Lulach mac Gille Coemgáin (Modern Gaelic: Lughlagh mac Gille Chomghain,[2] known in English simply as Lulach, and nicknamed Tairbith, "the Unfortunate"[3] and Fatuus, "the Simple-minded" or "the Foolish";[4] before 1033 – 17 March 1058) was King of Scots between 15 August 1057 and 17 March 1058.[1]

King of Scots
Reign15 August 1057 – 17 March 1058[1]
Coronation8 September 1057, Scone[1]
SuccessorMalcolm III[1]
Bornbefore 1033[1]
Moray, Scotland
Died(1058-03-17)17 March 1058[1]
Essie, in Strathbogie
IssueMáel Snechtai of Moray
FatherGille Coemgáin of Moray[1]
MotherGruoch of Scotland[1]

Lulach was the son of Gruoch of Scotland, from her first marriage to Gille Coemgáin, Mormaer of Moray, and thus the stepson of Macbeth (Mac Bethad mac Findlaích).[1] Following the death of Macbeth at the Battle of Lumphanan on 15 August 1057, the king's followers placed Lulach on the throne. He has the distinction of being the first king of Scotland of whom there are coronation details available: he was crowned, probably on 8 September 1057 at Scone.[1] Lulach appears to have been a weak king, as his nicknames suggest, and ruled only for a few months before being assassinated and usurped by Malcolm III. However, it is also plausible his nicknames are the results of negative propaganda, and were established as part of a smear campaign by Malcom III.[1]

Lulach's son Máel Snechtai was Mormaer of Moray, while Óengus of Moray was the son of Lulach's daughter.

He is believed to be buried on Saint Columba's Holy Island of Iona in or around the monastery. The exact position of his grave is unknown.

Depictions in fiction

Lulach is an important secondary character in Dorothy Dunnett's historical novel King Hereafter, where he is portrayed as a seer. In the novel, Dunnett used Lulach as a mouthpiece for researched information about the real Macbeth.[5]

Lulach is also one of the protagonists in Jackie French's children's novel Macbeth and Son[6] and in Susan Fraser King's novel Lady MacBeth.

Lulach is also a character in David Greig's play Dunsinane where he is hunted by the English soldiers as a threat to peace in Malcolm's Scotland.


  1. Weir, Alison. Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy. p. 184. ISBN 9780099539735.
  2. Lulach mac Gille Coemgáin is the Mediaeval Gaelic form.
  3. Skene, Chronicles, p. 102.
  4. Anderson, Early Sources, vol. i, p. 603.
  5. "King Hereafter". Dorothy Dunnett. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  6. Hateley, Erica (2010). Shakespeare in Children's Literature: Gender and Cultural Capital. Taylor & Francis. p. 90. ISBN 9780415888882.
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