[From Brown's Directory, 1881/2]
[Note this section of the chapter is included for the sake of completeness - much, if not all, is taken from Train's 1844 History - the more valuable sections are those covering from 1850 onwards when J Brown had personal knowledge of the people and affairs]
The Isle of Man, or, as it is affectionately called by the Manx themselves, Ellan Vannin Veg Veen (the dear little Isle of Man), was originally peopled by the same race which occupied the surrounding countries; and even still, as in the West of Ireland and Scotland, the great bulk of its population is essentially Celtic in descent and characteristics: Prior to the occupation of the Island by the Romans, which probably took place during the government of Agricola, though we have no explicit account of its conquest now remaining, we know nothing of its history or condition; and even of the Roman period itself we have no direct knowledge. Leaving out of our consideration a few vague and uncertain traditions respecting this period which long lingered in the country, our belief in the Roman occupation of the Isle of Man rests entirely upon the discovery of Roman remains in various parts of the Island, and especially in Castletown, its ancient capital, where, in 1828, the foundations of a Roman temple, together with some coins of Germanicus and Agricola, were discovered. The traces remaining of their presence in the Island, however, are very slight, and it is evident that their hold of it must have been of short duration. As their arms receded before the Picts and Scots of the North and West, and they abandoned their hardly won conquests beyond the Tyne, we may readily suppose them to have quitted with less reluctance their isolated and valueless possession of the Isle of Man.
After their departure it again fell into the hands of the Scots or Irish, who were now gradually spreading themselves over the Western Islands and the Highlands of Scotland, and it quietly remained in their possession until the end of the fifth century. An interesting relic of this period was in existence so late as the year 1818. In that year the local authorities demolished a remarkable old fortress which stood at the entrance to the old harbour of Douglas, known as "the Picts Fort," which consisted of a large circular tower with a smaller turret rising from the centre of its battlemented roofthe distinguishing mark, according to antiquaries, of the Pictish rath. Fort-street, Douglas, which opens on to the shore at the point where this ancient tower stood, was named from it.
The period between the departure of the Romans and the introduction of Christianity in the middle of the fifth century was, according to the traditionary account, a time of profound peace and prosperity. Protected by its situation in the midst of a stormy sea, and offering little in the shape of plunder or glory to the wandering sea-kings, the Island enjoyed complete immunity from foreign invasion; while, under the mild and patriarchal rule of the Druids, who, after their expulsion from Anglesey, made it their headquarters, and of their wizard-king Mananan-beg-mac-yLheir, its inhabitants enjoyed a freedom from taxation and from harrassing labour to which they in after time looked back with admiration and regret. This happy condition, so rare in those times of bloodshed and disorder, seems also to have been partly owing to the high estimation in which the islanders were held, for their piety and learning, by the surrounding nations, several of whose kings appear to have sent their sons to be educated by the Manx Druids. This period, the Golden Age of Manx history, is graphically described in a curious Manx ballad, usually ascribed to the early part of the sixteenth century, which condensed into a concrete form the oral traditions current among the ignorant and oppressed islanders of the day. It pictures Mannanan as a Paynim and a necromancer, the first who held the enchanted Island, and says that he kept it neither with sword nor with bow, but by enveloping it in a fog whenever he saw ships approaching, and that by his art-magic he also would make one man, standing on a hill, appear as if there were a hundred. The same ballad informs us that the rent paid to this wizard-king was a bundle of coarse meadow-grass from each landholder yearly at midsummer, brought by some to the top of the mountain at Barrule, and by others deposited with Mannanan himself at Keamool. After thus de scribing the condition of the Island under its Pagan king, the bard passes on at once to the arrival of St. Patrick and the conversion of Mona to Christianity. As this is told in a very curious and characteristic manner, we shall quote the translation of it given in Mr Trains "History of the Isle of Man." The poet thus proceeds:
Then came Patrick into the midst of them;
He was a saint full of virtue.
