of his master while the congregation curses him, and swiftly return whence he came. The other should ride straight up to the altar, take off the armor, and present it and the horse to the priest standing at the tomb of the dead man’s noble tomb, thus signifying that his master is enjoining immortal life and a new homeland of everlasting brightness. (Many men regarded this funeral rite for noble men as irreligious, and a later age abolished it, replacing the presentation of the horse and armor to the priest with an offering of five pounds sterling.)
58. Having duly instructed his people these laws and many more, a part of which have been lost in the mists of time, or more likely nullified by royal decree, Kenneth ruled them with great prosperity until the end of his life. He translated the episcopal which had previously been located at the Pictish town of Abernethy, now destroyed by steel and fire, to the church of St. Regulus. Henceforth this town was called St. Andrews, and after a little while those who held that holy office were called the primates of Scotland. For the kingdom of Scotland had not yet been divided into dioceses, as it is now, but any of its bishops, whose sanctity of life made reverend to all men, was allowed to exercise his authority wherever he chanced to be, without distinction. This manner of administering the Scottish Church lasted until the days of Malcolm III, when he, moved by heavenly inspiration (as shall be told in its proper place) founded the holy see of Murthlac. Ever since its foundation, over a long series of bishops and down to the day of this writing, the see of St. Andrews, has been held inn great reverence by men for its innocence and piety towards God (they say there have been thirty-six bishops, some of them canonized), that nowhere else in the world has the worship of true religion, conjoined with great moral rectitude, been more brilliant.
59. I come back to Kenneth. After the elimination of the Picts, his kingdom was bounded by Northumbria and Hirta (the farthest-flung of the Hebrides island), and one side by the Irish Sea and on the other by the German Sea. At this king, having been illustrious throughout his life, died of an excess of phlegm at Forteviot, in the twentieth year of his rule over Scotland and the year of Christ our Lord 858. His body was carried in elaborate estate to Iona, where Fergus, Hirtus, and all the most brave kings of Scotland reposed. Kenneth’s brother Donald replaced him, a man of very different character than his brother. Although while he lived as private citizen he did nothing to reveal this, out of fear lest he offend a king held in reverence by one and all, he had ruled for scarce two years when his in his monstrous wantonness in whoring and the luxury of his diet, in his maintaining horses for pleasure rather than war, as well as hounds and birds for hunting (appointing very base-born servants as their keepers), in his neglect of guarding his strongholds, as if he had no fear of enemy harm, had seduced nearly the entire nation into unbridled lack of self-control, with the moderation of their ancient forefathers abandoned. Nonetheless some leading men, who were devoted to ancient Scotch virtue and thrift, were moved by the indignity of the thing. Disliking the obscene habits of king and people as constituting a public danger, they approached the king in a peaceful way and urged, advised, and begged that he consider what a ruinous and unhappy end often follows after pleasure-seeking, how many private and public men that plague destroys, what a deadly bane it is, how many risks it entails, what results, and into what unspeakable criminality it drives men. And so, if he had any concern for the public safety and that of himself, he ought to abandon his outrages and renounce his toadies or banish them elsewhere, and show himself to be a just and pious ruler. He needed to imitate his brother, the founder of their empire, rather than Sardanapalus, who once forfeited the kingdom of Assyria together with his own life, because of his over-indulgence in women and voluptuousness.
60. After the leading men of the kingdom had frequently drummed these or similar things into the royal ears and understood they were making themselves disliked, but that the king was not changing for better, they sadly abandoned the project. Soon the young men of Scotland, scorning their elders’ warnings and casting their shame aside, joined Donald in hurling themselves into all manner of wrongdoing, so that no modesty or limit to their evil ways remained. Rather, as their felonies grew worse, crime instead of justice, contempt of divine worship instead of piety, were everywhere to be seen. Meanwhile the remnants of the Picts living in England had heard of this Scottish wantonness and the quarrels it was engendering. Out of their eagerness to recover their kingdom in Albion they urged Osbret and Ella (the two most powerful English kings at the time) to wage war against the Scots. They swore binding oaths promising that they and their posterity would henceforth submit to English rule and become their clients, if only the Scots were expelled and the Pictish territories were returned to them. Osbret and Ella were keenly intelligent kings, and when they learned how immoral and soft a life the Scots were leading, they were overcome with a boundless desire to get their hands on regions long possessed by the Picts, so they did not reject their requests. Nonetheless, they said they did not wish to enter into a war until English affairs were settled to their satisfaction and a new peace-treaty had been arranged between the Britons and Saxons. Then, having made secret arrangements between themselves, the English and Britons quickly joined forces and marched against the Scots. Crossing the Tweed into Mar (formerly called Deira), there they encamped. Soon King Osbret (to whom the supreme command had been entrusted) sent a herald demanding of Donald that he return the districts which the Scots had unlawfully taken from the Picts to the survivors of that nation he had with himself: otherwise he would have for his enemies the Britons and English no less than the Picts, because they had undertaken to champion the Pictish cause by right of their ancient friendship.
61. Amazed by this message and having no idea what to do, Donald first looked about for somewhere to hide. Then, being warned by his nobles that he should not show himself to his people as fearful and expose his kingship to utmost peril, he heard the call to arms, and ordered that a levy be held in all the districts of Scotland. And so he met the enemy as they approached Jedburgh, bent on a fight. A great battle was joined, and Osbret was driven into the nearby hills, his forces overwhelmed and scattered, and with considerable casualties suffered on both sides. Emboldened by his victory, Donald imagined that he was freed from enemy danger by that victory. He marched to Tweedmouth, having crossed the river, and there he came across some cargo ships that had previously been beached there, laden with wine, wheat, various kinds of foodstuff, weaponry, much expensive furniture, and all things of use for an army. He attacked the ships, took them with ease, and immediately despoiled and fired them. But the spoils, shared out among his soldiers to as to make their king popular, did more to harm the Scots than could their enemy. For Donald, that egregious belly-worshiper and fornicator, had corrupted his entire entire army by his hateful morals. Adopting the king as their model, the Scottish youth kept their camp constantly full of gluttony, strong drink, and whores. They were always devoted to dicing and drinking-bouts. So, as happens, quarrels ensued, factions developed, and the occasional murder was committed, and thanks to these vices the army of Scotland was transformed into a congeries of drunkards and plate-lickers. This disregard of military discipline invited the enemy to attack.
62. For when Osbret heard that the Scots were preoccupied with their pleasures and enervated by luxury, he rebuilt his army and, faster than anybody imagined possible, came storming against them. He attacked the royal camp in broad daylight, where Englishmen drawn up and ready for killing butchered helpless Scotsmen, sleeping off their drunkenness, as if they were so many cattle. A terrible outcry arose, partly of the dying and partly of those attempting to escape, and this filled the half-asleep men with great trepidation. The result was great woe for the Scots: some of them vainly hurled themselves against the enemy, others freely threw down their weapons, and some abandoned the camp and departed at breakneck speed over steep hills and along winding paths, wherever their misfortune chanced to lead them. More than twenty thousand Scotsman were lost in that deadly catastrophe. Immersed in sleep and drunkenness, King Donald was taken prisoner and put on display as a general laughingstock, and all the nobility that survived the slaughter was taken along with him and thrown in chains. Report of this defeat spread through the districts of Scotland, saying that King Donald was a prisoner, the army had been destroyed, with almost no survivors and the few surviving nobles fallen into enemy power, and this filled everything with grief, just as if the kingdom had come into their enemies’ hands. Some railed at Fortune, others cursed Donald’s detestable way of life, and yet others deplored the magnitude of the killing and (as commonly happens) blamed the misfortune on other causes. A large number ran about the public streets asking whoever they met about Donald’s fortune, and that of the elders and their army. Was anything left of Scotland? Where had the English gone after winning the day? What were they preparing? What were they doing?
63. Soon, discovering that the English forces were being lead into Lothian, and the Britons’ into Galloway, and were gaining everything there in a wide swathe, they were filled with a fear greater than any people had ever experienced. Their moans and groans added to the panic, when private losses were announced in individual households and their womenfolk filled everything with their lamentation and howling. The general grieving was so uncontrolled that absolutely no thought was given to protecting their nation against the invaders’ harm. Therefore the English occupied all Scottish districts as far north as the Firth of Forth, and the Britons laid easy claim to all Scottish territory from Cumbria to Sterling. Both nations made cruel use of their victory, killing all the Scotsmen they could catch. Amidst such bestiality, not even Christ’s priests were spared: rather, they suffered the same servile death as everyone else. Now the English had crossed the Firth of Forth and were preparing to march along the Tay into Angus. At the news of these developments, the governors of those regions, who had remained at home, calmed the commotion as best they could and collected all those able to bear arms, creating some semblance of an army. The report of its existence (it was said to be far larger than was in fact the case) prevented the English from crossing the river for a number of days. Up to ten thousand Englishmen were being carried to the opposite shore, of whom more than five thousand were consumed when the force of the current, stirred up by a violent gale, sank their ships. The others barely escaped shipwreck and, having lost their weaponry, returned to Lothian. Beholding this stroke of ill luck and thinking it unsafe to contend with wind and water, Osbret abandoned his project of crossing over into Fife, and decided to lead his victorious army on a land route by way of Sterling, where the river Forth was bridged, into the remaining portion of Scotland.
