This question though not always approached diectly, is covered by a substantial body of modern historians. In contrast, this quantity is not paralelled by the literary evidence that we have for the early part of the middle ages. Dauvit Broun uses the the expression ‘textual archaeology’1 in his impressive attempt to interpret the king lists, of which it is signaificant that only one surviving was acually written in Scotland. It is for this reason that aswell as litereary evidence, archaeology and place names are useful tools in trying to squeeze as much information out of a time and place that is so notably lacking in souces.
Many of the historians that will be discussed in this paper contradict one another over the crucial issue of when a single monarchy was set up.
Although these are undoubtedly important lines of study it will not be the main concern of this paper. They will be briefly discussed but the complicated polemics as to exactly when and who set up a single monarchy will not be the main focus, principally because it is my belief that the sources simply are not there to be certain as to when a single monarchy was set up.
The main aim of this paper is to try to interpret why the monarchy was set up, dealing with more general socio-political trends. The arguments rergarding the political context of the creation, development and establishment of a single monarchy in Scotland will firstly be covered. Then the geographical advatages of the establishment of a monarchy will be concidered. Thirdly the influences of Vikings and Christianity will be discussed. Following this the three controversal subjects of Pictish continuity, Gaelicization and existing cultural unity between the Scots and Picts.
Finally, national identity will be looked at. It will be shown that it was probably a combination of all the different issues covered in this paper (some more than others) that led to the establishment of a single monarcy. Though it must be empasised that there are no simple answers, so by making this investigation as general as it is, certain contentious issues may be neglected, but the rewards are that more general trends can be recognised. There are undoubtedly things I have neglected due to personal error, but added to this there are things that can never be fully understood by historians of this period.
The only hisorical certainty in this period and place, is that one cannot be certain. The overall historical significance of the question of this paper is made explicit by this statement by Duncan. ‘The only Celtic realm with well-formed and independent politial institutions at the beginning of the high middle age was that with, apparently the smallest cultural hetitage, Scotland’. 2 The uniqueness of the historical development and maintainance of a single kingship in Scotland is the reason that attention is focussed upon the early middle ages, as this was when it came into being.
Another reason for the interest in this question is the nature of how the kingdoms of Dal Riata and Pictland appear to have turned into one, to create the kingdom of Alba, which is the basis for what is the modern unit of Scotland. Sharpe here illustrates what at first sight seems to be the case. ‘The Picts of Eastern Scotland not only accepted Dalriadic rulers but also, over a period of indeterminate length, adopted the Gaelic tounge. The progressive Irish takeover of Nothern Britain represents a more compete success than the English occupation of Southern Britain’.
3 The creation of a single monarchy seems to be linked to the creation of Alba from the regions of Dal Riata and Pictland. The first king in the sources that we have to be called ‘king of Alba’ was Domnall in the Annals of Ulster for the year 899. This new political identity, if only in the mind of the author, did grow and eventially developed into what we now recognise as modern Scotland. The Picts were first mentioned by a native Briton in a fifth century letter condeming them for purchasing slaves.
By the seventh century, they seem to have acquired a political identity. Concerning Dal Riata for around this time, Crawford states that ‘at least by the eighth century, and probably much earlier, the ruling nobility of Argyll comprised of three or four related kindreds, who alternated succession to the overking of the whole region called Dal Riata’. 4 These two political units can with relative certainty be placed in the early middle ages existing side by side with individual political autonomy.
The historical narrative for how the separate kingdoms of Dal Riata and Pictland changed into Alba is that Cinaed mac Alpin, king of Dal Riata conquered Pictland and took it over in a significant battle , killing many kings and establishing single monarchy. This is generally not accepted as the true portrayl of what happened at this time. As the sources for this version of events are writing in the future, it is seen as part of re-writing of history in an attempt for conemporary kings to validate there rights to kingship.
It is clear that prior to Cinaed there were rulers of both rulers of both kingdoms. For example, Constantin son of Fergus began his reign of Dal Riata in 789, then in 811 he became king of Pictland, finally dying in 820. He was not alone, his brother Oengus II was king of both the Pictisha and Dal Riata kingship, as was Oengus’ son. Thus, the significance of Cinaed ruling both kingdoms in the context of the time was not not that great. The real significance of Cinaed, semms to be that ‘he founded a new dynasty at a most critical period in the evolution of the Scottish nation’.
5 Cinnaed’s descendants ruled the kingship of Alba from 889 to 1034, this is why Cinaed was regarded as more important than other united rulers of the two kingdoms. It is apparent that for future generations being a descendant of Cinaed was an essential aspect regarded lgitimacy for kingship. Many modern historians see instead of Cinaed, Constantin mac Cinaeda as the primary figure in the history of the creation of Alba because he ‘steered his people out of the Viking Age and by skilfully manipulating those treacherous allies he ensured the that the heartlands of modern Scotland were never conquered of colonised by the Northmen’.
6 Paradoxically, what he was defending may have never come in to being without without the Viking raids. ‘The main contribution of the Norse was destructive’. 7 Despite the validity in this claim, they were perhaps constructive in their contribution to the creation of political unity under a single monarchy of Alba. Dauvit Broun makes makes the point that ‘ Sacndianavian pressure could be highly destabilising’ but goes on to state that ‘where existing political structures were disrupted, however, opportunity beckoned for the creation of new ones’.
8 In this work he gives the examples of Mi?? el Ruanid’s profit from the devstation of Munster in the 850’s, Baldwin II of Francia’s proffiting from the devastation between the Scheldt and the Somme in the 880’s and 890’s, and finally the advancement of Richard Count Auntun to the position of Duke of Burgundia. The same opportunity opened itself up for rulers in Scotland. Wheter it was before, during or afteer Cinaed’s reign theath the most crucial time of Viking influence is a matter of debate, but it seems that the Pictish disaster 839 was significant.
The Annals of Ulster report a battle between ‘gentiles and the ‘men of Fortriu’, in which the political leaders appear to have been killed. This could have created the required power vacuum for Cinaed to take control and set up a successful monarchy. Scandinavian influence may have not just been indirect in helping to create Cinaed’s position, because there is evidence for political links. ‘The Four Masters’ informs us that a certain Gothfrith Fergusson went to Scotland to strengthen the Dal Riata at the request of Cinaed Mac Alpin.
It is not possible to verify this source but it does not seem improbable that there links alredy existed with the Scandinavains, as they certainly did later. For the establishment of the single monarchy, the kingdom of Alba had to defend itself against the Vikings that may have directly and indirectly helped to create it in the first place. Constanti?? n mac Aeda in the battle of Strathern decisevly defeated the Vikings decisevly 904. Davuit Broun makes the observation that ‘perhaps the Pictish language as well as Pictish identity should be regarded as one of it’s greatest casualties’.
Cite this essay
Dauvit Broun About Monarchy in Scotland. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/dauvit-broun-about-monarchy-in-scotland-essay