Laird is a generic name for the owner of a large, long-established Scottish estate equivalent to an esquire in England, yet ranking above the same in Scotland. In the Scottish order of precedence, a laird ranks above a gentleman; this rank is only held by those lairds holding official recognition in a territorial designation by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. They are styled of, are traditionally entitled to place The Much Honoured before their name. Although the UK Government deems that "for Scottish lairds it is not necessary for the words Laird of to appear on any part of a passport, requests from applicants and passport holders for manorial titles and Scottish lairds to be included in their passports may be accepted providing documentary evidence is submitted, recorded in the passport with the observation e.g.: THE HOLDER IS THE LORD OF THE MANOR/LAIRD OF....... ". The Lord Lyon, Scotland's authority on titles, has produced the following guidance regarding the current use of the term laird as a courtesy title:The term ‘laird’ has been applied to the owner of an estate, sometimes by the owner himself or, more by those living and working on the estate.
It is a description rather than a title, is not appropriate for the owner of a normal residential property, far less the owner of a small souvenir plot of land. The term ‘laird’ is not synonymous with that of ‘lord’ or ‘lady’. Ownership of a souvenir plot of land is not sufficient to bring a person otherwise ineligible within the jurisdiction of the Lord Lyon for the purpose of seeking a grant of arms; the term bonnet laird was applied to rural, petty landowners, as they wore a bonnet like the non-landowning classes. Bonnet lairds filled a position in society below lairds and above husbandmen, similar to the yeomen of England; the word "laird" is known to have been used from the 15th century, is a shortened form of laverd, derived from the Old English word hlafweard meaning "warden of loaves". The word "lord" is of the same origin, would have been interchangeable with "laird". In the 15th and 16th centuries, the designation was used for land owners holding directly of the Crown, therefore were entitled to attend Parliament.
Lairds reigned over their estates like their castles forming a small court. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the designation was applied to the head chief of a highland clan and therefore was not personal property and had obligations towards the community; the laird may possess certain feudal rights. A lairdship carried voting rights in the ancient pre-Union Parliament of Scotland, although such voting rights were expressed via two representatives from each county who were known as Commissioners of the Shires, who came from the laird class and were chosen by their peers to represent them. A certain level of landownership was a necessary qualification. A laird is said to hold a lairdship. A woman who holds a lairdship in her own right has been styled with the honorific "Lady". Although "laird" is sometimes translated as lord and signifies the same, like the English term lord of the manor "laird" is not a title of nobility; the designation is a'corporeal hereditament', i.e. the designation cannot be held in gross, cannot be bought and sold without selling the physical land.
The designation does not entitle the owner to sit in the House of Lords and is the Scottish equivalent to an English squire, in that it is not a noble title, more a courtesy designation meaning landowner with no other rights assigned to it. A laird possessing a Coat of Arms registered in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland is a member of Scotland's minor nobility; such a person can be recognised as a laird, if not a chief or chieftain, or descendant of one of these, by the formal recognition of a territorial designation as a part of their name by the Lord Lyon. The Lord Lyon is the ultimate arbiter as to determining entitlement to a territorial designation, his right of discretion in recognising these, their status as a name, dignity or title, have been confirmed in the Scottish courts. Several websites, internet vendors on websites like Ebay, sell Scottish lairdships along with minuscule "plots of land" – one foot squared; the Court of the Lord Lyon considers these particular titles to be meaningless because it is impossible to have numerous "lairds" of a single estate at the same time, as has been advertised by these companies.