64. For he had heard the British forces had halted there, after gaining control of all the district’s strongholds. After he arrived there and the allied army of the Britons had joined him, Scottish ambassadors came to him humbly suing for peace, and saying that was scarcely fitting for a very brave man, to whom God’s favor had granted a fair and bloodless victory, to further harass a nation whose powers were shattered and strength ruined, whose ruler and what nobility survived he was holding captive, when as a victor he could justly and honorably grant peace to the vanquished: for him, the peace would be glorious, since they would refuse none of his conditions for piece. He should bear and mind that the Scottish forces had been defeated not by English martial virtue, but rather the had handed themselves to their enemy thanks to their own sloth and most corrupt morals. He should furthermore reflect that Fortune is shifting, and quick to demand back from mortals that which she has granted, if it is not used with moderation. There would be no further glory if he continued to press exhausted men, whom he should know for a fact, if he stubbornly denied them peace on terms of his own dictation, would defend their interests to the bitter end, even if they were obviously failing, and would do nothing that would allow posterity to say they preferred a shameful life to an honorable death. When these things were said at a meeting of the English and Britons, some jeered, but others were of the opinion their request should not be denied: prudent men ought to enjoy their good fortune with moderation, nor should they trust the decrees of that fickle goddess. After gaining a victory and destroying their enemies, they all felt that an honorable peace was preferable to the doubtful outcome of war. The response was given that it pleased the English and British kings to grant the Scots the peace for which they sued (even if it was at that moment possible to exterminate the hated nation) upon the following conditions: that whatever lands the English and Britons had taken from the Scots should henceforth be theirs in accordance with the right of war; the English and Britons should not extend their realms any further; the Scots should retain the other districts taken from the Picts; in the east, the Firth of Forth should mark the boundary between Scottish territory and that of the English and Britons, and henceforth should be called the Scottish Sea. In the west, the river Clyde and the castle Alcluth at its mouth should be ceded to the Britons and henceforth be called Dunbritton; no Scotsman should willing cross the Forth or enter into any British or English territory, on pain of death; if any Scotsman should be driven there by bad weather, he should purchase nothing and take nothing but food and water, and would be free to depart within three days without let or hindrance; the Scots should erect no stronghold in the regions adjoining the English and Britons; they must pay them an annual tribute of a thousand pounds in silver for the next twenty years; as a guarantee they would abide by these terms, they would give surrender the sons of noblemen as hostage, to the number of sixty.
65. King Osbret warned the ambassadors that, if in any way they did not like these terms, they should not come back. When these dire conditions for a peace were reported at home by the ambassadors at a public meeting, many Scotsmen scorned them as dishonorable for a free people. Others maintained that they were under the necessity either of entering into a pact with the English and Britons or exposing their kingdom to the utmost risk. The people would have divided into factions, had not Calen MacBar, a nobleman of advanced years and the governor of Angus, bereft of his nine sons, who had marched off with King Donald and been lost in the defeat, soothed the crowd a little, saying, “I have learned from our annals that once the Romans, those masters of nearly all nations, were once placed in extreme jeopardy by Galdus, our nation’s king at the time, who for his singular martial virtue gave his name to the district of Brigantia, henceforth called Galdia by public decree. They humbly sued him for peace on the terms of his choosing, and rejected none, as long as they could ensure the safety of their army. Even if they had died to the last man, this would not have entailed any great disgrace or danger for the Roman people, the masters of the world at that time. And so, if a Roman army confronted by misfortune, in which there were far more men endowed with singular prudence and wisdom than survive among our men at present, bowed its head and submitted to the peace-conditions laid down by a nation at the end of the earth, and did so without incurring any great disgrace since it could not otherwise have been rescued, we, being conquered, without a leader, without an army, having lost nearly all our young men of fighting age in the recent battle, and being placed in the utmost danger of losing our lives and our kingdom, have no reason to think it the height of dishonor to enter into a necessary pact on terms dictated by the victor. In the absence of this treaty, it is beyond doubt that intolerable evils would hang over our heads. If by any other means this commonwealth that we have kept intact for so many years could remain safe and sound, my opinion would be that we should take every risk rather than accept the conditions of this present peace. If I thought that this would rescue or lives from the danger presently at hand, I should be the first to seek an honorable death on the behalf of our common welfare. But, since the evils by which we are pressed are so extreme that we must either submit to Fortune or foolishly fight against our enemy with hands weakened, partly by age and partly by inexperience, we would die to the last man, having lost this noble realm. I believe we must bear this indignity, submit to these peace-conditions, and yield to necessity, thereby redeeming, if not this kingdom, at least a portion of it, which has been bequeathed to us after having been founded by our ancestors and successfully defended against the most savage of enemies, though all the turns and twists of Fortune. I beg you to reserve your young men, few though they are, for better times, for as long as they are safe you will preserve our nation. Someday, with God’s help, you will regain the districts now taken from you by force. If you do otherwise, you will surrender yourselves, your wives, children, and nation to the enemy, losing your liberty forever, beyond hope of recovery.”
66. They all voted to support Carlen’s motion and sent their ambassadors back to Osbret to make the treaty with him and hand over hostages according to the terms he had specified. After the treaty was made, in accordance with ancient international tradition and in response to the earnest entreaties of the English and British nobility, Osbret freed King Donald and sent him home along with the embassy. With their affairs thus settled, the English and Britons divided the lands taken from the Scots, so that a firm peace would abide between them. The Britons obtained the territory from Sterling to the Irish Sea (our countrymen now call it the Western Sea), from the rivers Clyde and Forth to Cumbria, a region already in their possession, together with all their fortifications. To the English fell the lands from Sterling to the German Sea (now called the Eastern Sea in our parlance), from the Firth of Forth, which henceforth they wanted to be called the Scottish Sea, to Northumbria, and all their towns, villages, and castles. And so in those days the river Clyde, the Forth, and the Scottish Sea where the Forth empties into the ocean separated the Scots from the English and Britons. During this period Sterling was the common border between the three people. The castle of that town, as had been agreed, fell to King Osbret, who rebuilt it after it had been destroyed by the Scots at the time they deprived the Picts of their kingdom. He decreed that those who minted his money should live there, and from the name of that castle we can see that even in our day the English and traders who do their reckoning in English money speak of pounds, shillings, and pence sterling in all their transactions. He erected a stone bridge over the Forth not far from Sterling, pulling down the wooden one formerly built by the Picts. On the middle of the bridge he put up a cross of our Savior, famous after many centuries for the verses inscribed on it:
I am fre marche, as passingeris may ken,
To Scottis, to Britonis, and to Inglismen.
67. The Picts who had campaigned alongside the English suspected that the common harmony of these three nations would be injurious to their cause. For they were afraid lest (as did indeed come to pass) the greed for territory would transform their erstwhile friends into their most bitter enemies. To consult for their own welfare, they slipped away and joined their fellow-countymen as voluntary exiles in Denmark and Norway. Others, who were not able to get away, were put to the sword by the English. Such was the end of the Picts who had lived abroad in England to escape Scottish arms. Meanwhile Donald was welcomed home and held in great honor, no matter how undeserved, by all in in his nation, as long as the hope existed that he would undergo a transformation for the better. But after a little while he sent packing all the good men around him, and eagerly returned to the haunts of his former luxury. From this he could not be retrieved, either by thoughts of the catastrophes that, one on top of another, had befallen his nation just a few days before, nor by the holy admonitions of his nation’s nobility. And so one part of the realm had been lost, and the other was governed lawlessly with nobody to defend it against wrongdoing, everything was exposed to the mischiefs of internal sedition and the kingdom was obviously on the verge of collapse. Lest their commonwealth be exposed to utter danger thanks to the sloth of a single man, the nobility, moved by the indignity of the thing, took the king captive and threw him in prison. There, a few days later, he dared a crime such had been undertaken by no previous king, for this monster, born for the ruination of his nation, committed suicide in the sixth year of his reign, which was the year 860 after the birth of Christ. In the year in which the kingdom of Scotland received this aforementioned calamity at the hands of the English and Britons, various prodigies were reported. In Lothian, a babe of six months spoke out in a clear voice and warned its mother than she and their entire household should immediately quit that district, since Lothian was destined to be taken away from the Scots and occupied by their enemy. And cattle pasturing in that district emitted strange bellowings and suddenly died. Dead fish of an almost human appearance were washed ashore of the Firth of Forth. In Galloway, large number of serpents rained from the sky. Their dead bodies were heaped up in one place, and their strange rotting made the air unhealthy to breathe for men and animals. On the basis of these portents, the soothsayers and diviners forecast the unhappy reign of Donald and also his death.
