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Bull of the North: Bridei Son of Beli and the Fall of the Aeðilfrithings (671–92)

James E. Fraser

in From Caledonia to Pictland Scotland to 795

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780748612314
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672158 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748612314.003.0010
Bull of the North: Bridei Son of Beli and the Fall of the Aeðilfrithings (671–92)

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It was not long after the death of Oswy that neighbours challenged the great king's young heir to prove himself worthy of his father's extensive legacy. Ecgfrith's first challenge came from Pictland, where his kinsman Talorcan had been dead since 656. Stephen makes special mention, in his account of Ecgfrith's Pictish war, of a certain ‘brave subregulus’ called Beornhaeth, a ‘subject king’ who fought for him. No source explicitly dates the Pictish ‘rebellion’ to 671. It has been inferred instead from circumstantial evidence surrounding a change in the Verturian kingship in that year. Events culminated in the battle of the Two Rivers: near a confluence, perhaps, of two Pictish streams, Ecgfrith and Beornhaeth won a decisive victory and confirmed Northumbrian suzerainty. If the expulsion of the Pictish king Drest son of Donuel from his kingdom in 671 has been correctly linked with these events, Drest was probably a ringleader and undermined by the calamity. Drest's successor, Bridei son of Beli, is the earliest king explicitly called rex Fortrenn, ‘king of Fortriu’. He is the first of four successive Pictish kings whose reigns collectively mark a turning point in Scottish history.

Keywords: Pictland; Ecgfrith; Drest; Bridei; Pictish kings; Scottish history

Chapter.  11538 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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