Bridei I of the Picts

__NOTOC__Bridei son of Maelchon, [Other forms include Brude son of Melcho and, in Irish sources, Bruide son of Maelchú and Bruidhe son of Maelchon; for Bede his father is Meilochon.] was king of the Picts until his death around 584–586.

Bridei is first mentioned in Irish annals for 558–560, when the Annals of Ulster report "the migration before Máelchú's son i.e. king Bruide". [An earlier entry, reporting the death of "Bruide son of Máelchú" in the Annals of Ulster for 505 is presumed to be an error.] The Ulster annalist does not say who fled, but the later Annals of Tigernach refer to "the flight of the Scots before Bruide son of Máelchú" in 558. This has provoked considerable speculation in some cases as, in one version, the Annals of Ulster may associate this with the death of Gabrán mac Domangairt. [The entry in question is AU 558.2; compare AU560.1 and AU560.2 where these are not associated and also AT 559.2 and 559.3. For speculation, Morris, "The Age of Arthur", p. 182 ff.]

As a contemporary, and one of the chief kings in Scotland, Bridei appears in Adomnán's "Life of Saint Columba". ["Life", I.1, I.10, II.33, II.35 and II.42.] Adomnán's account of Bridei is problematic in that it fails to tells us whether Bridei was already a Christian, and if not, whether Columba converted him. [Smyth, pp. 103–107 argues against conversion, Sharpe, pp. 30–33 is uncertain. Bede, III.4, writes that Columba did convert Bridei, which represents the belief a century after Columba's death rather than a contemporary view.] The recent archaeological discoveries at Portmahomack, showing that there was a monastic community perhaps as early as the late 6th century, may provide some support for the idea that Bridei was either already a Christian, at least in name, or was converted by Columba.

It is a matter of record that Bridei was not the only king in Pictland. The death of Galam — called "Cennalath, king of the Picts" — is recorded in 580 by the Annals of Ulster, four years before Bridei's death. [The Annals of Tigernach, AT 578.2 and 581.3, disagree on the dates, but confirm the sequence.] In addition, Adomnán mentions the presence of the "under-king of Orkney" at Bridei's court. [Adomnán, "Life", II.42.] The Annals of Ulster report two expeditions to Orkney during Bridei's reign, or, as seems equally probable, one expedition twice, in 580 and 581. [As with the earlier report of the "migration" in 558 and 560, it is possible that the reports which provide more detail were glossed much later.]

The chief place of Bridei's kingdom, which may have corresponded with later Fortriu, is not known. Adomnán tells that after leaving the royal court, by implication soon afterwards, Columba came to the River Ness, and that the court was atop a steep rock. Accordingly, it is generally supposed that Bridei's chief residence was at Craig Phadrig, to the west of modern Inverness overlooking the Beauly Firth.

Bridei's death is reported in the 580s, perhaps in battle against Pictish rivals in Circinn, an area thought to correspond with the Mearns. [Annals of Tigernach, s.a. 584; Annals of Ulster, s.a. 584. The entry in 505 mentioned earlier is approximately one 84-year Easter cycle misplaced. Bridei's death in battle in Circinn is in the Annals of Tigernach, s.a. 752, apparently misplaced by two cycles; see M.O. Anderson, pp. 36–37.] The king lists of the Pictish Chronicle agree that Bridei was followed by one Gartnait son of Domelch.

According to certain historians such as John Morris, Bridei was the son of Maelgwn Hir ap Cadwallon, King of Gwynedd.

Juliet Marillier's trilogy "The Bridei Chronicles" is a fictionalized depiction of this king's rise to power and rule.



* Adomnán of Iona, "Life of St Columba", tr. & ed. Richard Sharpe. Penguin, London, 1995. ISBN 0-14-044462-9
* Anderson, Alan Orr, "Early Sources of Scottish History A.D 500–1286", volume 1. Reprinted with corrections. Paul Watkins, Stamford, 1990. ISBN 1-871615-03-8
* Anderson, Marjorie Ogilvie, "Kings and Kingship in Early Scotland." Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh, revised edition, 1980. ISBN 0-7011-1930-6
* Smyth, Alfred P., "Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD 80–1000." Edinburgh UP, Edinburgh, 1984. ISBN 0-7486-0100-7

External links

* [ CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts] at University College Cork includes the "Annals of Ulster", "Tigernach", "the Four Masters" and "Innisfallen", the "Chronicon Scotorum", the "Lebor Bretnach" (which includes the "Duan Albanach"), Genealogies, and various Saints' Lives. Most are translated into English, or translations are in progress.
* [ Bede's Ecclesiastical History and the Continuation of Bede (pdf)] , at [ CCEL] , translated by A.M. Sellar.
* [ Tarbat Discovery Programme] with reports on excavations at Portmahomack.

ee also

*List of Kings of the Picts

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