68. After his death in prison, as I have described, King Kenneth’s son Constantine received the royal regalia while seated on the Stone of Scone, and came to the the throne. At the beginning of his reign, his intention was to recover the districts forcibly taken away from Scotland during the reign of Donald. The elders forbade this, because ruined Scottish strength had not yet recuperated. They thought it better to eradicate those entirely obscene and all-destructive customs introduced by Donald, by which the young men of Scotland had been corrupted and dissolved into all manner of softness, and to the resolution of internal sedition, so that by so doing they might restore the kingdom to the condition from which had deteriorated after Kenneth’s death, by the fault of Donald. Constantine took this very wholesome advice, and by pubic authority convened a parliament of the entire nation of Scotland at Scone. There, after some deliberation, at the king’s suggestion this was the decision of the nobles. Christ’s priests should attend to sacred matters and abstain from secular ones and live content on their benefices. Motivated by a desire to increase religion, they should instruct their congregations in sacred teaching, and live as they taught. Henceforth granted immunity from military service, they should serve in Christ’s churches. They should maintain no hounds or horses for pleasure’s sake, nor bear arms or enter into civil suits. If any of Christ’s clergy should perform his duties with greater laxity than served the needs of his Christian flock, he should first be fined; then, if he did not reform, he should be defrocked. Young men were forbidden all delights, and were not to consume more than a single daily meal, and a simple one at that. They should wholly refrain from drunkenness. If a young boy or girl should become drunk, that was to be a capital offense. Young men should exercise themselves with running, wrestling, the discus, the bow and arrows, and javelins, so that they would remain free of idleness, torpor, drunkenness, and all things that tend to effeminate the mind, and gain greater endurance for all things. Their beds should have a only single blanket, so that they experience nothing conducive to softness by day or night. None of these things, however, was forbidden to old men, with the exception of the variety of foodstuffs and pointless luxury of cuisine. In the same decree culinary artists, taverners and owners of wineshops were banished the kingdom: those who refused to comply were to be hanged. By the observation of this sanction, gluttons and womanish fellows were made temperate, soft men were promptly transformed into ones capable of hard work and keen to do it, and effeminates into virile men of no little service to themselves and those who administered the commonwealth. The improved state of affairs that resulted rendered Constantine’s government welcome to one and all.
69. This king, happy in everyone’s opinion, was first disturbed by the rebellion of Evanus, a pestilential fellow of Hebridian blood. For Scotsmen, having from the very first been endowed with a petulant and wilful nature, hardly tolerate either peace or war for a long time, and certainly are unwilling to do so. When their strength is drained by war, then they imagine nothing is more pernicious to the public welfare and strive might and main to obtain a desired peace. But when their fortunes improve a little in peacetime they grow more insolent, and their contentious spirits grow impatient of rule by law, so they invent some external war or domestic quarrel, to which they have always been prone. And so this islander assembled a group of kindred spirits at Dunstaffnage, a castle in Lochaber he governed as a royal favor, and in a rather long speech he complained that protracted peace was breeding servitude for the Scottish nobility: Constantine was a deaf man, harsh, inexorable, more of a friend to the helpless than the powerful and favoring commoners more than the well-born; in him was nothing of grace, nothing of generosity; his laws made no distinction between peasants and nobles, between country folk and city men; his equal laws imposed the same punishments on all men for the same crimes, without distinction of rank; he was enriching his courtiers under the guise of administering the law, sometimes robbing innocent men of their fortunes, and sharply punishing nobles who had gone even slightly astray; there was no way left in which aristocratic young men born of distinguished parents could honorably live in the style of their ancestors, while everything went swimmingly for low-born men; this manner of government raised up the latter while bankrupting the former, it was a friend to the one and a deadly enemy to the other; there was no secure life unless one wanted to dwell among peasants as their equal and boon companion (something intolerable for a noble mind) and live on innocence alone. “And so, lest the nobility be continually mocked, and common low-down men be given no grounds to lord it over us, we must conspire against Constantine, attack him with all the force at our disposal, and place him under arrest, if it can be done, without harming anyone else. For if this thing is pulled up by the root, all else will go as we wish, and he cannot continue living with anybody’s right held in questionable esteem.”
70. They all praised Evanus’ scheme, eager (as it seemed) to return to their erstwhile luxury. But when the matter came down to business and they solicited the men of Lochaber, Moray, Ross and Caithness to mutiny, those to whom Evanus had especially entrusted the affair and had regarded as his chief ringleaders warned the king of his imminent peril. Constantine very secretly discussed the situation with his loyal friends, and marched to Lochaber with some forces sooner than anyone expected. There he surrounded Evanus with a siege and took him with small trouble. So as to destroy the rebellion root and branch, he showed Evanus to his confederates hanging on a gallows. And to prevent the conspiracy from choosing another leader, he took captive all nobles accused having been party to the rebellion and remanded them to close confinement in very well-fortified strongholds until he could discover what the authority of the fathers thought best to be done about them and the entire affair. With Evanus’ conspiracy put down in this way, at a time when everybody was looking forward to peace and quiet, a far more dangerous upheaval ensued. For such indeed is mankind’s lot that we are never more agitated by adverse Fortune than when we have no fear of her deceits. King Gadanus of Denmark first harried the Scots, and then the English, giving as his pretext that he had taken it upon himself to defend all the right which the poor remnants of the Picts had to a kingdom in Albion, from which nearly all of them had been unjustly expelled by Scottish arms after nearly their entire nation had been murdered.
71. And so Gadanus’ brothers Hungar and Hubba were sent against Albion with a large fleet. They made their landfall in Fife before rumor of an army’s arrival reached the district. Danish ferocity did not relent until it had ravaged all things sacred and profane. For Danes had not yet embraced the true religion and deeply loathed Christ’s worshippers, so they despoiled and burned their holy churches and sought out their priests for execution. Hence both the English then inhabiting Lothian and the Scotsmen of Fife were thrown into a panic and, abandoning their fields and villages, went elsewhere to save their lives. At that time there were a large number of the pious in those regions, spreading Christian doctrine everywhere. Danish impiety hunted these men down. While they worked much slaughter, the greater part of them in company of Adrian, the current primate of Scotland, fled to the island of May (which lies in about the middle of the crossing between Fife and Lothian), where in those times there was a distinguished monastery, in order to avoid the imminent danger. And some, albeit only a few, avoided being murdered by concealing themselves in caves and leading a meager, harsh life. But neither reverence for the place nor the innocence of these men prevented the Danes from burning down the monastery and killing its inmates while turning a deaf ear to their pleas. This is the venerable company or martyrs which all the faithful of both England and Scotland hold in highest reverence in our day. The number of its visitors and the many miracles performed there by God’s grace, which increase day by day, serve to make the place well known and venerable. Only a very few names survive of the members of that multitude: the venerable Bishop Adrian, Glodian, Caius Monanus (as some call him), the Archdeacon of St. Andrews, Bishop Stolbrand. For some unknown reason, the rest of their names have not come down to us. Some write that these holy martyrs of Christ were Hungarians by nationality, who had sailed to Scotland to escape the pagan savagery then raging in Germany, but others say they were a mixture of Scotsmen and Englishmen. But, whatever their origin may have been, nobody familiar with that district is unaware that, in terms of the way of life they had adopted, they were Scotsman who had taught true piety by word and deed, who resolutely submitted to martyrdom in the name of Christ, and were enrolled among the martyrs, who by their pious kindness daily help those who call on them.
72. After their felonious murder of the pious, the Danes raged through Fife and nearby parts, emptying it of many thousands of its inhabitants. Constantine was aroused by the devastation wreaked by Danish arms and, preferring to try his fortune while his affairs were nearly intact, rather than greatly weakened by constant Danish raids, ordered that a levy be held on a particular day. So a great Scottish army was immediately enlisted, with no many shirking his duty. Relying on great speed, Constantine marched against the Danes. They had two camps, separated from each other by a distance of about two miles, with a small stream, which the locals call the Leven, flowing between them. While the Scottish army was approaching the nearer of these, a great downpour caused the river to swell, to the point that for two days it was uncrossable (the Scots, after their fashion, call this kind of weather a “drizzle”). The sky soon cleared, the weather became wonderfully tranquil, and this offered Constantine a chance to attack the Danes, since neither of their armies could come to the support of the other. Therefore, bent on giving his men the opportunity to fight, he directed his battle-line against Hubba, the commander of the nearer camp, and by his swift advance his soldiers wreaked havoc on the camp-followers and those soldiers who had gone abroad to bring in plunder. Then they challenged the Danes to a fight so fiercely that by no command or exhortations could their commander keep his soldiers, angry and heatedly spoiling for a fight, within their camp. Hubba urged them to remain in the camp and wait for a more opportune time to fight, but the unruly throng, filling everything with their shouting and confusion, ignored their commander and burst forth from the camp, so that their captains were obliged to form them into a fighting-line on the spot . Over their armor the Danes wore white linen tunics with red silken embroidery, which shone with a wonderful whiteness, and, since they were accustomed to rely on their points rather than their edges, they employed swords handy for their shortness, capable of penetrating all protective equipment. At first sight, this kind of weaponry, combined with the huge size of their bodies, made them an object of fear to our men drawn up for battle. But soon, when the two armies had stood for a while within sight of each other, the Scots raised a shout and ran against their enemy, and they fought fact to face, with the soldiers of both sides standing firm in the fight. But in the end the Danes found themselves under attack from both the front and rear, thanks to the huge number of Scotsmen, and so they threw away their spears and swords and took to their heels.