A contemporary popular view of Lairdship titles has taken a unique twist in the 21st century in millions of sales of souvenir land plots from buyers who show no interests in the opinions of the Registry of Scotland or of the Court of Lyon. They see their contract purporting to sell a plot of Scottish souvenir land as bestowing them the informal right to the title Laird; this is despite the fact that the buyer does not acquire ownership of the plot because registration of the plot is prohibited by Land Registration Act 2012, s 22. As ownership of land in Scotland requires registration of a valid disposition under Land Registration Act 2012, s 50 the prohibition on registration of a souvenir plot means the buyer does not acquire ownership, accordingly has no entitlement to a descriptive title premised on landownership. A study in 2003 by academics at the Universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen concluded that:"The modern Scottish Highland sporting estate continues to be a place owned by an absentee landowner who uses its 15-20,000 acres for hu
Domhnall mac Raghnaill
Domhnall mac Raghnaill was a Hebridean noble in the late 12th- and early 13th-century. He is the eponymous progenitor of Clan Donald. For this reason some traditions accumulated around him in the Later Middle Ages and Early Modern period. Despite his role as the historical figurehead of one of the world's most famous kindreds and surnames, there is no contemporary evidence yielding certain information about his life, his place in the genealogical tradition of the MacDonalds is the only reason for believing in his existence, a genealogical tradition that not all historians have accepted. Beyond his actual existence, there is little, certain. Three entries in Irish annals may discuss him. Domhnall was, the son of Raghnall son of Somhairle; the 17th-century History of the Macdonalds by Hugh MacDonald of Sleat claimed that Domhnall's father Raghnall had married a daughter or sister of the early 14th-century hero Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray. Sellar suggested. Sellar argued, his mother was a daughter of William fitz Duncan.
The latter was another famous Earl of Moray, but one who lived in the 12th- rather than the 14th-century. In a charter to Paisley Abbey Domhnall's father Raghnall is given a wife named Fonia, though there is no direct proof that this was the name of Domhnall's mother. Domhnall's father Raghnall, carrying the legacy of his own father Somhairle, was a powerful Argyll and Hebridean magnate who, depending on context, bore the titles "King of the Isles", "Lord of Argyll and Kintyre", "lord of the Hebrides, his father's legacy was such that he became the ancestor figure of both Clann Ruaidhrí and Clan Donald. There are no certain contemporary notices of Domhnall, Domhnall's existence is not explicitly attested in any reliable contemporary source datable to any particular year. However, in 1212, Domhnall may have been one of the "sons of Raghnall" who suffered some kind of military defeat at the hands of the men of the Isle of Skye; the Annals of Ulster, reporting for the year 1209, recorded that: A battle was fought by the sons of Raghnall, son of Somhairle, against the men of Skye, wherein slaughter was inflicted upon them.
A similar report from the same source has the "sons of Raghnaill" join in a raid on the Irish city of Derry led by Tomás Mac Uchtraigh, brother of Alan, Lord of Galloway. Under the year 1212 it related that: Tomás Mac Uchtraigh, with the sons of Raghnall, son of Somhairle, came to Derry of St. Colum-Cille with six and seventy ships and the town was destroyed by them and Inis-Eogain was destroyed by them and by the Cenél Conaill. Two years a similar raid by Tomás is mentioned by the same source, though the only "son of Raghnall" reported as present that time was Domhnall's older brother, Ruaidhrí mac Raghnaill. A rediscovered poem — though from a 17th-century manuscript written by Niall MacMhuirich — was addressed to one Domhnall mac Raghnaill, Rosg Mall, it is possible that this may refer to the same Domhnall mac Raghnaill, a claim made by its recent editor. The poem gives little information. Besides associating him with Lennox, a quatrain addressed him as: Gall is a word that meant "Foreigner" or "Norseman", might be meant to refer to someone from the region of Innse Gall, i.e. from the Hebrides.
It is not clear who Gofraidh or Amhlaibh Fionn are, but they may refer to some of the Norse-Gaelic rulers of Mann and Dublin Amhlaibh Conung and Gofraidh Crobhán. The Chronicle of the Kings of Man related a story. In 1249, according to the text, following the death of Haraldr Óláfsson King of Mann, the new ruler Haraldr Guðrøðarson persecuted one of the old king's favourite vassals; this persecuted vassal, described as an "aged man", was named as i.e. Domhnall. Domhnall and his young son were subsequently imprisoned. Owing to the intervention of St Mary and his son managed to escape, brought their thanks and story to the Abbey of St Mary of Rushen, the monastic house at which the Chronicle was kept. There is a charter issued by Domhnall to Paisley Abbey, found in the cartulary of that abbey. In this charter Domhnall is given no title, instead described by his genealogy: Douenaldus filius Reginaldi filii Sumerledi, "Domhnall, son of Raghnall, son of Somhairle"; this charter is thought by some historians to be spurious because the witness list and wording of the charter are, in the words of Alex Woolf, "suspiciously similar" to those in a genuine charter of Domhnall's son Aonghus Mór.