He banished Mannanan on the wave,
And his evil servants all dispersed.
And to all those that were evil
He showed no favour nor kindness.
Of the seed of the conjurors there were none
But what he destroyed or put to death.
He blessed the country from end to end,
And never left a beggar in it;
And, also, cleared off all those
That refused or denied to become Christians.
Thus it was that Christianity first came to Man,
By Saint Patrick planted in;
And to establish Christ in us,
And also in our children.
He then blessed Saint German,
And left him a bishop in it,
To strengthen the faith more and more,
And faithfully built chapels in it.
For each four quarterlands he made a chapel,
For people of them to meet for prayer;
He also built German Church in Peel Castle,
Which remaineth there until this day.
Before German had finished his work,
God sent for him and he died:
As ye yourselves know that this messenger
Cannot be put off by using means.
He died, and his corpse was laid
Where a great bank had been, but soon was levelled;
A cross of stone is set at his feet,
In his own church in Peel Castle.
Then came Maughold, as we are told,
And came on shore at the Head,
And built a church and yard around
At the place he thought to have his dwelling.
The chapels which Saint German ordered
For the people to come to prayers in them,
Maughold put a parcel of them into one,
And thus made regular parishes.
Maughold died, and he is laid
In his own church at Maughold Head,
And the next bishop that came after,
To the best of my knowledge, was Lonnan.
Connaghan then came next,
And then Marown the third;
These all three lie in Marown,
And there for ever lie unmolested.
The introduction of Christianity by St. Patrick and his disciples and successors, thus quaintly related, was the most important event of this period. By the Scottish Chronicles it is, indeed, asserted that a number of Christain Britons having fled into Scotland to escape the Diocletian persecution, in the beginning of the fourth century, Crathlint, the reigning monarch, established them on Peel islet, and built for them a small church, the ruins of which are still in existence. If this were so, these Christian refugees, probably few in number, and isolated by their insular situation from the inhabitants of the main island, and opposed, too, by the terrible power which it is well known the Druids wielded over their followers, exercised little or no influence over the pagan Manx, for, as we have seen, Druidism continued to flourish among them until the fifth century, when, in the year 444 Saint Patrick, while on a voyage from Liverpool to Ireland with thirty companions, was cast by a violent storm upon the same rocky islet where the British Christians had been established 150 years before. Eager for work wherever it offered itself, and finding the pagan island a congenial field, he laboured among the Manx for three years, and by his unceasing labours, his powerful eloquence, and his astonishing miracles, he succeeded in persuading them to abandon their idolatries and embrace Christianity. On his departure, in 447, he appointed as first Christian bishop of the Island, German, or Germanus, one of his most trusted deciples, and famous in British history as the opponent of the Pelagian heresy, and the hero of "the Alleluia Victory" over the heathen Saxons at Maes Gramon, in Flintshire. The stay of Germanus in the Isle of Man must have been very brief, but during it he is stated in the metrical history of the Island above quoted to have laboured faithfully
"To strengthen the faith more and more,"
and "for each four quarterlands he made a chapel, for people of them to meet for prayer." Dying in the life-time of St. Patrick, that apostle of the Manx Church consecrated in succession Conindrius and Romulus, of whom nothing is known but their names. During the episcopate of Romulus, St. Maughold was cast ashore at the foot of the great headland which now bears his name, AD. 498. A strange legend is related of this saint and the manner of his arrival in the Island. He had been originally the leader of a band of Kerns, or Irish banditti, but having been converted. and baptized by St. Patiick,he, in the strange spirit of the age, caused him self to be bound hand and foot, and placed in a frail wicker boat to be blown by the winds whither it might please God. Drifting before the north wind towards the Isle of Man, he was cast ashore. Being released from his perilous situation, he retired into a cave in the mountains, where, by the austerity of his life, he became so eminent for piety that he was, with the unanimous consent of the Manx people, elected bishop, in succession to Romulus. His great work was the division of the Island into parishes and the erection of a church in each. He died in A.D. 553, and, according to tradition, was buried in the church that still bears his name, where his shrine was kept till the time of the Reformation.