73. A large number sought the camp but were intercepted and put to the sword. Others leapt headlong into its ditch, and the Scots ran right over their bodies in order to gain entry into the hateful camp. Others attempted to swim the river, of whom some were caught in its current and drowned. Others safely reached the opposite bank by the help of their fellow-countrymen (who were standing across the river, prevented by the deep water from helping their exhausted friends). Among these was Hubba, a skilled swimmer. Although he greatly grieved for his soldiers’ catastrophe, Hungar was happy that his brother had survived a double danger, one at the hands of his enemies and the other caused by the river’s current, which had consumed so many brave men. Roaring with great wrath, he industriously armed himself to seek revenge for the defeat he had suffered. This happy success had increased the Scots’ self-confidence, so that they did not think about a strategy for managing the remainder of the war, but, as if they were already all-conquering thanks to their martial virtue alone and no change in their affairs could occur, they held their enemies’ strength in contempt. For the next two days, they showed their limitless joy with singing and dancing, and their rashness grew to the point that they openly drew lots for sharing out their plunder, as if it were already in their possession, and debated whether the Danish leaders should be killed directly after their victory, or kept alive as laughing-stocks. These things were an object of great controversy, as different men made different claims: the younger nobles began exchanging serious insults with their elders, as the one party boasted of the exertions they would make in battle and the risks they would run, while the other claimed that respect ought to be shown towards old age. Many discussions were held about prisoners, about money, the weapons and spoils of the enemy, and about how the victory should be used. But there was virtually no talk of how their battle-line was to be drawn up, and the ways in which their enemy could be defeated.
74. At length, the river I have said to be dividing Hungar’s forces from those of the Scots shrank to its normal size and became crossable, so King Constantine crossed it, his forces drawn up for battle. The Danish commanders, who were thinking of battle more than booty, took advantage of this opportunity and immediately brought out their men for a fight, drawn up as follows. Hubba commanded the right wing, having six thousand Danes. The left was led by Buernus, an Englishman who had insulted King Osbret and seduced his wife, polluting the royal household with his foul adultery, so that Osbret was looking to kill him and he was obliged to quit England. He commanded some companies of Englishmen and the remnant of the Picts who had fled to Denmark. Hungar and the rest of his host held the van. Hungar heatedly urged them to join battle with a will: whatever strength and wealth Albion possessed would be their prize, together with the entire island, whereas flight would mean the death of them all and would also spell disgrace, and any brave man would prefer death to that. He then took a public oath never to return to the camp unless he had emerged the victor, and encouraged the others to do the same. They all approved this, and there was no man in their entire army who did not swear that oath. Constantine adopted nearly the same scheme, placing his brother Ethus in charge of his right wing and Duncan of Athol in command of his left, assigning each of them ten thousand soldiers. He stationed the remainder of the host in the van, where he himself intended to fight. Delivering a harangue to the army, he thanked them for winning such a courageous victory in the recent battle, and urged them not to sully the glory they had gained at the cost of such great effort with cowardice or shameful flight; they should not fear men they had defeated, more conspicuous for the size of their bodies than their martial virtue, and asserted that, if only they singlemindedly attacked the enemy with their customary energy, they would be dislodged and easily overcome. Then he commanded his men not to run headlong against them, but rather receive the enemy’s attack, thinking that the hotheaded Danes would spoil their strength by advancing at the run, and would be rendered disorganized and exhausted by thus attacking our men, drawn up in good order.
75. This command did great harm to the Scots, because it did no little to stifle their innate eagerness and keenness of spirit which commanders ought to enhance. For when about to come to blows with an enemy, our countrymen are habituated to advance their standards rapidly and raise a great shout, thinking that by these means their enemy are terrified and themselves stimulated to fight. When the signal was given, the Danes dashed into battle, but seeing that their enemy were not coming to meet them, since they were skilled fighters, they ceased their run and rested a little while in open ground, lest they join battle while breathless. Soon thereafter, they advanced at a slow pace, employing slings and javelins. Our men responded with arrows and missiles. Soon they came together with great force. At length the Danes fighting on the wings got the better of the Scots and turned them. Then all the Danes joined in an attack on our van, denuded of its wings, and did much killing, obliging the van to scatter and take to flight. The death of ten thousand Scotsman in that fight made this a dark day. But the worst of all was the death of King Constantine, who was recognized among the runaways and taken prisoner. Brought to a cave near to the sea, he was beheaded. For a number of years that place was called the Black Cave, and nowadays it is called the Devil’s Cave, in memory of that cruel deed.
76. Scotland would have been finished then and there, had not Constantine’s brother Ethus seen that the day was lost and left the battle, saving himself and his forces for a happier fortune. Lest they suffer more at Danish hands for want of a commander, the people quickly brought him to the stone at Scone and declared him king, in the year of the Virgin Birth 874, after Constantine had ruled Scotland for thirteen years. In that year, very many strange sights were seen in Scottish territories, to the astonishment of all men. A multitude of fish of a nearly human form were seen swimming in the Firth of Forth, with nearly half their bodies emerging from the water. Their heads and necks were covered with a black skin like a shroud, and they swam in gangs, which we call schools. As often as they were observed, in the popular mind they portended some dire misfortune. From the beginning of November until the end of April, lochs, rivers, streams, and freshets were frozen solid. Then, when the ice melted and it continued snowing until that time, there was great flooding, so that the flatland was covered all the way up to the foothills. When the waters receded, they left an incredible number of tadpoles behind on the fields, which rotted and infected the air, to the harm of men. A great star went before the moon throughout the month of April, casting long fiery rays, to the terrorization of those who saw it by day and night, who on the basis of those many great prodigies conjectured that bad things were about to happen.
77. When the Danes had bested the Scots, as has already been related, they left Fife and went to Lothian where, having looted them of all their fortunes, they chased the fleeing inhabitants into Northumbria. There, with the help of Bruerus’ supporters, they defeated Osbret and Ella in battle and killed them. Thenceforth Danish ferocity spared scarcely a soul as they ranged through English territory, save for those who fled, and they were crueler in killing those devoted to Christian piety and faith than the others. For (as I have said) the pagan Danes were pitiless persecutors of Christians, and it was for that reason that in those days very many Englishmen shed their blood as martyrs for Christ the Lord. This slaughter finally was visited on King Edmund (who ruled the English of Norfolk and Suffolk), a man of notable piety, a martyr who suffered death while confessing his faith until the very end. For a number of years thereafter the English kings fought against the Danes with varying success. Alfred, who succeeded to the kingship of Norfolk and Suffolk after the death of his brother Aethelred, made an end to this. He defeated the Danes in frequent battles, killed their commanders Hungar and Hubba, and spiritedly drove them out of England, giving back to the English their old liberty.
78. But let me continue with the deeds of Ethus. They say this man was so swift at running that he could almost keep up with deer and hunting hounds, and so he was nicknamed Wingfoot. But, no matter how agile his body, the events of his reign clearly showed that his mind was unfit to govern. For, when he could with little trouble have recovered Fife, Lothian, and the other districts taken from the Scots by English and British mischiefmaking, at a time the English and Danes were caught up in their very great war, he neglected military matters and valued his own pleasure-seeking more than the public welfare, as if the condition of Scotland were incapable of being improved. Neglecting his affairs both civil and religious, he entirely devoted himself to the forest. Although he was endowed with great physical strength and quickness of mind, he was addicted to his pleasures and abused these fair gifts of God and nature, to his own disrepute and the detriment of his republic. The elders of the realm were all too aware that this form of government was bound to be injurious to the public welfare, should it continue, and that the king’s corrupt ways led him to resist and dislike those who ought to have been the most preeminent men in the nation. Lest the realm, already afflicted enough, be exposed to further danger by the fault of a single man, they began secret negotiations about placing the king under arrest and removing him somewhere where he could be more advantageously kept, and about offering the throne to some other man of the royal blood who was far more prudent. Lest delay bring their intention to light, they suddenly met the king, who changed to be hunting game in Caledonia, took him captive, placed him in public custody, and imprisoned those who had egged him on in his delinquency. Afterwards, in a parliament of nobles, Dongallus, who a little before had been appointed governor of Argyll while Constantine was still living, delivered a long speech in which he rehearsed Ethus’ misdeeds: that he was an effeminate monster, possessed of a nature slow to do good, but ready to commit evil. He urged the people to depose Ethus and replace him as king with Gregory, the son of that Dongallus who had reigned before Alpin, who had been scarcely two months old at the time of his father’s death. He was a man of modest habits and outstanding probity. At Dongallus’ words, the entire multitude raised a shout to heaven demanding Gregory for their king: the man’s virtue was so well known to everyone that they all entrusted their public and private security only to him.
