Bridei III of the Picts
King Bridei III (or "Bridei m. Beli"; O.Ir.: "Bruide mac Bili") (616/628?-693) was king of
Fortriuand overking of the Pictsbetween 671 and his death in 693.
Bridei may have been born as early as 616, but no later than the year 628. He was the son of Beli, King of Alt Clut. His claim to the Fortrean Kingship came through his paternal grandfather, King Nechtan of the Picts.
Nennius' " Historia Brittonum" tells us that Bridei was King Ecgfrith's "fratruelis", i.e. maternal first cousin. Bridei's mother was probably a daughter of King Edwin of Deira. [Woolf, "Pictish matriliny reconsidered", pp. 160–162.]
Bridei was one of the more expansionary and active of Fortrean monarchs. He attacked Dunnottar in 680/681, and campaigned against the Orcadian sub-kingdom in 682, a campaign so violent that the "
Annals of Ulster" said that the Orkneys were "deleted" by Bridei ("Orcades deletae sunt la Bruide"). It is also recorded that, in the following year, Bridei attacked Dundurn in Strathearn. It is clear that, from his base in Fortriu (or Moray), Bridei was establishing his overlordship of the lands to the north, and those to the south, perhaps putting himself in a position to attack the Anglian possessions (or overlordship) which existed in the far south.
It is very possible then that Bridei was regarded by Ecgfrith as his sub-king. The traditional interpretation is that Bridei severed this relationship, causing the invervention of Ecgfrith. This led to the famous
Battle of Dunnichenin 685, in which the Anglo-Saxon army of Ecgfrith was annihilated. One Irish source reports that Bridei was "fighting for his grandfather's inheritance", [M.O. Anderson, "Kings and Kingship", p. 171, n 194] suggesting that either Ecgfrith was challenging Bridei's kingship, or more likely given Bridei's earlier campaigns, that Bridei was seeking to recover the territories ruled by his grandfather, but since taken by the English. The consequences of this battle were the expulsion of Northumbrians from southern Pictland (established through, for instance, the Anglian "Bishopric of the Picts" at Abercorn) and permanent Fortrean domination of the southern Pictish zone.
Bridei's death is recorded by both the "
Annals of Ulster" and the " Annals of Tigernach" under the year 693.
* Anderson, Marjorie O., "Kings and Kingship in Early Scotland", (Edinburgh, 1973)
* Fraser, James E., "The Battle of Dunnichen: 685" (Charleston, 2002)
* Woolf, Alex, "Dun Nechtain, Fortriu and the Geography of the Picts", "Scottish Historical Review" 85(2006), 182-201.
* Woolf, Alex, "Pictish matriliny reconsidered." "Innes Review" vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 147–167. ISSN 0020-157X
* [http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/G100002/index.html Annals of Tigernach]
* [http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/G100001A/index.html Annals of Ulster] ( [http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/G100001A/index.html translated] )
* [http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/histbrit.html Historia Brittonum] ( [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/nennius-full.html translated] )
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