But while the Island was thus being steadily and peacefully christian ised under this succession of saintly prelates, the surrounding countries were suffering the horrors of the terrible wars which followed the collapse of the Western Empire. Out of these at length arose new kingdoms and new interests, in view of which the solitary Isle, so long disregarded as of little value, assumed new importance and value. Hence arose a long and exhausting struggle for its possessiona struggle in which its rights were utterly forgotten, which banished its ancient peace and prosperity, and changed for ever the current of its national existence. Lonely and neglected no longer, it was eagerly contended for by all the surrounding nations, its bays and creeks were crowded by their numerous fleets, and its green hills and wild glens resounded with their furious cries and were dyed red with their mutual slaughter. The first to contest the possession of the Island with the Scots were the Britons of North Wales, who, under Maclgwyn, a nephew of King Arthur, invaded and conquered it in 517. In 581 it was re-conquered by the Scots, and retained by them until the middle of the following century, when the Welsh again attacked them and drovethem out of the country. During the succeeding hundred and fifty years it now remained in the possession of the Welsh until, on the death of Anarawd ap Roderic, in 913, the Welsh line of Manx kings came to an end, after lasting for nearly four hundred years.
During the later years of the Welsh rule the Isle of Man, like all the neighbouring coasts, had been troubled by the destructive incursions of the barbarians of the North, commonly identified with the Danes, who displaced the Saxons from a very large region in England, and established a dynasty which reigned over the whole country for a considerable time. They also founded a kingdom in Ireland, and another, which comprised the Hebrides, and the Isle of Man. These Northmen came from Norway, and the reasons which drove them to leave their native mountains, and rove about the seas in quest of plunder and devastation were chiefly threethe law of primogeniture, which compelled younger brothers to seek an establishment where they could; the poverty of a wild, rugged country, where the means of subsistence were very limited; and finally a great despotic measure adopted by the King of Norway, Harold Harfager, who seized the estates of the old landed proprietors, and turned them all into tenants of the Crown. Hence emigration, if one can by that name call plundering expeditions and piratical settlements, took place very extensively from Norway, and brought about the changes we are now considering in the Western world. The Norwegian nobles, -unsuccessful in their attempts to resist the tyrannical measures of Harold, fled into Iceland and the Western islands, from whence they made incursions into his kingdorm,.and harassed his newly-constituted government. Determined to put down these disorders, Harold collected it powerful fleet, and in 888 invaded the Hebrides, making an indiscrimi nate slaughter of all who came in his way. Unable to resist, the Hebridean chiefs fled, with their followers, to the mainland, and the king, after ravaging the islands, including Man, returned home, leaving a strong garrison behind him. After his departure the Hebrideans and the Manx returned to their desolated homes, and having destroyed the Norwegian garrisons, once more resumed their destructive incursions into the kingdom of Norway. Undeterred by the failure of his first attempt, Harold despatched a second expedition, under Ketill Flatnefr, or Flatnose, who successfully carried out his commission and reduced the islanders to submission. But finding himself at the head of a strong force, he threw off his allegiance to the King of Norway, and declared himself sovereign of the Hebrides. The kingdom thus founded by Ketill about 890 extended from Man to the Orkneys, and on his death, soon after, he was succeeded in it by his son, Helgi, and his grand son, Thorstein. Recovering themselves, the islanders rose against Helgi and Thorstein, and a period of war and confusion set in, which prevents our obtaining a distinct view of the condition of the Island. In 913, we are informed, a great battle was fought off the coast of Man between Barred OKivan and Rysnald Macivar, and a numerous fleet of Danish pirates who had made a descent upon the country; and knowing the ruthless character of these terrible sea kings, and the devastation which they invariably committed wherever they went, we can easily realise the miserable condition to which Man had been reduced by these long-continued wars, and which made its people welcome with transports the Icelandic hero Orry.
