Constantine I, or rather Causantín or Constantín mac Cináeda (in Modern Gaelic: Còiseam mac Choinnich), was a king of the Picts who reigned between 862 and 877. He was the son of Kenneth MacAlpin (Cináed mac Ailpín), and succeeded his uncle Donald I (Domnall mac Ailpín) following the latter's death on 13th April 862. According to the national myth, his father was the first King of Scotland, and so Contantine is Scotland’s third king according to most modern regal lists.
Constantine’s reign fell during a period of increased Viking activity across the British Isles. In 865 the Great Heathen Army was moving across England, pillaging, looting and obtaining tribute. Viking armies were also active in Scotland and one of these was led by two brothers named Amlaíb and Auisle. In 866 Amlaíb brought an army to Fortriu, the Pictish Kingdom around present day Morayshire, which is often referred to synonymously with Pictland in general, and obtained tribute and hostages. While Amlaíb and Auisle were in north Britain, the Annals of Ulster record that Áed Findliath, High King of Ireland, and husband of Constantine’s sister, Máel Muire, took advantage of their absence to destroy the longphorts along the northern coasts of Ireland.
Amlaíb disappears from Irish annals after his return to Ireland in 871. According to the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba he was killed by Constantine either in 871 or 872, when he returned to Pictland in an attempt to collect further tribute. Late sources of uncertain reliability state that Auisle was killed by Amlaíb in 867 in a dispute over Amlaíb's wife, the daughter of a Cináed (Kenneth). It is unclear whether, if accurate, this woman should be identified as a daughter of Kenneth MacAlpin, and thus Constantine’s sister, or as a daughter of Cináed mac Conaing, king of Brega, a petty Kingdom north of Dublin in Ireland.
In 875 a Viking army was once again present in Pictland and a battle, fought near Dollar in Clackmannanshire, resulted in a heavy defeat for the Picts. In 877, shortly after building a new church for Culdees monks at St Andrews, Constantine was captured and executed (or perhaps killed in battle) after defending against Viking raiders. According to some sources, his execution took place on a beach, though the exact location is not known. He was buried on Iona and was succeeded by his brother Áed.
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