Dubh (or Duff), was king of Scotland from 962 to 967. Dubh the Black, as his name translates in Gaelic, was son of Malcolm I and succeeded to the throne after Indulf was killed.
Dubh was an excellent prince, if the uncertain records of these far off times may be believed. Fordun calls him "a man of dovelike simplicity, yet the terror of rebels, thieves, and robbers." Culen, the son of Indulf, attempted to seize his throne, in violation of what in those days was the established order of succession under the tanistry law. Culem attacked Dubh and the parties met at Drum Crup (probably Crief ), and, after a doubtful struggle in which Doncha, the Abbot of Dunkeld, and Dubdou, the Maormor of Atholl, both partisans of Culen, lost their lives Victory was declared for Dubh. One wonders why an abbot would be found dead on the battlefield. This incident is significant. It tells us that a great change had now taken place in the office of abbot. The temporal possessions of the abbacies had been disjoined from the spiritual duties of the office, and these institutions had come to have a dual head. The lands, converted into a hereditary lordship, were owned by families of high rank, and the spiritual duties were performed by a prior. This enables us to understand why an abbot should appear in arms on the field, and his corpse be found among the slain when the fight had ended.
Dubh the Black had vindicated on the battlefield his right to reign, but now he was attacked by an enemy from whom arms were powerless to defend him. The king was seized with a strange disorder. His physicians did not understand his malady; they certainly failed to cure it, and accordingly they found it convenient to refer it to a cause which their art did not enable them to cope with. The king, it was said, was pining away under the withering power of wicked spells. His illness shut him out from superintending in person the administration of justice and this was almost tantamount to a suspension of government, for unless the king were present to pass sentence and see it carried into execution, crime went unpunished. The king’s sickness was a golden opportunity for the thief and the robber. The lawless waxed the bolder from the confident belief that the king was on his death-bed, and would never again put himself at the head of affairs. However, Duhb recovered and, according to the later chroniclers, visited the counties of Moray and Ross, which had become hotbeds of arson and rebellion. He succeeded in apprehending the ringleaders and, bringing them to Forres, he publicly executed them. This act of righteous vengeance, which the king hoped might inspire a salutary dread of law in districts were it was flagrantly set at nought, gave moral offence to the governor of the royal castle of Forres. Among those who had expiated their crimes on the gallows were some of the governor’s and his wife’s relations, for whose lives they are said to have made supplication to the king in vain. They waited for their opportunity of revenge. On his way to the south, the king halted to pass the night at the castle of Forres. Occupied in tracing to their haunts robbers and outlaws the king’s fatigues had been great and his sleep was deep. The guards at his chamber door were drugged. At midnight, two assassins were admitted into his bedroom and murdered the monarch. In the darkness, the current of a neighbouring river was diverted from its course, a grave was hastily dug in the bed of its channel, and when the body of the murdered king had been deposited in it, the waters were again turned on, and the stream was made to flow in its accustomed bed. The spot where the royal corpse was hidden was near or under the bridge of Kinloss. The regicide, despite this ingenious device for concealing it, did not long remain undiscovered, nor did its perpetrators escape the punishment their crime merited. According to legend, his corpse was later properly buried because the sun refused to appear over Scotland as long as he did not receive a proper burial. The body of the king was exhumed and carried to the Isle of Iona. He is thought to have died in 967.
It is clear that he married at some point in his life, but the name of his wife and the date and place of his marriage are not known. He had two sons, Kenneth III and Malcolm , the latter of whom became king of Strathclyde and the former of whom became king of Scotland.