This celebrated sea king, having first subdued the Orkneys and Hebrides, arrived on the shores of Man with a fleet of strong ships, and landed at the Lhen-mooar, then a large and convenient inlet on the northern coast, through which the waters of the Sulby poured themselves into the sea, but now dry and silted up. There is a legend that he landed on a clear, starlight night, and that he was asked by the natives whence he came. He replied, pointing to the Milky Way, which glittered bright in the heavens, "That is the road to my country," from which reason the Milky Way is still proverbially called in the Manx language, "Raad mooar ree Goree," or "The great road of King Goree." He established himself as King of Man and the Isles, and introduced into the country the legislative institution which exists to the present day, the House of Keys; divided the Island into six districts, called sheadings or shires; and caused the laws to be committed to writing, whereas before, as among the Irish and other Celtic nations, they had been merely unwritten usages administered at the discretion of the judges With the arrival of this king began great changes both in the character of the people and of their story. His fair-haired followers amalgamating with the remnant of the ancient Celtic inhabitants formed the stock of a new and hardier race of Manxmen, whose great deeds were soon to cast a bright, though transient., lustre over their chequered story. Hitherto, the Celtic Manx, sharing that prejudice against the sea so common to their race, seemed to have shunned the stormy seas which surrounded their shores, and, comparatively few in number and of simple habits, to have lived upon the produce of their woods and streams, and the few patches of land which they rudely cultivated. But the Norse emigration infused a new and more vigorous spirit into the national life. No longer shunning the sea and seeking safety in obscurity behind their towering cliffs and thick sea-fogs, they boldly launched their galleys, and, sailing over the white-crested waves, wrung from the foreigner that wealth which their own niggard land denied. [he political position of the Island, too, during this period greatly assisted the growth of the Manx power. Its "Danish" kings, in addition to the Isle of Man, which was the chief seat of their authority and their principal residence, ruled over the western islands of Scotland, and, during a portion of this period at least, over the Danes of Dublin. In fact, though they acknowledged a feudal dependence on the kings of Norway, they were the most powerful of all the petty Norse kings of the time, and, from the character and extent of their dominions and the restless energy of their subjects, were at the head of a force which would be thought considerable even now, and which in those days was almost irresistible. At the head of their numerous fleets, and with their ensign of a ship in full sail waving proudly at their mast-head, the Kings of Man and the Isles swept over the narrow seas, the terror and the scourge of the surrounding countries, and dreaded by even the most powerful kings of England, who were glad, by nominally taking them into their service, to buy off their hostility, and prevent their ravages.
With this, the Heroic Age of Manx story, the name of Orry, the Icelandic conqueror of Man, and the founder of its "Danish" line of kings, is pre eminently associated. He is the great hero of the Manx, and round his name clusters everything of value or glory in their history or constitution. He found their country wasted and its inhabitants almost exterminated by the mutual struggles of its neighbours. He freed it from its foreign invaders, restored peace and prosperity to its miserable people, and made them strong and a terror to those who had wasted and destroyed them. He found them wretched, and degraded, and famine. struck. He raised them again in the scale of nations, and made them prosperous and happy. Instead of hiding behind their rocks and marshes, or flying for safety to the recesses of their mountains, at the sight of an enemys sail, under him and his successors they boldly issued from their creeks and harbours, and, carrying fire and sword among those who had so terribly oppressed them, retaliated a portion at least of the suffering they had so long endured. In the centuries of war and devastation which had passed over their land their ancient liberties had been destroyed, and those mild and equitable laws which had been the glory of their "Golden Age" had utterly perished. He introduced new laws equally just, and liberties larger and better suited to their condition, under whose equal rule they and their children have lived until now. Owing all this to their great Norse King, or believing that they did, it is easy to understand how it is that their country is so full of traces of his presence, and why their chronicles and legendary songs so lovingly record his advent among them and his great deeds on their behalf. So far, the popular belief. How far that belief is warranted by fact it is impossible to say. Some have attempted to deny his historical existence altogether, and have looked upon him as one of the many mythical personages of history embodying the results brought about by a long succession of actual individuals. Others, again, accept almost without abatement the popular belief, and seriously ascribe to him the deliverance of the Island from its degradation and the establishment