The explanation is that the monks of Paisley Abbey at some stage may have thought it in their interest to replicate Aonghus Mór's charter in order to add the authority of the founder of Clan Donald to their land rights. In 1247 Maurice fitz Gerald, Justiciar of Ireland, invaded the territory of Maol Seachlainn Ó Domhnaill, King of Tír Chonaill and killing this Irish king at the Battle of Ballyshannon. According to the Annals of Loch Cé, one of Maoilsheachlainn's allies who died at Ballyshannon was a Mac Somhairle, a "Descendant of Somhairle": Mac Somhairle, king of Argyll, the nobles of the Cenel-Conaill besides, were slain; the Irish historian Seán Duffy suggested. Duffy's main argument is that the 1
Ruaidhrí mac Raghnaill
Ruaidhrí mac Raghnaill was a leading figure in the Kingdom of the Isles and a member of Clann Somhairle. He was a son of Raghnall mac Somhairle, was the eponymous ancestor of Clann Ruaidhrí. Ruaidhrí may have become the principal member of Clann Somhairle following the annihilation of Aonghus mac Somhairle in 1210. At about this time, Ruaidhrí seems to have overseen a marital alliance with the reigning representative of the Crovan dynasty, Rǫgnvaldr Guðrøðarson, King of the Isles, to have contributed to a reunification of the Kingdom of the Isles between Clann Somhairle and the Crovan dynasty. In the first third of thirteenth century, the Scottish Crown faced a series of uprisings from the Meic Uilleim, a discontented branch of the Scottish royal family. Ruaidhrí is recorded to have campaigned with Thomas fitz Roland, Earl of Atholl against the Irish in the second decade of the century. One possibility is that these maritime attacks were conducted in the context of suppressing Irish supporters of Scottish malcontents.
In 1221/1222, Alexander II, King of Scotland oversaw a series of invasions into Argyll in which Scottish royal authority penetrated into Kintyre. As a result, Ruaidhrí appears to have been ejected from the peninsula and replaced by his younger brother, Domhnall. Whilst Alexander's campaign appears to have been directed at Ruaidhrí, the precise reasons behind it are uncertain. On one hand, the threat of a unified Kingdom of the Isles may have triggered the invasion. On the other hand, if Ruaidhrí had indeed supported the Meic Uilleim, such support to Alexander's rivals could account for royal retaliation directed at Ruaidhrí. According to several mediaeval chronicles, a certain Roderick took part in the last Meic Uilleim revolt against Alexander. One possibility is that this Roderick are identical. If correct, Ruaidhrí's alliance with the Meic Uilleim may have originated as a consequence of his expulsion from Kintyre by the Scottish Crown. Whilst Ruaidhrí's descendants held power in the Hebrides and Garmoran, it is uncertain how and when these territories passed into their possession.
In 1230, following Scottish interference in the Isles, Hákon Hákonarson, King of Norway sent Óspakr-Hákon to restore authority in the region as King of the Isles. The fact that Ruaidhrí is not recorded in the subsequent Norwegian campaign could be evidence that he had occupied himself in supporting the near-concurrent Meic Uilleim rebellion, or that he resented the prospect of Óspakr-Hákon's overlordship. Ruaidhrí seems to be identical to a certain Mac Somhairle, slain in battle assisting Maol Seachlainn Ó Domhnaill, King of Tír Chonaill resist an English invasion; the following year, Ruaidhrí's son and another Clann Somhairle dynast sought the kingship of the Isles from Hákon. There is reason to suspect that Mac Somhairle had been recognised by Hákon as King of the Isles, that the two Clann Somhairle kinsmen sought to succeed Mac Somhairle as king after his death. Whatever the case, Ruaidhrí's sons were active in Ireland afterwards, with his younger son, Ailéan, being one of the earliest gallowglass commanders on record.
Ruaidhrí seems to have been the senior son of Raghnall mac Somhairle. Raghnall was in turn a son of Somhairle mac Giolla Brighde, King of the Isles, the common ancestor of Clann Somhairle. Another son of Somhairle was eponymous ancestor of Clann Dubhghaill. Ruaidhrí was in turn the eponymous ancestor of Clann Ruaidhrí, whilst his brother, was the eponym of Clann Domhnaill. There is uncertainty regarding the succession of the Clann Somhairle leadership following Somhairle's death in 1164. Although the thirteenth- to fourteenth-century Chronicle of Mann reports that Dubhghall was the senior dynast in the 1150s, this man's next and last attestation, preserved by the Durham Liber vitae, fails to accord him a royal title. One possibility is that Dubhghall had been succeeded or supplanted by Raghnall, whose recorded title of rex insularum, dominus de Ergile et Kyntyre could indicate that Raghnall claimed control over the Clann Somhairle territories. Like Dubhghall, the year and circumstances of Raghnall's death are uncertain as surviving contemporary sources fail to mark his demise.