79. By great and universal consensus, Gregory was summoned (although he resisted being given such great power), Ethus was deposed, and the kingship was offered to him. Learning of this, Ethus was so grief-stricken that he died three days later, in the second year of his reign and the year of Christ 876. Some write that he was strangled in prison by the doing of Dongallus, lest he chance to be freed someday and revenge himself on him for that great slight. Gregory was designated king and crowned while seated on the Stone of Destiny at Scone, in accordance with ancestral custom. Not unaware that divine aid is the strongest protection for realms and their kings, and that without it kingdoms cannot endure, in order to begin his reign with favorable auspices he convened a parliament of nobles at Forfar for the increase of Christ’s religion. So that the pious could practice their faith with greater freedom, and with the supporting votes of all present, he ordained that the clergy should henceforth be immune from tribute, so-called royal exactions, and military service; they should not be haled into secular courts, nor be obliged to plead their cases save before bishops. Bishops should have the power to compel both private and public men to abide by their oaths and punish them when they did not, to impose sanctions for the advantage of the Christian religion, to decide controversies arising over vows, marriage, firstfruits and other tithes (which had from the very beginning been the portion reserved for the clergy), testaments, and legacies, and to interpret laws. They should have power to judge blasphemers of God and the saints, perjurers, magicians, and heretics, to pass sentence and impose punishments, and to prosecute with dire curses those who disregarded their decrees. They should be shunned from human intercourse as being impious, they should not bear witness, nor hold any public office.
80. A further ordinance of Gregory, which the kings of Scotland thenceforth punctually observed, that a king attaining to royal power should affirm on his solemn oath that he would protect the dignity, liberty, and clergy of Christ’s Church with all his power until the day of his death, allowing no man to obstruct those in high holy office, their sanctions, or the ministers of their religion. Gregory was possessed of a certain innate respect for piety and such gravity in his discourse, such weightiness and moderation in his words, and such polished manners, that whatever he said or did could be imagined to have been carefully weighed in the balance. He led a celibate life, renouncing venery, and was notable for his constant chastity, since his younger days were molded by those principles which discourage lust. He employed wholesome thrift regarding food and drink, he was moderate in his sleep, and avoided contact with women. His worthiness was enhanced by his intelligence, which he employed in civic improvements, the administration of the law, and in military matters. On his first expedition, he led his army into Fife to restore that district to his nation. At his arrival, since the Danes had abandoned them, the Picts abandoned the region and departed for Lothian, terrified lest the Scots’ implacable hatred against them lead to their destruction. Finding Fife to be all but uninhabited, Gregory commanded it to be repopulated with settlers fetched from elsewhere. Then, leaving Fife and marching on to Lothian, he took some of its strongholds by force and accepted the free surrender of others, and with little trouble placed the region under his control. Soon he passed through Mar and arrived at Berwick, where considerable bands of Danes, accompanied by Picts, had elected to flee no further, but rather were determined to try the matter with Gregory by the sword. But when they were on the verge of leading out their forces to battle and saw such great Scottish forces before them, and at the same time feared having an English king at their backs, they retired into Berwick in order to avoid the danger at hand, with the remainder of their multitude departing across the river Tweed, since they had heard that that a great number of Danes had recently come there. During the following night, Englishmen of Berwick, who hated nothing worse than Danish rule, received the Scots into their city and handed over their nobles, together with the city itself.
81. On the day after he took Berwick, Gregory granted the English leave either to remain or to depart freely with their fortunes, but with great cruelty he killed the Danes he found there. Next, leaving behind a strong garrison at Berwick, he and his forces continued on Northumbria, all but drained dry of its resources by Danish depredations, to place it under Scottish rule. At the time two strong armies were in Northumbria, one of the Danes and the other of the English. The latter was encamped not far from York (a city recently sacked by Hardnute), while the former was twenty miles away. When Hardnute had learned of the bloody butchery of his fellow-countrymen at Berwick, he took an oath in the presence of all his followers that he would bring the Scots to such a catastrophic end that not a seed of them would be visible in Albion thereafter. Many of his followers imitated their leader in making that vow. And so, as the Scots were advancing, Hardnute ordered his forces to be brought out in battle array. When Gregory stood before his armed companies, planning on addressing a harangue to them, their great rage erupted as they clamored for a fight, so much so that he was obliged to desist from oratory, and gave only this single piece of advice, that each and every man should remember the shameful death of Constantine after his surrender so that his own mind would encourage him to fight bravely. And so the Scots went to battle with no less spirits than energy, and with poised lances they were swept against the enemy at such a vigorous run that the Danes had no time to hurl their darts or heft their poles against the opposing battle-line. After the Scottish javelins came the axes, and and they did great work against their disheartened foe. There was no need for a man to encourage them to be steadfast and do their honorable work, or any need for a general to make them hold ranks. All their martial wrath, mindful of the reversal they had suffered, did all that for them. Thus the Danes were turned and routed, and those who could not get back to their camp scattered and disappeared in the nearby hills. The same ardent spirits which had led the Scots to defeat their enemies in battle brought them to the enemy camp, and they broke down its ramparts and other defenses. There more blood was shed and killing done than in the battle itself.
82. The next day, Hardnute attempted to collect his scattered soldiers, and when he discovered that he had lost far more than had survived, in his mind rued that black day and decided to go to Rasinus, the supreme Danish commander in England at the time. In his column, scraped together as best he could, he had many wounded, borne in wagons and carts. Hence they all proceeded slowly and he had barely covered four miles of his march when he received the sad news that Rasinus and a huge host had been killed when he unadvisedly fought the English near Holme, and that his head had been affixed to a pole as a mockery and carried around through the English villages and cities: the Danish situation in England, so flourishing a little while earlier, was no obviously heading for a downfall. Downcast at this news, Hardnute was baffled and without a plan, since his enemy were pressing him from nearly every side, so he selected a suitable place to make camp, and chose to remaint here until he had learned what the other Danes in Albion had decided to do. Having gained a victory, as I have indicated, Gregory easily laid claim to Northumbria, which all but surrendered itself freely, and drove out the Danes. He allowed all its inhabitants to retain there homes, only imposing a small tribute. Discharging his army a few days later, he went to Berwick, and there he spent his winter, consulting with his elders about the prosperity of their commonwealth.
83. At the beginning of the following summer, after he had pacified Northumbria, Gregory marched against the Britons, who, as I have said, were holding no small part of Scotland, and accomplished his campaign with no less success than he had his previous one against the Danes. For the Britons had been weakened by frequent Danish inroads, so that they paid them a great sum of money to ransom themselves from their impending peril and entered into a twenty years’ truce. But the pagan nation did not abide by its agreement. Soon returning with yet greater forces, they harried the Britons with their arms once more. They feared new attempts by the Danes, even if they had recently lost the better part of two armies, and were afraid lest they change the Scots from enemies into friends. So they sent a herald to Gregory, promising they would freely abandon whatever Scottish land was in their possession, if only he would be moved by good-will towards them and continue fighting the war he had undertaken against the Danes. Gregory gladly agreed to their requests, moved by concern for the common safety of Albion. He was convinced, that if the three peoples of Albion, the Scots, Britons, and English, would come to an agreement, they would have no further need to fear the arms of any nation in the world, no matter how thriving in power and prosperity. Hence the arguments between their kings and peoples were resolved. The Scottish districts previously held by the Britons were returned to Gregory, and Scotland was restored to its former boundaries. All these things served as a useful and happy omen for all the men of Albion, but to the Danes they appeared to portend something dire and miserable for the Danes, if they persisted in their war.
84. But this concord between those nations did not endure. The occasion was provided by the good success of the English, who defeated the Danes under Alfred’s leadership, when the Britons expected to make a pact with the victors and entered into over-bold enterprises. For their king Constantine (newly crowned after the death of his father), regretting the treaty they had entered into with the Scots and the return of so many districts to them, led an expedition into Annandale for the purpose of recovering that district, and all relations between the Scots and Britons began to be deranged. These things compelled Gregory to take up arms in order to rescue Annandale from British mischiefmaking. The Britons unsuccessfully sought aid from the English, and when they attempted to return to Wales with their plunder, they were confronted by Gregory and his forces drawn up for battle near Lochmaben. There they fought. From the battle’s very onset, Constantine appreciated that the Britons were failing, so, thinking more of the reputation of his newly-gained crown than of his life, he swiftly flew to the defense of his standards, where he was surrounded by the enemy while furiously fighting and killed. His death, the great slaughter of the noblest Britons that followed it, and the rout of the remaining multitude, won the day for the Scots.