in it of its existing constitutional form of government. Probably the actual truth lies midway between the two. Of the actual existence of such a king as the head of a considerable Norse immigration into the almost depopulated Island, that he was the first of a long line of active, ener getic princes, and the founder of the glory of the Island as the centre of a powerful "Danish" kingdom, there can be, we think, little reasonable doubt. But of the details of his life, or the place and manner of his death, nothing certain is known; though it may be probable that he died in the country of his adoption, and that the ancient mound, with its huge monolith, on the hill-side above the beautiful Glen of Laxey, which from time immemorial has been associated with his name, contained his relics until it was barbarously destroyed :some years ago. But, again, it is equally certain that many of the changes ascribed to him could not have been brought about by him alone, since, from their nature and the circumstances of the case, they must have been the results of a long course of gradual improvement and the work of a succession of individuals. As in the case of Alfred of England, who lived about the same time, his reputation owes a great deal to the circumstances of the period in which he lived. His form stands out in glorious relief against the blackness of the miserable times which preceded and came after him, and it has attracted to itself the lustre of all the blessings which flowed into the country from the strength and vigour imported into it by his coming. Before him were wars and misery, famine and death. After him came wars even more destructive, miseries even more wretched, famines still more devouring, deaths yet more terrible. Only in his time, and in that of his immediate successors, were there peace, and freedom, and prosperity; and hence the glorious achievements ascribed to him, and the veneration with which his name has ever been regarded in the Isle of Man.
We have entered thus fully into this question on account of its great interest, and also because of its great importance to a right apprehension of the subsequent transactions in Manx history.
AD. 940.Orry was succeeded on his death, the date of which isuncertain, by his son Guthred, the founder of Castle Rushen. His death, in 960, was followed by a period of great disorder, occasioned mainly by the weakness and turbulence of his successors, Reginald, Olave, Olain, Allan, Fingall, and Goddard, of whom one was assassinated, another put to death at Dron theim on a charge of treason against the King of Norway, to whom the insular sovereign owed a feudal homage, a third slain in Ireland, and a fourth poisoned. In 974 we find Hacon, King of Man He was the most powerful naval sovereign of the age, possessing, it is said, a fleet of 3,600 ships, with which he swept the British seas of the piratical sea kings who at that period sorely harrassed the coasts of Britain. Hacon had for his armorial bearing a ship in full sail, with the motto "Rex Manniae et Insularum," which continued to be the ensign of the kings of Man till the time of the Scottish Conquest (AD. 1270), when they were changed by Alexander for the present quaint three legs, with the motto, "Quocunque jeceris stabit," surrounding them with a garter. Hacon was one of the eight vassal.kings of Edgar, King of the Anglo-Saxons, who on the river Dee rowed in the royal barge, Edgar himself holding the helm. Hacon was succeeded in 986 by his brother Goddard II His reign was troubled by repeated incursions of the Danes, who, in 988, landed in great force and defeated the Manx in a great battle, in which, it is said, a thousand men were slain. Next year a fresh horde landed in the Island, defeated Goddard in a second disastrous battle, and after ravaging the country, sailed northward with their plunder. Returning again in the following summer, they overthrew the Manx in a third great battle, in which Dungall, the son of Goddard, was killed. In 996, Goddard was succeeded by his son Reginald, in whose reign the Out Isles (the Hebrides) were conquered from the Manx by Sigurd, Earl of Orkney. Kenneth, brother of Reginald, however, recovered them from the Orcadians, and at his death they quietly reverted to the Manx Crown. On the death of Reginald, in 1004, he was succeeded by his son Suibne, whose reign was marked by the disastrous battle of Clontarf, in 1014, in which the Danes of Dublin and the Isles were defeated by the Irish, and the Manx auxiliaries almost entirely destroyed. Thus weakened, Suibne was unable to resist the renewed attacks of the Earl of Orkney, and appears to hare been slain in 1034 in an unsuccessful attempt to defend the Out Isles against Earl Torfinn, who, on the overran the Hebrides and annexed them to his earldom of Orkney. Suibne was succeeded by Harold I., who reigned until 1040, when he was followed by Goddard III., the last King of Man of the House of Orry. The whole of this latter period is one of great confusion and uncertainty; wars carried on in foreign lands alternating with wars waged to repel invasions of their own territories. In these unceasing conflicts the Manx suffered greatly. Vast numbers of the people were slain, and the Island was repeatedly ravaged and plundered both by the Northmen and by the Irish. The power of the Manx kings had steadily declined from these causes, and thus the way was prepared for a second conquest of the country by the Northmen.