The first specific record of Ruaidhrí dates to 1213/1214. About five years beforehand, the sons of Raghnall are recorded by the fifteenth- to sixteenth-century Annals of Ulster to have attacked the men of Skye, in an entry that may be evidence that Raghnall's sons were attempting to extend their authority over the island; the following year, the Chronicle of Mann reports that the three sons of Aonghus mac Somhairle, as well as Aonghus himself, were slain in battle on Skye. The record of this bloody encounter seems to indicate that Aonghus had succeeded Raghnall as the representative of Clann Somhairle by this date, that Raghnall's sons responded by eliminating their uncle and his line. If so, it is possible that Ruaidhrí seized the succession of Clann Somhairle after the annihilation of Aonghus' branch of the kindred; these accounts of Hebridean warfare may, signify a radical redistribution of the Clann Somhairle imperium. Although the context of the conflict of 1209 is uncertain, one possibility is that it was connected to the clash of 1210.
Another possibility is that it related to friction between the Crovan dynasty. The Clann Somhairle claim to the kingship of the Isles seems to have stemmed from its descent from Somhairle's wife, Ragnhildr Óláfsdóttir, granddaughter of the Crovan dynasty's common ancestor. In the mid twelfth century, Somhairle confronted Ragnhildr's brother, Guðrøðr Óláfsson, King of the Isles, wrested the kingship from him. Somhairle's coup resulted in the division of the K
Kingdom of the Isles
The Kingdom of the Isles comprised the Hebrides, the islands of the Firth of Clyde and the Isle of Man from the 9th to the 13th centuries AD. The islands were known to the Norse as the Suðreyjar, or "Southern Isles" as distinct from the Norðreyjar or Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland. In Scottish Gaelic, the kingdom is known as Rìoghachd nan Eilean; the historical record is incomplete, the kingdom was not a continuous entity throughout the entire period. The islands concerned are sometimes referred to as the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles, although only some of the rulers claimed that title. At times the rulers were independent of external control, although for much of the period they had overlords in Norway, England, Scotland or Orkney. At times there appear to have been competing claims for all or parts of the territory; the islands involved have a total land area of over 8,300 square kilometres and extend for more than 500 kilometres from north to south. Viking influence in the area commenced in the late 8th century, whilst there is no doubt that the Uí Ímair dynasty played a prominent role in this early period, the records for the dates and details of the rulers are speculative until the mid-10th century.
Hostility between the Kings of the Isles and the rulers of Ireland, intervention by the crown of Norway were recurring themes. The Laxdaela Saga contains mention of several persons who are said to have come to Iceland from Sodor, which appears to be these Suðreyjar, before or around the middle of the 10th century. An invasion by Magnus Barefoot in the late 11th century resulted in a brief period of direct Norwegian rule over the kingdom, but soon the descendants of Godred Crovan re-asserted a further period of independent overlordship; this came to an end with the emergence of Somerled, on whose death in 1164 the kingdom was split in two. Just over a century the islands became part of the Kingdom of Scotland, following the 1266 Treaty of Perth; the principal islands under consideration are as follows: The Isle of Man, located in the Irish Sea equidistant from modern England, Northern Ireland and Wales. The islands of the Firth of Clyde some 140 kilometres to the north, the largest of which are Bute and Arran.
The southern Inner Hebrides to the west and north of the Kintyre peninsula, including Islay, Jura and Iona. The Inner Hebrides to the north of Ardnamurchan, made up of the Small Isles, Skye and their outliers; the Outer Hebrides, aka the "Long Island" to the west, separated from the northern Inner Hebrides by the waters of the Minch. These islands referred to as the Sudreys, have a total land area of 8,374 square kilometres of which: the Isle of Man is 572 square kilometres, 7% of the total the Islands of the Clyde 574 square kilometres, 7% of the total the Inner Hebrides 4,158 square kilometres, 50% of the total and the Outer Hebrides 3,070 square kilometres, 36% of the total. Anglesey in modern Wales may have been part of the insular Viking world from an early stage. Orkney is some 180 kilometres east-northeast of the Outer Hebrides, Shetland is a further 80 kilometres further northeast and Norway some 300 kilometres due east of Shetland; the total distance from the southern tip of the Isle of Man to the Butt of Lewis, the northern extremity of the Outer Hebrides, is 515 kilometres.
