Hallowe’en was Always Weird—A Look at Wynton’s 1420 Chronykil

MACBETH & THE THREE WEIRD SISTERS

The three witches—current version—in forecourt of Glamis Castle, ancient thanage in Angus, Scotland

Andrew Wyntoun, known as Andrew of Wyntoun (c.1350-c.1425), was a Scots poet, canon and prior of Lochleven & St Serf’s Insch, Aberdeenshire, where he is thought to have written this poem to his hero, Macbeth—11thC King of Scots, who died at Lumphanan fifteen miles distant. Wyntoun then became canon at St. Andrews, a most hallowed position for a cleric of his time. His greatest work (1420) is his Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland

‘All night he thought in his dreaming
That sitting he was beside the King
At a seat in hunting where his sire
Unto his leash had greyhounds two
He thought while he was seated thus
He saw three women going by
And those women then thought he
Three weird sisters most likely be

MacBeth cairn, Lumphanan, where the King of Scots was slain by Malcolm in 1057

A nycht he thowcht in hys dreamyng,
That syttand he wes besyd the kyng
At a sete in hwntyng; swa
Intil his leisch had grewhundys; twa
He thowcht, quhile he wes swa syttand,
He sawe threw wemen by gangand;
And thai wemen than thowct he
Thre werd systrys mast lyk to be.

*The first he hard say, gangang by,
‘Lo, yhondyr the Thane of Crumbawchety!’
The tothir woman sayd agane,
‘Of Morave yhondyre I se the thane!’
The thryd than sayd, ‘I se the kyng!’
All this he herd in his dreamyng…
Sone eftyre that, in his yhowthad,
Of thyr thanydoms he thane wes made;

Queen/St. Margaret’s arms—Lion Rampant & sacred Martlets around Christian cross

The fantasy of his dream
Moved him most to slay his overlord
…And Dame Gruoch, his sovereign’s wife
He took and left with her his lands
And held her both as his wife and queen
Which, before then, she had been
To his sovereign—queen living Queen
—who was Kyng with Queen Regnant
For few honours then had he (Macbeth)
Only the grace of lineage affinity

Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor
Shakespeare’s stirring predictions by the three witches to a dreaming king reaching for the throne describe the cauldron scene magnificently. Macbeth will not only become thane (mormaer) of Glamis (Forfar, seat of current Earl of Strathmore), thane of Cawdor (Cawdor Castle is Nairn seat of Campbell Thanes of Cawdor since 1320), but King of Scots—whose royal court in MacBeth’s time was the Palace of Scone, Perthshire.

Dupplin 6thC Pictish Cross Forteviot before removal to museum names Constantin son of Fergus King of Picts

Syne neyst he thowcht to be king,
Fra Dunkanyis dayis had tane endying.
The fantasy thus of his dreme
Movyd hym mast to sla his eme;
As he dyd all furth in-dede,
As before yhe herd one rede,
And Dame Growky, his emys wyf,
Tuk, and lef wyth hyr hys ly,
And held hyr bathe hys wyf and queyne,
As befor than scho had beyne
Till hys eme qwene, lyvand
Quhen he was kyng with crone rygnend
For lytil in honowre than had he
The greys of affynyte.

*Wyntoun’s Cronykil refers to Cawdor in Morayshire, as Moravia, but the closest the first witch comes to Glamis? is the Thanage of Glenbuchat? in nearby Donside as his Crumbuchaty. The second sees him as Thane of Moray, leading to the third witch’s prediction: ‘I see the King’.

Wyntoun clarifies: “Soon after that, still in his youth,
“Of those thanedoms he Thane was made.”

All this when his Lord was dead
He succeeded in his stead;
And seventeen full years he reigned
As King, as he was then, of Scotland.
During his reign were times of plenty
Abounding both on land and sea.
He was in justice right lawful
His laws fair to all.
When Leo X was Pope of Rome
As pilgrim to his court he came
And in his alms he gave silver
To all poor folk who had none
And always tried he to work
Profitably for Holy Kirk

Illuminated apostles: 10thC Iona Book of Kells, now in Trinity College, Dublin show Matthew as Man, Mark winged Lion, Luke surgeon winged Bull, John as Eagle

All thus quhen his eme was dede,
He succeedyt in his stede;
And sevyntene syntyr full rygnand
As kyng-he wes than in-til Scotland.

Corgarff Castle on the Lecht pass military route between Braemar Castle, Ft.George and Cawdor

All hys tyme wes gret plente
Abowndand, bath on land and se.
He was in justice rycht lawchful,
And till hys legis all awful.
Quhen Leo the tend was Pape of Rome,
As pylgryne to the court he come;
And in his almus he sew sylver
Till all pure folk that had myster;
And all tyme oysyd he to wyrk
Profitably for haly kyrke.

Wyntoun extols the virtues of his hero, Macbeth, who claimed the throne of Scotland through his mother’s kinship with Duncan—whom he killed in Elgin (Moravia, Moray). Rival Malcolm also claimed the throne through the female line. In Lumphanan, he succeeded in killing the wounded Macbeth and, (after stepson Lulach’s pitiful six months as king), took the crown to become Malcolm III (Canmore) of Scots in 1058. He married Saint Margaret of Scotland (1070-1093), bringing peace and prosperity to northern lands during his (long) reign of 35 years.

He and Margaret are credited with pulling Scotland out of the Dark Ages and into Medieval Europe.
©2018 Siderealview

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