The Kingdom of Isles is also remembered through the Kingdom of Mann. Before the 1266 Treat of Perth, the Western Isles of Scotland were controlled by various Norse and Gaelic rulers who owed their allegiance to the Kings of Norway rather than the kings of Scotland. The kingdom of Isles consisted of several independent islands like the Isle of Man, the Hebrides, and the island of the Firth of Clyde between the 9th and 13th centuries. The Norse and Gaelic rulers considered themselves the king of Isles and it is from these origins that autonomous kingdoms the Lord of Isles would emerge.

The history of these kingdoms, especially the kingdom of Man is shredded and incomplete as the kingdom didn’t last throughout the entire period. To be precise the rise and fall of the Kingdom of Man happened in just 200 years. The islands concerned are sometimes referred to as the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles, although only some of the later rulers claimed that title.

Let’s look at the chronology of the Kingdom of Man.

A small island in the middle of the Irish sea, surrounded by several independent islands of Isles stood the birthplace of the medieval empire- the Kingdom of Man.

Kingdom Of Man

Godred Crovan also known in Gaelic as Gofraid Méránach was the first ruler of this kingdom. He was a Norse-Gaelic ruler of the kingdoms of Dublin and the Isles as he was the descendent of both Irish and Viking rulers. He first appeared in history during the Norwegian invasion of England in 1066. He consolidated power in 1079 over the kingdom of Man and the Hebrides.  The islands were located on the west coast of Scotland. He was a notorious ruler who commanded most of the trade routes including many of the British Isles like Scandinavia’s trade routes. Godred’s rule in Dublin lasted until 1094 and after his death, the kingdom faced a period of turbulence.

Though the kingdom faced many foreign invasions as well as the family feuds over throne inheritance, his descendants held on to power. The inhabitants of the island belong to both Norse and Gaelic backgrounds. The people living on the Isle of Man were known as Manx people while those on the Hebrides were called Islanders. Though these islands were small in size with a relatively small population, their sea fortresses allowed them to navigate and command major trade routes, and their Viking style ships-controlled trading, raiding, and plundering. Such kind of power was phenomenal for a small kingdom like Man to flourish and so many neighboring rulers sought aid from them.

The two rulers that especially holds a special place on the history are the Godred brothers Rognvald and Olaf. While Rognvald proved to be an asset in providing military assistance to the Scottish kings, Olaf provided coastal guards to British King Henry III. And though they formed an alliance with most of their neighboring kingdoms, they were continuously in rivalry with the sea Kings of the Hebrides.

In 1140, the Hebrides Chieftan Somerled married Ragnhild, daughter of Olaf, the Norse King of Man. But despite being relative, he turned his ambitions on becoming King of the Isles and fought with his brother-in-law, the unpopular Godred Olafsson. As a result, they formed a new rival kingdom of Isles breaking ties with the old one. This alliance between the two rulers soon transformed into a centuries-long rivalry between Somerled’s line and Manx’s Line.

Kingdom Of Man

Several bitter civil wars happened. The Manx kings tried to solve their feud several times at Tynwald but often ended with violence. In the coming years, many rulers of Manx were either assassinated or died without an heir. The last of them was king Magnus who died in 1265 at Castle Rushen. Upon his death, his grave scribed that “the day kings ceased to reign in Man”. In 1266, Scotland invaded the kingdom of Man and since then they were wiped out from the pages of history, but the fierce sea kings survived in chronicles. 

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