The presence of the monastery on Iona led to this part of Scotland being well documented from the mid-6th to the mid-9th centuries. However, from 849 on, when Columba's relics were removed in the face of Viking incursions, written evidence from local sources all but vanishes for three hundred years; the sources for information about the Hebrides and indeed much of northern Scotland from the 8th to the 11th century are thus exclusively Irish, English or Norse. The main Norse text is the Orkneyinga Saga, which should be treated with care as it was based on oral traditions and not written down by an Icelandic scribe until the early 13th century; the English and Irish sources are more contemporary, but may have "led to a southern bias in the story" as much of the Hebridean archipelago became Norse-speaking during the period under consideration. The archaeological record for this period is scant in comparison to the numerous Neolithic and Iron Age finds in the area. Scholarly interpretations of the period "have led to divergent reconstructions of Viking Age Scotland" and Barrett has identified four competing theories, none of which he regards as proven.
It is clear that the word "king", as used by and of the rulers of Norwegian descent in the isles, was not intended to convey sovereign rule. This is different from the way, it should be borne in mind that different kings may have ruled over different areas and that few of them can be seen as exerting any kind of close control over this "far-flung sea kingdom". Precise dates are sometimes a matter of debate amongst historians. Prior to the Viking incursions the southern Hebrides formed part of the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata. North of Dál Riata, the Inner and Outer Hebrides were nominally under Pictish control although the historical record is sparse. According to Ó Corráin "when and how the Vikings conquered and occupied the Isles is unknown unknowable", although from 793 onwards repeated raids by Vikings on the British Isles are recorded. "All the islands of Britain" were devastated in 794 with Iona being sacked in 802 and 806
Kintyre is a peninsula in western Scotland, in the southwest of Argyll and Bute. The peninsula stretches about 30 miles, from the Mull of Kintyre in the south to East Loch Tarbert in the north; the area north of Kintyre is known as Knapdale. Kintyre is long and narrow, at no point more than 11 miles from west coast to east coast, is less than two miles wide where it connects to Knapdale; the east side of the Kintyre Peninsula is bounded by Kilbrannan Sound, with a number of coastal peaks such as Torr Mor. The central spine of the peninsula is hilly moorland; the coastal areas and hinterland, are rich and fertile. Kintyre has long been a prized area for settlers, including the early Scots who migrated from Ulster to western Scotland and the Vikings or Norsemen who conquered and settled the area just before the start of the second millennium; the principal town of the area is Campbeltown, a royal burgh since the mid-18th century. The area's economy has long relied on fishing and farming, although Campbeltown has a reputation as a producer of some of the world's finest single malt whisky.
Campbeltown Single Malts include the multi-award-winning Springbank. Kintyre Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary, one of the officers of arms at the Court of the Lord Lyon, is named after this peninsula. Kintyre, like Knapdale, contains several stone age sites. Remains from the Iron Age are no less present, with the imposing Dun Skeig, a Celtic hillfort, located at the northern edge of Kintyre; the history of the presumed Pictish inhabitants of Kintyre is not recorded, but a 2nd century BC stone fort survives at Kildonan, it is not implausible that they continued to use Dun Skeig. The tip of Kintyre is just 12 miles from Ulster, there has long been interaction across the straits of Moyle, as evidenced by neolithic finds in Kintyre, such as flint tools characteristic of Antrim. In the early first millennium, an Irish invasion led to Gaelic colonisation of an area centred on the Kintyre peninsula, establishing the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata; the latter was divided into a handful of regions, controlled by particular kin groups, of which the most powerful, the Cenél nGabráin, ruled over Kintyre, along with Knapdale, the region between Loch Awe and Loch Fyne and Moyle.
