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kingdom of the Isles


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The origins of the kingdom of the Isles can be sought as far back as the 840s. It was apparently the successor kingdom in western Scotland to Dalriada (last mentioned in the Irish annals in 839). It developed in the power vacuum left by the departure of Kenneth MacAlpin, king of Dalriada and ‘conqueror’ of the Picts, to Fortriu in 842. Kenneth may have had a hand in its inception, because its first king appears to have been his ally, and possible father‐in‐law, Gofraid mac Fherghusa, described on his death in 851 as Toisech or Rí Innse Gall, ‘king of the Isles’. The extent of the kingdom is unclear, but by the late 10th cent. it included the Isle of Man.

After a period of complete obscurity, from the 930s a close relationship developed between the Isles and Dublin. In 937, a Rí Innse Gall called Gébennach was slain at the battle of Brunanburh, fighting against Athelstan, the Anglo‐Saxon king, apparently as a subordinate of Olaf Godfreyson (or Guthfrithsson), king of Dublin.

In addition to a continuing close relationship between the Isles and Dublin, the kingship of both being held on occasion by the same figure, the 11th cent. apparently saw a conquest of the Isles by Thorfinn the Mighty, jarl of Orkney, from the 1040s until his death c.1065. However, the most important event for the future history of the Isles was the reign of Godfrey Crovan. Godfrey was a capable warrior who had taken part in the battle of Stamford Bridge as a mercenary. He conquered Man with a force of Hebrideans and took the kingship c.1079. His descendants were the kings of Man and the Isles for the next 200 years. By the treaty of Perth (1266) Man and the Isles, which had fallen under a shaky Norwegian overlordship, became part of the kingdom of Scotland. The lordship of the Isles was vested in the Scottish crown in James IV's reign in the 15th cent.

Subjects: British History.


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