From reformed barbarian to “saint-king”: literary portrayals of King Malcolm III Canmore (r. 1058-93) in Scottish historical narratives, c. 1100- 1449
By Marian Toledo Candelaria
PhD Dissertation, University of Guelph, 2018
Abstract: This dissertation examines the historiographical evolution of the literary portrayal of King Malcolm III Canmore (r. 1058-93) in the main historical narratives produced in Scotland between c. 1100 and 1449. The study considers how fundamental King Malcolm’s portrayal was to new and developing notions of Scottish kingship, sovereignty and identity, focusing on the underlying political developments that caused his portrayal to be manipulated and amended during the central and late medieval periods.
It examines how King Malcolm went from being considered a barbaric king of Scots reformed by the influence of his second wife, Saint Margaret of Scotland (d. 1093), to the Scottish prince exiled in England by Macbeth (r. 1040-1057/8). It identifies three key developmental stages in the portrayal of King Malcolm and ties their development to contemporary political and dynastic circumstances.
King Malcolm’s portrayal evolved because of a need to assert the sovereignty of the Scottish crown in light of internal threats to dynastic hegemony and external threats against regnal independence. After the Scottish Wars of Independence of the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, historians were greatly focused on the manner in which Malcolm obtained his throne in order to assert the kingdom’s independence. Lastly, Malcolm was constantly refashioned in Scottish historical narratives to reflect changing notions of kingship and identity in the medieval period in Scotland.