Among the many potent causes of the success of the Norman invasion of England under William of Normandy was the expedition of the Norwegians into Northumbria, under Harold, in 1066. In this descent upon England, Harold was assisted by a strong Manx contingent, few of whom escaped the disastrous issue of the war. After carrying fire and sword along the coasts of England, the Norwegian fleet, which had been joined off the coast of Northumbria by Tostig, the brother of Harold of England, with a reinforcement of sixty ships, sailed up the Humber, when the troops disembarked and marched into the interior, ravaging the country wherever they advanced. At Stamford Bridge they were met by Harold of England, who had hurried up with his forces from the south, where he had been watching the Normans, and totally defeated, Harold Harfagr and Tostig both being killed in the battle. One of the results of this great victory was the capture of the entire Norwegian fleet, but the conqueror had the generosity to give Olave, the son of Harfagr, his liberty, and allow him to depart with twenty vessels. On his way home, with this small remnant of the great fleet of 300 ships which had so recently quitted the shores of Man, he stopped at that Island, and was received with great hospitality by the reigning king, Goddard. Among the followers of Olave who thus shared the hospitality of the Manx king was Goddard Crovan, or Chrouban, son of Harold the Black, of Iceland. During his stay in the Island he had time and opportunity to observe its defenceless state and also the unpopularity of the king, and he soon began to plan how to turn these circumstances to his own advantage. Returning to his own country, he raised a great fleet, and invaded the Island, where he found Fingall, the son and successor of Goddard, on the throne. He was, however, boldly met by the Manx, and forced to retreat to his ships. A second time he assembled a fleet, and a second time was put to flight. But in a third invasion he was more successful. Having anchored in Ramsey Bay in 1077, he landed his troops by night, and placed an ambuscade of 300 men in a wood on Skye Hill, above Ramsey. Early next morning the Manx, with their young king, Fingall, at their head, rushed upon the foe with great impetuosity, in the confident hope of again driving them to their ships or into the sea; and, notwithstanding the ambuscade attacking them unexpectedly in their rear, the Islanders fought with such bravery that the issue of the conflict long remained doubtful. At length, when the young king fell, boldly facing the foe, his followers fell into confusion, and were driven by the invaders into the river Sulby, which was then swollen by the influx of the tide, where a great part of them perished. Dismayed by these disasters, the relics of the Manx army submitted unconditionally to the conqueror, who had sufficient remembrance of the kindness he had received among them to spare their lives. Next day he gave his followers the choice of either settling in the Island or of enriching themselves by its plunder, and so returning home. They preferred the latter, and accordingly, after devastating the whole Island, the great bulk of them returned to Norway. Godred then assigned to a few that remained the southern part of the Island, and to its remaining inhabitants the northern part, on the express condition of their being tenants at will, "and that none of them, or their Lheirs, should ever presume to claim any part of it by way of inheritance." We shall see later what use was made of this summary arrangement of the northern conqueror, by a more civilised but not less arbitrary ruler, six centuries later. Goddard Crovan reigned sixteen years, and was evidently a sovereign of that aggressive and overbearing, yet commanding, temperament which in that age was characteristic of the Northmen. He conquered Dublin and a great part of Leinster, brought the Western Isles, with Orkney and Shetland, under subjection, and is said to have so reduced the Scots that they did not dare to build vessels with