85. This battle came close to ruining the Britons, because they were so afflicted by their own fault, with their king dead and nearly their entire army lost. The Danes and Scots loathed them, and the English disliked them, complaining that their perfidy was harmful to all the men of Albion. And yet, so that they would not be downcast and lose the glory of having a king in their nation and their kingdom too, they chose Constantine’s brother Hebert as their king, and a while later he sent representatives to Gregory to humbly sue for peace, saying that the reason they had acted in violation of their pact was not the fault of the elders of the British nation, but rather of Constantine, an excessively hot-headed young man who had recently gained the crown. His death, not without its great cost to the Britons, had atoned for this guilt, and, now that he was dead, there were no grounds for further controversy or reason why they should not abide by their ancient pact with the Scots, if only they would prefer peace to war. King Hebert was a peace-loving man who desired no more than to exist in friendship with all men, but particularly with the Scots. Hearing these words, Gregory said, “It is no love of peace or fidelity, no reverence for the treaty or their oath, that has compelled the Britons to seek a new piece. They have violated their sworn word and, unprovoked by ourselves, have impudently attacked Annandale a little while ago, a region they had admitted to belong to the Scots. Rather, the reason is that they are not our equals in war or resources, and they know full well that, should they persevere in their enterprises, they would be inviting their own ruin. So tell King Hebert I will not deal with a treacherous nation concerning peace before the Britons surrender into Scottish power whatever cities and strongholds they possess in Cumbria and Westmoreland and, together with Hebert, take an oath never again to lead an army into those regions. And sixty noble young Britons must be handed over as hostages, to be kept as guarantees that you will henceforth stand by your sworn word.”
86. When these terms had been brought home by the British ambassadors, lest they, so storm-tossed and encompassed by their enemies on all sides, suffer the utmost catastrophes and lose their kingdom in Albion, with the agreement of his nation’s elders Hebert accepted them. When a new pact had been agreed, hostages were given to Gregory, the Britons quit Cumbria and Westmoreland and their entire people removed to their ancient home in Wales, where for a number of years they held their peace, being relieved of war both domestic and foreign. When these things had been done, Gregory convened a parliament at Carlisle, where he is said to have addressed the throng as follows: “Each and every one of you can understand how happily God Almighty has favored our success, and how well disposed towards us He has been since we have restored true piety and our sacred observances, previously neglected, and honored the clergy, His special servants, with due honor, just from this single thing: that, without any great bloodshed and killing, He has restored the districts impiously taken from us by the arms of the English and Britons, and lately of the Danes, and also, not without their great loss and inconvenience, He has allowed their regions of Northumbria, Cumbria, and Westmoreland, no mean districts, to come into our power. By God’s grace we possess more than we could have hoped for: our own property returned to us, foreign lands acquired, honorable victory gained without much risk to our men, triumph over our enemies, and praise and glory in ther eyes of posterity. Our enemies, on the other had, have ignominiously lost what they basely sought to gain: they are bested in war, scattered and dissipated, driven from their homes, beset with harm both domestic and foreign, and they do not dare try their fortune against us, having gained themselves inexpiable shame and eternal disgrace.
87. “By God’s especial favor, the Britons have suffered defeat by our arms and departed these regions for voluntary exile. Nor did the Danes enjoy any better fortune in war. For they paid for their harm to us by suffering great losses, and, to their great shame, have quit our land. With the exception of a few towns and fortifications still held by enemy garrisons, Westmoreland, Cumbria, and Northumbria are our prizes, to be used as we see fit. Now, my brave sirs, our martial virtue, to which God is a manifest helper, advises us not to rest content with this single victory or these prizes, but rather to be more eager in laying claim to what God in His providence has offered us. Now we should not be ranging through the fields brining war to one village at a time, we should not be employing arms to attack boors and peasants. Rather we should attack our enemies’ cities, pull down their walls, and occupy their strongholds. No army now prevents us: the scattered Danes have gone off to Kent; the terrified English have lost their nerve and, barely able to defend their property against Danish fury, have abandoned all interest in waging war against us. Let us go to York, where their awaits us no unusual effort, but much better plunder, and also (if only things go as we would have them) honor and glory that will forever remain untarnished. I urge you, I would have you be convinced, that we ought to consult for the honor and prosperity of our affairs by avenging the wrong we have suffered by our enemy’s arms, since such is God’s will.” At Gregory’s words, each man exercised great care in preparing himself for that expedition with all the equipment of war and things needful for a campaign. Meanwhile, ambassadors of the English King Alfred came to offer their congratulations to Gregory for having indomitably weakened the enemy and gaining fine revenge on the Danes for the death of Constantine King of Scots. Those Danes, infesting Albion with their horrid war, were partly worn down by Scottish arms, and partly by the English, and must be driven out of the island. These ambassadors furthermore requested the king to renew his old treaty with Alfred, so that the combined forces of Scotland and England might easily prevent the return of Christ’s enemies, should they ever attempt one. They had no difficulty in obtaining what they wanted. Peace was soon confirmed by a renewed treaty between their peoples, and these terms were added to their old ones: the Scots should possess Northumbria without any English troublemaking; if the Danes should attack either people, both would regarded it as made on themselves and arm themselves to ward off their common injury; an enemy should be allowed no passage through English territory to attack the Scots, nor through Scottish to attack the English; if any Englishman committed theft or plunder in Scottish territory, this should not be done to the detriment of their treaty, but rather the thief and his receiver of stolen goods should be handed over to a Scottish magistrate for punishment, and the Scots made the same undertaking to the English.
88. With the treaty thus ratified, Gregory was already setting aside his arms when disturbances created in Galloway by Irish invaders summoned him to another war. For, because the men of Galloway had plundered two ships out of Dublin which had been driven to their shore, the Irish quickly crossed over with hostile intent and killed many of their people, collecting a large number of cattle. Learning of these things, Gregory immediately marched against the robbers. Hence the terrified Irishmen crossed back to their homeland, taking all the plunder they could carry. Gregory and his forces gave chase to the fugitives, which filled the nobles of Ireland with fear, since they were downcast, for their high king Duncan had recently died, leaving a son not of age to rule. Some Irish elders of sounder mind when it came to preserving the public safety strove to resolve the quarrel between those factious men, lest, if they persisted in their feud, the Scots would easily emerge the victors, to the great endangerment of the kingdom of Ireland. When they failed to achieve this, the petty kings of Ireland made a truce and immediately formed two armies to confront the Scots. Brennus, the head man of one faction, commanded one army, and Cornelius (who held sway in the other faction) led the other. Scottish arms ranged far and wide through their fields and villages, filling everything with rapine and murder, and it appeared that if their rabid fury were not quickly checked, a large part of Ireland would be laid low by fire and steel. Therefore the the Irish pitched two camps at a little distance from each other on the bank of the river Bann beneath the wonderfully high mountain of Morne. This place was virtually impassible by nature and so well defended by human works that it was quite impenetrable by an army in battle away. It is agreed that they did this so that, thanks to their delay, Gregory would eventually suffer from lack of provisions.
89. Gregory overcame this Irish strategy by his industry. For by royal command every Scotsman had brought with him fifty days’ rations to support himself during the campaign, as was our national custom, bread, cheese, butter, egg-water, and dried beef. For foul and servile gluttony had not yet rendered the Scottish character effeminate. And they understood well enough that they would not lack for a supply of water, when it served the army’s need, because of the abundance of rivers, lakes, and springs in those parts. Gregory held his peace for several days, plunged in deliberation what best to do. When all ways of attacking the enemy had been considered and investigated, they found a way by which two thousand men might be sent up the rocky and all but uncrossable ridge of Mount Morne during the night. When Gregory launched a sharp attack on the camp at first light, they could roll down boulders on the Irish, so that their enemies would either suffer an intolerable loss or issue forth from their camp and fight. They liked the plan, and Kenneth Cullan, Thane of Carrick, undertook to do the task. On the following night he crossed the Bann and lead his company far from the enemy camp by a lengthy march to Mount Morne, and by a toilsome route soon sent them to a hilltop overlooking the camp. Soon, when it had grown light, the Irish struggled manfully to resist Gregory’s very vigorous assault, and were unexpectedly assailed by so many and such great rocks falling on them from the hill above that, losing more than a thousand men, they were compelled to abandon their camp and flee, almost without putting up a fight. In accordance with Gregory’s orders, the Scots sent in pursuit brought back many captives, killing only a few.
90. While these things were transpiring in Brennus’ camp, Cornelius, lamenting that day’s misfortune, abandoned his own camp with his forces in tact and, preserving military order, departed for safer places. When the Scottish forces occupied his camp, they discovered Brennus’ body, with his head broken and his brains dashed out by the strike of a huge stone. Gregory responded to his captives’ earnest pleas by making sure that the body be honorably given a Christian burial. Then, encouraged by its successful beginning to think that this war would turn out well, he ordered his soldiers to scour for provisions everywhere. They were to take prisoner whatever able-bodied youths and men they found and bring to the camp, but spare women, the elderly, and the clergy, committing no violence, and wholly refraining from fire and the sword. Having experienced the king’s clemency, a large number of Irishmen freely surrendered themselves into his power, together with their children and their property, so that they might save both their lives and their fortunes. When he had taken possession of some strongholds and obtained a copious amount of provisions, and perceived no army was being prepared to fight him, under the guidance of his scouts Gregory marched to besiege the strong city of Donard. His siege lasted for several days, with his frequent assaults killing few townsmen. In the end, wearied by their lack of sleep and suffering from want of all things, since they were obliged either to perish or surrender, they opened their gates tot he Scots. When the city had been occupied, the king forbade his soldiers to do any looting, explaining that his column could not be weighed down by burdens without great detriment to his army. So, by his permission, the townsmen ransomed all their property, with the exception of their weapons, by paying money to his solders. Having spent three days at Donard, allowing nothing of a hostile nature to be done against its citizenry, left behind a strong garrison and hastened on to besiege the city of Pontus. When it yielded, he gave orders that it should be immune from all harm. At that point, he was about to move against Dublin, the capital city of the kings of Ireland (this city was about fourteen miles distant from Pontus), but as the king was leading his forces there it was reported to him that the Irish forces serving under the petty king Cornelius, whom they had elected their leader by common consent, was barely ten miles away with a host larger than any seen on that island within human memory. At this news, Gregory turned back from Dublin and hastened to a field adjoining his army.
