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Macbeth’s father

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Findláech of Moray (or Findláech mac Ruaidrí) was the King or Mormaer of Moray, ruling from some point before 1014 until his death in 1020.

In the Annals of Ulster and in the Book of Leinster, Findláech is called rí Alban, which meant “King of Scotland” in the Gaelic language. As far as we know from other sources, the only rí Alban of the time was Máel Coluim mac Cináeda, i.e. Máel Coluim II, so this title can only mean that Findláech, as ruler of Moray, was understood by many to have been the High-King of all northern Britain.

However, Findláech’s main claim to fame these days is as the father of Mac Bethad, made famous by William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. Indeed, the Irish historian known in Latin as Marianus Scotus calls Macbethad simply MacFindlaeg.

Historians are fairly certain that Findláech was ruling before 1014 because the Orkneyinga Saga reads that before the Battle of Clontarf, Jarl Siguðr of Orkney fought a battle with the Scots, who were led by a Jarl Finnlekr (i.e. Findláech the Mormaer). An Irish princess called Eithne made a banner for Siguðr, which had on it a raven. The saga records that Siguðr later brought the banner to Clontarf, where he was killed. If we believe this, then Findláech would be ruler quite a bit before 1014.

His death date, as mentioned above, derives from the Annals of Ulster, which notes s.a. 1020 Finnloech m. Ruaidhri, ri Alban, a suis occisus est, that is, that Findláech was killed by his own people. No reason for this is given, but the logical thing is to conclude that his successor, his nephew Máel Coluim mac Máil Brigti, had something to do with it. Indeed, the Annals of Tigernach tell us that the sons of Máel Brigte were responsible; the only sons we know of are Máel Coluim and Gille Coemgáin, both of whom evidently benefited from the killing, as both succeeded to the throne.

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