Douglas, King of Scotland

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Douglas, King of Scotland (833-8), The 67th King (Buchanan, Rerum Scoticarum Historia)


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Dongallus, The Sixty Seventh King.
DONGALLVS, the Son of Solvathius (2), was next King to [Congallus III. The Sixty Sixth King]. The Soldiers, not able to endure the Severity of his Government, gathered themselves together to Alpinus, the Son of Achaius; and because they could not persuade him by fair means to undertake the Kingdom, they compelled him by force and menaces to be seemingly on their side. He having gathered together an Army, and pretending to do, as they would have him, disappointed them and fled to Dongallus; his coming was acceptable to the King, but a great dismay to the Rebels; and therefore they accuse him to the King, as if Alpinus himself had persuaded them to Rebel. The King, well perceiving their Calumny, suddenly prepared his Army, and so prevented the rumour of his coming. Those of them which he took, he put to Death.

In the mean time, *Hungus died, and his Eldest Son Dorstologus was slain, by the Fraud of his Brother, Eganus; neither did the Murtherer long survive his Brother. So that the Male-stock of Hungus being extinct, his Sister's Son Alpinus, as next Heir, both by an ancient Law, and in Right of Blood, claimed the Kingdom. The Picts disdained him as a Foreigner, whereupon Dongallus sent Messengers to them, to expostulate the matter, but they refused to give them Audience, but Commanded them to depart in four days. *Dongallus intended to make War upon them, with all his might. But in the preparation thereof, as he was passing over the Spey, whose Current was very violent, the Vessel, in which he was, sunk, and he was Drown'd, after he had Reigned Six Years, some say, Seven.

It is likely that 'he was bureyitt in Colimkill'(3).

The portrait


The monarch is depicted within a painted oval, head and shoulders, facing the viewer, wearing armour and a maroon cap with a white feather.


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): ‘A valiant and good Prince.


He was drowned, coming over the River Spey, to war against the Picts’.


Number 67 in the series. Inscribed DONGALLVS.SIVE.DVGALLVS. 824.

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


The portrait hangs in the Great Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse

1.  The Scotti family, of Italy, claims lineage from Douglas, King of Scotland
2.  Solvathius, The LXIV King himself the Son of Eugenius the 8th, was succeeded by Achaius, The LXV King.
ACHAIVS was the Son of Etfinuswas and was succeeded by Congallus III. The Sixty Sixth King.
CONGALLVS, his Cousin German, reigned five years and was succeeded by Dongallus, The Sixty Seventh King.(Buchanan)
3.  Schort gait fra thir Ilis is Iona othirwayis namyt Colmekill, in quhilk is ane abbay full of deuot re∣ligius men. This abbay wes the cōmoun sepulture of all Scottis kyngis fra the tyme of kyng Fergus the secound, to ye tyme of kyng Malcolme Cānmore, quhilk biggit the abbay of Dunfermling, quhair the maist part of our kyngis lyis sen the fundatioun thairof.
Shakespeare describes King Duncan's interment as being at Colmekill, the Sacred Store-house of his predecessors, that guards their bones Some scholars interpret Colmekill as the Macduffs' domicile at Fife, but there is a strong case for it being the sacred isle of Iona, off Scotland's west coast.
The cemetery, Reilig Odhráin, sits just next to the Abbey. It’s reputed to hold the bones of sixty kings. An inventory of 1549 recorded 48 Scottish kings, eight Norwegian Kings and four Irish Kings buried there. None of the monuments marking the burial places of the kings has survived unlike those of later medieval clan chiefs. Despite the lack of physical evidence, it’s universally accepted that Reilig Odhráin was a royal burial ground between the 9th and 11th centuries. This was a time of conflict, struggle and union between the Picts, Gaels and Vikings; the period that saw the Kingdom of Scotland formed. The burial ground, and the men who were buried here, help to tell the story of this fascinating period.



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

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    Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024