The kingdom thrived for a few centuries, formed a springboard for Christianisation of the mainland. Sanda, an island adjacent the south coast of Kintyre, is associated with Ninian, the first known missionary to the Picts, contains an early 5th century chapel said to have been built by him. In 563, Columba arrived in Kintyre, to pay his respects to the kings of Dal Riata, before continuing to Iona, where he established a base for missionary activity throughout the Pictish regions beyond. Dál Riata was destroyed when Norse vikings invaded, established their own domain, spreading more extensively over the islands north and west of the mainland. Following the unification of Norway, they had become the Norwegian Kingdom of the Isles, locally controlled by Godred Crovan, known by Norway as Suðreyjar, meaning southern isles; the former territory of Dal Riata acquired the geographic description Argyle: the Gaelic coast. In 1093, the Norwegian king, launched a military campaign to assert his authority over the isles.
Malcolm, the king of Scotland, responded with a written agreement, accepting that Magnus' had sovereign authority of over all the western lands that Magnus could encircle by boat. The unspecific wording led Magnus to have his boat dragged across the narrow isthmus at Tarbert, while he rode within it, so that he would thereby acquire Kintyre, in addition to the more natural islands of Arran and Bute. Magnus's campaign had been part of a conspiracy against Malcolm, by Donalbain, Malcolm's younger brother; when Malcolm was killed in battle a short time Donalbain invaded, seized the Scottish kingdom, displaced Malcolm's sons from the throne. Donalbain's apparent keenness to do this, weakened his support among the nobility, Malcolm's son, was able to depose him. A few years following a rebellion against Magnus' authority in the Isles, he launched another, expedition. In 1098, aware of Magnus' actions, the new Scottish king, quitclaimed to Magnus all sovereign authority over the isles, the whole of Kintyre and Knapdale.
In the mid 12th century, the husband of Godred Crovan's granddaughter, led a successful revolt against Norway, transforming Suðreyjar into an independent kingdom. After his death, nominal Norwegian authority was re-established, but de-facto authority was split between Somerled's sons and the Crovan dynasty; the exact allocation to Somerled's sons is unclear, but following a family dispute, Somerled's grandson, acquired Kintyre, together with Knapdale and Jura. Donald's father, established Saddell Abbey, in 1207. In the mid 13th century, increased tension between Norway and Scotland led to a series of Battles, culminating in the Battle of Largs, shortly after which the Norwegian king died. In 1266, his more peaceable successor ceded his nominal authority over Suðreyjar to the Scottish king by the Treaty of Perth, in return for a large sum of money. Although Alexander III g
Rǫgnvaldr Guðrøðarson ruled as King of the Isles from 1187 to 1226. He was the eldest son of King of Dublin and the Isles. Although the latter may have intended for his younger son, Óláfr, to succeed to the kingship, the Islesmen chose Rǫgnvaldr, Óláfr's half-brother. Rǫgnvaldr went on to rule the Kingdom of the Isles for forty years before losing control to Óláfr. Acclaimed in one near contemporary Scandinavian source as "the greatest warrior in the western lands", Rǫgnvaldr lent military aid to William I, King of Scotland against the disaffected Haraldr Maddaðarson, Earl of Orkney and Caithness, occupied Caithness for a short period of time at about the turn of the thirteenth century. Like his predecessors, Rǫgnvaldr was associated with the rulers of northern Wales. A daughter of his was betrothed to a dynast of the ruling family of Gwynedd. In 1193, Rǫgnvaldr lent military aid to Rhodri against his rivals. Rǫgnvaldr was involved in Irish affairs, as he was the brother-in-law of John de Courcy, one of the most powerful of the incoming Englishmen.
With Courcy's eventual fall from power in the first decade of the thirteenth century, Rǫgnvaldr aided him in an unsuccessful attack on Courcy's rivals. On numerous occasions from 1205 to 1219, Rǫgnvaldr bound himself to the English Crown by rendering homage to John, King of England and his successor, Henry III, King of England. In return for his vassalage, these English rulers promised to assist Rǫgnvaldr against any threats to his realm, whilst Rǫgnvaldr pledged to protect English interests in the Irish Sea zone. With the strengthening of Norwegian kingship in the first half of the century, the Norwegian Crown began to look towards the Isles, in 1210 the region fell prey to a destructive military expedition. In consequence, Rǫgnvaldr rendered homage to King of Norway; the resurgence of Norwegian authority threat may well have been the reason why Rǫgnvaldr submitted to Pope Honorius III in 1219, promised to pay a perpetual tribute for the protection of his realm. Óláfr's allotment in Rǫgnvaldr's island-kingdom appears to have been Harris.