91. On the next day the Irish appeared, arranged in three lines: the first was made of skirmishers bearing bows and arrows, sharp-pointed darts, and slings. In the second were very tall men defended by small bucklers, with straight longswords slung over their right shoulders. The third contained choice soldiers selected from all of these, who had a large and varied amount of weaponry. In this one were all the Irish nobles, spoiling for a fight, together with Cornelius, who was hotly encouraging the others to conduct themselves with bravery. Our men were disposed in the traditional van and two wings, each arranged in a threefold order: first were those bearing bows and lances, then men carrying poles and axes, and finally men equipped with swords and lead-tipped spears. Seeing the enemy’s battle-order, Gregory commanded that a large number of arrows and slingshot-balls first be shot against the enemy and then javelins, thinking he could thus dislodge the Irish with ease. When the battle-lines heatedly joined battle, after all those missiles had been shot, the Scottish lances did much to hinder the Irish from fighting at close quarters with their swords. Seeing this, Cornelius cried out as loudly as he could that they should use their swords to cut the lances in half. And while he had removed his helmet for a moment so as to encourage his fighting men with greater earnestness, he was wounded in the face by a spear-thrust and was obliged to leave the battle. Many Irishmen fancied that their general had become frightened and fled. so they threw down their arms and ran away to save their skins. So they lost the battle and Gregory gained the day. Plenty of men were killed during the battle, but far more in the flight. And the Scots did not relent until they had come to the gates of Dublin., So many Irishmen were lost in that bloody fight that they were wholly bereft of any hope for repairing their army in the future. On the next day, Gregory began his assault on Dublin and surrounded the city on all sides. There were a great number of men within the city, consisting of those who had congregated there before the battle, as if assured of their future victory, and fugitives from the recent fight who had retired to the city against the wishes of the city fathers. The result was that, once besieged, the city quickly began to suffer from a want of food. Lest famine destroy this multitude, which could not rely on its own strength, they began to negotiate for peace.
92. Some of them recommended a sally, and thought that they ought to try their luck rather than surrendering everyone into Gregory’s power. Others bethought themselves of the great casualties the Irish had just now suffered, and appreciated that an ultimate tragedy was threatening. For they were at Dublin, on which was pinned the hope of all Ireland: with it safe and sound, Ireland could be rescued, but, were it lost, there would be no remaining hope for their nation. They thought that they must yield to necessity, since they could no longer defend the city, and concluded that peace must be made with the Scottish on any terms they could obtain. All the nobles at that meeting approved this motion, most of all Bishop Cormach, a man famed for his great piety. He left Dublin as an ambassador to Gregory, and when he came into his presence, as submissively as he could he begged him to spare the afflicted city and its wretched townsmen. He should use his victory against this conquered people and accept their fealty, and restrain whatever he anger he felt towards them by an exercise of clemency, in such a way that that he would appear to have a concern for his young kinsman Duncan, to whom the kingdom belonged by rights. He should bear in mind that, when waging war, kings should seek that which is honorable, not that which is convenient, and that he could gain no glory by robbing a child of his kingdom, whom he ought to take under his protection in accordance with the laws of friendship and kindred blood. Dublin and its environs were in his power. He must decide whether it was more in accordance with his royal duty to preserve the rights of kingship and the nobility of cities, or to behold a wasteland of his own making, having destroyed realms and cities. Gregory replied to the Irish representative that he had not come to Ireland out of any desire to gain a kingdom or steal from an infant kinsman, but rather to avenge a wrong. It was not the Scots, but rather the Irish, who had started this war, for which they had paid a blood-atonement to God’s manifest wrath. Once the city had been surrendered, he would think about ending this war and preserving the kingdom for the infant Duncan.
93. When Gregory’s reply was reported at Dublin, the young men of Ireland lost their enthusiasm for war and bade the city gates be opened for the king. And so, having sent forward some companies of soldiers to discover if everything was save and free of even the slightest hint of a trap, Gregory hastened to the city in great estate. Many men poured forth to greet him, including various orders of the pious, each dressed in their religious habits according the rules of their various orders. Cormach, the local bishop, followed them, dressed in his finery and carrying a crucifix with an image of Christ. Then came along the Irish nobility of both sexes, who, as I have related, had fled there, the city fathers, and the remaining throng, all of them humbly begging for pardon. Surveying them, Gregory commanded the Scottish forces to halt for a while. Dismounting from his horse and falling to his knees before Cormach, he reverently kissed Christ’s image. Then Cormach addressed him. “We are profoundly grateful to God Almighty. For when He appointed you our master, He gave you such a disposition that you have spared your servants and the city they have surrendered to you, and have not permitted steel, fire, or anything hostile to range abroad. Rather, you have used your victory most mercifully, and you have left to us our lives and fortunes, which are yours by rights of war.” Entering the city, Gregory headed right for the market-place, where he ordered a large band of soldiers to remain without moving, ready for any eventuality. Escorted by another company of men, he rode on to the shrine of the Virgin Mother, and then to St. Patrick’s cathedral, to offer up his prayers. Having heard Mass there, he retired into the castle. On the following night some soldiers broke down the townsmen’s doors and raped their matrons and virgins. But the next day they were sought out with great diligence, placed on trial, and executed by royal command. This made Gregory all the more revered by one and all. Leaving part of his forces in the city as a garrison, he dismissed the remainder to their camp, and remained at Dublin for a while. Afterwards a meeting was convened at that city, and an agreement was made between Ireland’s nobility and Gregory on the following terms. The royal babe Duncan, the heir to the Irish throne, should be kept at a most secure stronghold (as he already had been), under the supervision of tutors and custodians, to be educated in goodly habits and learning, until his maturity. In the interim, King Gregory should be the regent of Ireland and take possession of all its strongholds. He should appoint magistrates to govern in accordance with the ancient laws of Ireland. They should not admit any Englishman, Briton, or Dane into Ireland without his leave, even for the purpose of conducting trade. All the nobles of Ireland swore on their oath so to do. The war thus ended, everything was full of congratulations, both because Irish factional strife appeared to be ended, because Gregory did not claim the kingdom of Ireland when he could easily have done so, and because, content to govern the kingdom for only a few years, he allowed the entire nation to live in accordance with its usual laws and liberty.
94. With Ireland thus pacified, Gregory took sixty hostages and returned to Albion, together with his conquering ireland. Henceforth no disturbance foreign or domestic troubled his reign,. and the nation of Scotland enjoyed peace and quiet. As a very fair judge, he governed everything excellently thanks to his well-tried virtue and authroity, until he died a blessed death in his extreme old age in a castle in Gareoth popularly called Dunnideer, which means “Golden Mountain.” He was a man who, as I have said, had no experience of venery throughout his life, and was a devoted patron of Christ’s clergy and companies of the pious. He died in the twenty-second year of his rule over Scotland, which was the year of Christian piety 983. By defeating the Danes and Britons he enlarged the borders of Scotland, he gained a noble reputation in the eyes of posterity, and justly earned a place among the most excellent sovereigns of our nation. Before his death, among the other secular and civic enhancements and embellishments in which he took a deep interest, the transformed Aberdeen from a hamlet into a city, and endowed the cathedral there with many privileges and estates, after having advanced the condition of Scotland with his wonderful adriotness. And yet Donald, the fifth of that name among the rulers of Scotland, and the son of King Constantine II, who had received the crown from Gregory on his deathbed, governed Scotland with lo less courage, albeit not with equal good fortune. He commenced his reign with a happy gesture of piety towards the decesased King Gregory: when his remains had been buried on the island of Iona among the graves of his ancestors, he honored them with a very elegant tomb.
