Solvathius, The LXIV King

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Solvathius, The LXIV King.

KING Solvathius, the Son of Eugenius the 8th, is the next in Order [after Fergusius the III, the Son of Etfinus], Who, if he had not contracted the Gout, by reason of Cold, in the 3d Year of his Reign, might well be reckoned for his Personal Valour amongst the Best of Kings; yet, notwithstanding his Disease, he appeased all Tumults, by his Generals, with great Wisdom and Prudence.

First of all *Donaldus Banus, (i. e.) White, being Fearless of the King, by reason of the Lameness of his Feet, had the boldness, as to seize upon all the Western Islands, ând to call himself King of the Aebudae. Afterwards, making a Descent on the Continent, and carrying away much Prey, he was forced by Cullanus, General of the Argyle-men, and by Ducalus, Captain of the Athol-men, into a Wood, out of which there was but one Passage, so that their endeavours to escape were fruitless, but He and His * were there slain, every Man.

One Gilcolumbus, excited by the same Audacity and Hope, assaulted Galway, oppressed before by his Father, but he also was overthrown, by the same Generals, and put to death.

In the mean time, there was Peace from the English and Picts, occasioned by their Combustions at home.

In the year 770 Solvathius king of Scotland, obtained a victory over Donald Bain of the Western Isles, by the assistance of a man who was unknown to him. After the battle, being desirous to see one who had done him so signal a service, he was pointed out to him with these words: " Sholto Dhuglass," behold that swarthy man.

One of this family, Sir William Douglas, entered into the service of Charlemagne and was the founder of the family of Douglassi in Tuscany.

Solvathius Reigned 20 Years, and then dyed, being Praised of all Men. In the year of Christ 787.

His son, Douglas, or Dongallus, became the the Sixty Seventh King.

The Portrait

Solvathius is depicted within a painted oval, facing half to the right, wearing red draped clothing with an ermine neckline and a brown jewelled cap. This portrait is one of ninety-three bust-lengths commissioned to decorate the Great Gallery at Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh. It is painted by Jacob de Wet II, a Dutch artist working in Scotland from 1673.

Together with eighteen full-lengths these portraits illustrate the genealogy of the royal house of Scotland from Fergus I (who ascended the throne in 330 BC) to James VII (who abdicated in 1689). De Wet’s iconographic scheme was based on well-known chronicles of Scottish history by the Renaissance humanists Hector Boece (Scotorum Historiae, 1527) and George Buchanan (Rerum Scoticarum Historia, 1582).

The inscriptions on the paintings correspond with Buchanan’s list of Scottish kings: from left to right, these are the number and name of the king followed by the date of accession. The dates however are considerably muddled, by a later restorer or perhaps even the artist himself. Both real and legendary, their purpose was to proclaim the authority of the Stuarts as divinely appointed rulers of Scotland.

Commissioned and paid for by the Scottish Privy Council, the series was intended to convey the power and greatness of the country’s governing body as much as that of their king. With no authentic likenesses on which to base his portraits of medieval kings, de Wet made extensive use of an earlier set by the Scottish artist George Jamesone, of which twenty-six survive in private collections. From this limited basis the resulting series appears rather repetitious.

Much more important than their aesthetic merit therefore was the symbolic power of painting an extremely long royal lineage stretching more than two millennia.

Buchanan, Rerum Scoticarum Historia (translation from 1751): ‘Eugenius VIII his Son … A good Prince. He died in Peace’.

Number 64 in the series. Inscribed SOLVATHIVS. 767.

Commissioned by the Scottish Privy Council in the name of Charles II.



Sources for this article include:
  •  Rerum Scoticarum Historia; George Buchanan; from an original in Latin
  •  The Royal Collection Trust

  • Any contributions will be gratefully accepted


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    Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024