When confronted by Óláfr for more territory, Rǫgnvaldr had him incarcerated by the Scots. After seven years in captivity, Óláfr was released in 1214, Rǫgnvaldr arranged for him to marry the sister of his own wife. Óláfr was able to have this marriage annulled, sometime after 1217, whereupon he married the daughter of a rising Scottish magnate. Outright warfare broke out between the half-brothers in the 1220s, Óláfr's gains forced Rǫgnvaldr to turn to the powerful Alan fitz Roland, Lord of Galloway. Rǫgnvaldr and Alan bound themselves through the marriage of a daughter of Rǫgnvaldr to Alan's illegitimate son, Thomas; the prospect of a future Gallovidian king prompted the Manxmen to depose Rǫgnvaldr in favour of Óláfr. Although Rǫgnvaldr was aided against Óláfr by Alan and his family, Gallovidian military support diminished over time. On 14 February 1229, the forces of Rǫgnvaldr and Óláfr clashed for the last time, Rǫgnvaldr himself was slain, his body was conveyed to St Mary's Abbey and buried.
The main source for Rǫgnvaldr and his reign is the thirteenth- to fourteenth-century Chronicle of Mann, a historical account of the rulers of the Hebrides and Mann—the Crovan dynasty in particular—which survives in a Latin manuscript dating to the mid fourteenth century. Although the chronicle is the region's only contemporary indigenous narrative source, it is not without its faults. Not only is its chronology suspect in parts, but it appears to be biased in favour of one branch of the dynasty over another—specifically the line of Rǫgnvaldr's rival half-brother over that of his own. Other important sources are royal acta of the dynasty. Of the twenty or so examples of such sources, six were issued during Rǫgnvaldr's career. Numerous sources from outwith the dynasty's domain—such as mediaeval chronicles and annals composed in England, Scotland and the Continent—also pertain to his life and times. Several Scandinavian sagas provide useful information, although the historicity of such sources is debatable in certain circumstances.
Important is surviving correspondence between the dynasty and the English royal court, the Vatican as well. In addition, certain Welsh genealogies, a contemporary Irish praise-poem composed in Rǫgnvaldr's honour cast light upon Rǫgnvaldr's life and times. Rǫgnvaldr was a son of Guðrøðr Óláfsson, King of Dublin and the Isles, a member of the Crovan dynasty. In the mid twelfth century, Guðrøðr Óláfsson inherited the kingship of the Isles, a region comprising the Hebrides and Mann, he soon faced internal opposition from his brother-in-law, Somairle mac Gilla Brigte, Lord of Argyll, who seized the Inner Hebridean portion of the kingdom in 1153. Three years Somairle seized the entire kingdom, ruled the entirety of the Isles until his death in 1164. Although Guðrøðr Óláfsson regained the kingship, the territories lost to his brother-in-law in 1153 were retained by the latter's descendants, the Meic Somairle. Guðrøðr Óláfsson had one daughter and at least three sons: Affrica, Ívarr, Óláfr, Rǫgnvaldr himself.
Although nothing else is certain of Ívarr, Óláfr's mother appears to have been Findguala Nic Lochlainn, an Irishwoman whose marriage to Guðrøðr Óláfsson was formalised in 1176/1177, about the time of Óláfr's birth. When Guðrøðr Óláfsson died in 1187, the Chronicle of Mann claims that he left instructions for Óláfr to succeed to the kingship since the latter had been born "in lawful wedlock". Whether this is an accurate record of events is uncertain, as the Islesmen are stated to have chosen Rǫgnvaldr to rul
Somerled, known in Middle Irish as Somairle and Somhairlidh, in Old Norse as Sumarliði, was a mid-12th-century warlord who, through marital alliance and military conquest, rose in prominence and seized control of the Kingdom of the Isles. Little is certain of Somerled's origins, although he appears to have belonged to a Norse–Gaelic family of some substance, his father, GilleBride, appears to have conducted a marriage alliance with Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair, son of Alexander I of Scotland, claimant to the Scottish throne. Following a period of dependence upon David I of Scotland, Somerled first appears on record in 1153, when he supported kinsmen, identified as the sons of Malcolm, in their insurgence against the newly enthroned Malcolm IV of Scotland. Following this unsuccessful uprising, Somerled appears to have turned his sights upon the kingship of the Isles ruled by his brother-in-law, Godred Olafsson. Taking advantage of the latter's faltering authority, Somerled participated in a violent coup d'état, seized half of the kingdom in 1156.