95. Before I say anything more about this king, I shall employ my pen to celebrate things done in about Gregory’s day, either by him or by others. Gregory was a king greatly ennobled by his martial, secular, and religious accomplishments in this lifetime, which made him most renowned to our nation. His reign was given much brilliance by his contemporary, our fellow-countryman Johannes Scottus Erigena, a man profoundly erudite in theology, who lived at Athens for a number of years, studying the Greek language. Then he was summoned to France by the Holy Roman Emperor Louis, where he translated Dionysius’ Celestial Hierarchy into Latin. This work survives, and is held in great reverence by the learned, and has been copiously annotated by Hugh of St. Victor, a notable theologian of the University of Paris. Somewhat later he went to Britain as the Emperor Charles III’s ambassador to the English King Alfred, to congratulate him for having remained at peace with the Scottish and French, his friends allies, after having procured victory over the Danes, and abiding by his commitment. At the strong urging of the English nobility, in recognition of his great learning, Alfred transformed him from an ambassador into a resident alien, and he was appointed tutor to the royal children. Crowds of men belonging to every order of Englishman came a-flocking to the monastery of Malmesbury to hear this Johannes Scottus discoursing on philosophy both divine and secular. The result was that English learning quickly enjoyed no small increase. At a time when this Johannes was held in esteem and reverence by all men, and his name was venerated throughout Greece, Italy, France, and all of Albion, since he chided the very corrupt ways of the young men he was instructing and strove to restrain their excessive insolence with his wholesome admonitions, they stabbed him to death with their pens while he was giving dictation. Afterwards he was canonized by papal authority. After a passage of time, a noble tomb was built for this right holy man to the left of the altar, on which these verses were inscribed: “The famous philosopher John is enclosed in this tomb, endowed with wondrous learning in his lifetime. At length he ascended to Christ’s kingdom by martyrdom, which earned him a place among the saints for all time.”
96. A little while before these events transpired, the dukedom of the Normans was founded in France. For Danes from Britain as well as their homeland, joined by other sailors from Norway, Sweden, and parts nearby, were led by Rollo up the mouth of the Seine and entered France, and, ravaging their way through nearby districts, handily defeated the French that came to oppose them. Since Charles the Fat, the current Emperor, was involved in a difficult war against the Saracens in Italy, they freely raged about France, wreaking such havoc that many men thought that, were this danger not quickly checked, the greater part of France would soon come under Danish control, since its inhabitants could not withstand their violence. Therefore, with their cities occupied, partly by free surrender and partly taken by storm, and Frenchmen’s fortunes seized either by open violence or theft, soon their situation grew weaker than appeared save for the citizens living around Boulogne, the Neustrians, Bretagnes, and other neighboring peoples. Charles left his task in Italy not fully completed, returned to France, and led his great army against the Danes. The enemy remained unharmed and did not shrink a fight: rather they themselves assembled and army and went to meet the attacking emperor. The French nobles, not unaware how high-spirited and ferocious the Danes would be in battle, and that they had been emboldened by their frequent victories in England and France, not without great loss of life, urged their king to make a peace treaty with Rollo, lest he be caught up in two wars, one in France, and the other in Italy, lest perhaps he become weakened and overwhelmed, to the endangerment of his kingdom. The pious king took their advice and a treaty was made between the two nations on stated terms. Charles’ daughter was married to Rollo on condition that he and his entire host convert to Christianity. As a dowry, the emperor promptly gave his son-in-law that part of France of French Aquitaine bordered by Picardy and Brittany, having the ancient name of Neustria.
97. Rollo renamed this territory Northmania, from the collective name of his followers, assembled from nearly all over the north. For Norman means “man of the north.” This name has come down to us in slightly changed form, and we call it Normandy rather than Northmania. Rollo received the baptismal name of Robert, and was bidden pay a yearly tribute to the kings of France, signifying to posterity that he was in possession of land not acquired by war, but rather given him as another man’s favor. The date of the foundation of the Norman dukedom in France was the year of Christ’s birth 886. It is wonderful what authors have recorded about the feats of this ferocious nation in various parts of the world. A little before Neustria became the Norman dukedom, during the reign of the emperor Lothar I, France was afflicted by bloody civil war, as Lothar’s sons fought against their father as well as each other. They say that at this time the Normans waged a calamitous war against the French, invading Aquitaine by means of the river Loire and foully wasting the district. Then they attacked the interior of France, doing great damage to Bordeaux, and the men of Picardy, Tours, Orleans, Paris, Les Saintes, and other noble cities and peoples. But Charles the Bald, who followed Lothar as Holy Roman Emperor, went against them, and expelled them from those parts, which they could not settle. This is why, it is reasonable to suppose, they invaded Neustria not long thereafter and founded a dukedom there, as I have related. Not content with that dukedom in France, under the leadership of Guiscard they attacked Siciliy, Calabria, and Apulia, and set up housekeeping there for a while after conquering the locals. This Guiscard was the fifth in line after Rollo, the first Norman duke in France. For by Charles’ daughter Rollo fathered William. William sired Richard by a daughter of a local duke. He begot Richard II, to whom two sons were born, Robert and Guiscard, and they say that Guiscard set himself up as a king in Apulia. Robert was thee father of William the Bastard, who defeated the Danes and Saxons and gained control of England. William’s descendents, in a long and happy line, have continued to govern England with wonderful ability down to our day. And while the aforementioned Lothar was emperor, a noble man named Baldwin married his daughter Judith and founded the earldom of Flanders, which previously had been home to more beasts both wild and domesticated than it had been to men.
98. But I must return to my subject.King Donald devoted his attention to the administration of the law more than to warfare, since he was beset by no enemy, and piously and scrupulously administered the happy commonwealth he had inherited from Gregory. He allowed no outrage committed against any man, and especially a poor one, to go unpunished. He took great pains that all things be managed in a due, orderly, and moderate manner, so that his subjects’ prosperity would not be slow to increase. For Christ, the Lord of the virtues, had given the king such a disposition, and he piously supported those servants who professed His religion and fostered all reverence of God, protecting it from every manner of wrong. He issued an edict that the lips of perjurers and those who spoke the Devil’s name as a curse should be burned off with a red-hot poker, since among our countrymen blasphemy against God, which was then prohibited, had in those unhappy days grown far worse than it had ever been in the times of their ancestors, thanks to the laxity of magistrates and parents’ overindulgence of their children. That plague has infected the characters of all men, and especially of our own, so that in our unhappy times it is a rare man who, influenced by his reverence for God or his own salvation, shrinks from uttering rash oaths, perjury, blasphemy, or speaking curses invoking the names of evil demons. Rather, just as if they were lawful and somehow honorable, men daily devise new formulas for forswearing themselves and new ways of cursing, with shame and religion cast to the wind, doing all within their power (not without the horror of those who hear them) to consign to Satan their minds, formed in the image of God Almighty, to be rent apart in the Underworld, boiled in the waters of the Styx, pierced with swords, or tormented by even worse agonies, if Hell has any worse to offer, Matters (woe is me!) have come to the point that they are often deplored by the pious, but are incapable of correction by any preachers’ sermonizing, any admonitions, any arguments.
99. But when Donald got word that Gormund the Dane had arrived in Northumbria and was encamped not far from the shore, albeit it was unclear whether his plan was to seize the region or march against the English, and that so far the locals had suffered no harm at his hands, he marched to Northumbria as soon as he could. But when he had barely set out, it was reported that Gormund had crossed over the Humber, turning his back on the Scots, and had begun a campaign against the English. The Scottish nobility suspected this was a trick and, lest they leave Northumbria open to Gormund’s mischiefmaking, they did not retire until they had learned from their scouts that the Danes had gone forty miles beyond the bank of the Humber. Concluding that the Danes were newly arrived for the sake of attacking England rather than Scotland, Donald sent five thousand auxiliaries to Alfred, in accordance with their treaty. He kept two thousand horse with him in Northumbria with himself as a garrison, but dismissed the rest home. Not many days had passed before Gormund fought a battle with Alfred at Abingdon, where the victory long hung in the balance, but Alfred eventually won the day. And yet the victory cost him great bloodshed and prevented the victorious English from pursuing the fleeing Danes, and a little later they were obliged to make terms on the condition that the Danes would be permitted to dwell alongside the English in Albion, but only if Gormund and his followers would submit to baptism and accept Christ’s teachings. Both peoples so ardently craved each other’s friendship and alliance, their strength having been shattered, that they exchanged hostages to guarantee the peace. After this pact had been made, Gormund, clad in white in the manner of a catechumen, renounced his paganism and came to the font, where with great humility he presented himself to priest to have his sins washed away, and after having been baptized into the true religion, he took the Christian name of Aethelstane A great number of Danes imitated their leader by being baptized amd accepting true piety. When the war had thus been ended, peace between the English and Danes endured for the remainder of Aethelstane’s life.
100. While English affairs stood thus, Donald was preoccupied with a quarrel that had arisen between the men of Moray and Ross. This feud had a trifling beginning. For when some robbers from Ross invaded Moray by night for the sake of plundering, the Moray men first resisted by brawling and taking up weapons, and then called on their neighbors to join in the fight. Their struggle reached such a height of folly that within two months more than two thousand men of Moray and Ross were killed. Donald was sorely vexed that the peace was being disturbed by this domestic squabble, and led a large army into Moray. There he haled the leaders of the factions into court and bade them plead their cases. And when they could offer no good reason why they should be considered free of guilt, he made them atone for their crime with their blood, although the common people who followed their leaders went unpunished. That sedition thus having been put down, Donald made a progress throughout all the districts of Scotland. Harboring suspicions about the concord between the English and Danes, he remained in Northumbria, having with him a force of young men-at-arms ready to deal with any emergency, should one arise. There he died, always having been noteworthy for his piety, after having ruled for almost eleven years. In accordance with the custom of those days, the Scottish nobility bore his body in funeral estate to Iona, where he was buried in a marble tomb. among the graves of his ancestors.