Two years he defeated and drove Godred from power, Somerled ruled the entire kingdom until his death. Somerled was slain in 1164 at the Battle of Renfrew, amidst an invasion of mainland Scotland, commanding forces drawn from all over his kingdom; the reasons for his attack are unknown. He may have wished to nullify Scottish encroachment, but the scale of his venture suggests that he nursed greater ambitions. On his death, Somerled's vast kingdom disintegrated, although his sons retained much of the southern Hebridean portion. Compared to his immediate descendants, who associated themselves with reformed religious orders, Somerled may have been something of a religious traditionalist. In the last year of his life, he attempted to persuade the head of the Columban monastic community, Flaithbertach Ua Brolcháin, Abbot of Derry, to relocate from Ireland to Iona, a sacred island within Somerled's sphere of influence. For Somerled, his demise denied him the ecclesiastical reunification he sought, decades his descendants oversaw the obliteration of the island's Columban monastery.
Iona's oldest surviving building, St Oran's Chapel, dates to the mid-12th century, may have been built by Somerled or his family. Traditionally imagined as a Celtic hero, who vanquished Viking foes and fostered a Gaelic renaissance, contemporary sources instead reveal that Somerled operated in, belonged to, the same Norse-Gaelic cultural environment as his maritime neighbours. By his wife, daughter of Olafr Godredsson, King of the Isles, a member of the Crovan dynasty and his descendants claimed the Kingdom of the Isles. A medieval successor to this kingdom, the Lordship of the Isles, was ruled by Somerled's descendants until the late 15th century. Regarded as a significant figure in 12th-century Scottish and Manx history, Somerled is proudly proclaimed as a patrilineal ancestor by several Scottish clans. Recent genetic studies suggest that Somerled has hundreds of thousands of patrilineal descendants, that his patrilineal origins may lie in Scandinavia. Somerled's career is patchily documented in four main contemporary sources: the Chronicle of Holyrood, the Chronicle of Melrose, the Chronicles of Mann, the Carmen de Morte Sumerledi.
The chronicles of Holyrood and Melrose were compiled in the late 12th century. As products of Scottish reformed monasteries, these sources tend to be sympathetic to the cause of the Scottish kings descended from Malcolm III of Scotland; the Chronicle of Mann was first compiled in the mid-13th century, concerns itself with the history of the Crovan dynasty, a rival kindred of Somerled and his descendants. For similar reasons, the aforementioned sources and the Carmen de Morte Sumerledi, a late 12th-century Latin poem by a Scottish cleric who witnessed Somerled's final invasion against the Scots, are partisan accounts slanted against Somerled. Various Irish annals are useful sources of information, although they only corroborate what is documented in other sources. Clan histories, such as the early modern History of the MacDonalds and the Books of Clanranald, although unreliable as historical narratives, contain a considerable amount of detailed information; the late provenance and partisan nature of these histories means that their uncorroborated claims those concerning early figures such as Somerled and his contemporaries, need to be treated with caution.
Another relevant source is a particular charter, issued by Malcolm IV, King of Scotland in 1160, that notes Somerled in its dating clause. Somerled's origins are masked in myth. Although no contemporary pedigree exists that outlines his ancestry, there are over a dozen medieval, early modern, modern sources that purport to outline Somerled's patrilineal descent; the names that these sources give for his father and paternal grandfather appear to be corroborated in patronymic forms recorded in the Annals of Tigernach and the Annals of Ulster. The names in preceding generations, become more unusual, the more authoritative sources begin to contradict each other. In consequence, two or three generations may be the furthest that Somerled's patrilineal lineage can be traced with any degree of accuracy. Somerled was certainly of Norse–Gaelic ancestry, nothing is known of his early life; the History of the MacDonalds and the Book of Clanranald relate that his immediate ancestors were prominent in Argyll before being unjustly ejected by Scandinavians and Scots.
Although these specific claims concerning his ancestors cannot be corroborated, Somerled's eventual marriage to a daughter of a reigning King of the Isles, the marriage of one of the former