more than three nails or bolts in them. He died at Isla in 1093, where he had gone with all his forces to resist the triumphant progress of Magnus Barefoot, King of Norway, who had overrun all his northern dominicns, and was threatening the conquest of Man itself, leaving behind him three sons, Lagman, Harold, and Olave Kleining, of whom the first was his immediate successor. Having completed the subjugation of the Hebrides, Magnus sailed southward to Man, the remaining inhabitants of which fled to Galloway at his approach, and thus the Island fell an easy prey to the northern monarch. Leaving behind him as Jarl, or Governor, Outher, or Octtar, a Norwegian nobleman, he soon after returned home. Becoming obnoxious to the Norwegian inhabitants of the south, Octtar was deposed by them, and Macmanus, or Macmarus, elected in his stead. The Northerners, adhering to Octtar, a civil war broke out, which was carried on with great fury. From the names of the leaders, Jan Octtar and Macmanus, Norwegian and Celtic respectively, it has been conjectured with some show of probability that this must have been an attempt on the part of the Manx to shake off the Norwegian yoke, rather than a fight between the Northern and Southern Islands. At last, in 1098, a decisive battle was fought at Santwart, or St. Patricks Isle, in Jurby, in which both leaders were killed and the contending parties almost exterminated, in connection with this destructive conflict it is related that during the fight, when the party of Macmanus were on the point of driving their opponents off the field, the Northern women rushed to the scene of action, like the Celtic women of old, and by their presence and encouragement changed the issue of the fight. As a reward for the bravery of the Northern Amazons, it was afterwards enacted by the Insular Government, that "of all goods immoveable, not having any life, the wives shall have the halfe on the north side; whereas on the south side shall receive only one-third."
At this juncture Magnus arrived a second time in the Island, which he found a most appalling spectacle. The scene of the late sanguinary con flict was strewed with the mangled corpses of the slain of both parties; the whole island was a desert, well nigh depopulated by war and famine; and the few inhabitants who remained were living in caves and under ground huts. So wretched was their condition that even Magnus, inured as he was to bloodshed and misery, commiserated them, and took some steps to improve their condition. After a short stay in Man to refit his ships, Magnus re-embarked his troops, and sailed for Anglesea, which he subjugated, defeating the English army sent to oppose him, under the command of Hugh, Earl of Shrewsbury. He next attempted the conquest of Ireland, and, connected with this, an amusing story is told in the Chronicles of the Kings of Man. Murtough, the King of Dublin, was a prince noted in his day for his pacific disposition, and Magnus, learning his character, sent him his old shoes, with the insulting command that he should carry them on his shoulders through his palace on Christmas Day, in presence of the Norwegian messengers, in token of submission. The Irish people received this insolent command with great wrath, but the peaceable Murtough said that he was prepared not only to carry the shoes on his shoulders, but to eat them, rather than that Magnus should ruin a single province of Ireland. He consequently complied with the order, and sent back the messengers loaded with rich presents. The Norwegian envoys bringing back to the Island a glowing account of the delightfulness of Ireland, of its fertility, and the salubrity of its climate, directed the attention of their monarch to the subjugation of that country. King Magnus thereupon gathered a fleet for the in vasion, and was soon steering along the Irish coast. Proceeding with sixteen galleys to reconnoitre the shores, he incautiously landed at a place where he was immediately surrounded by the Irish and slain, with all his party, A.D. 1103.
On the death of Magnus, his fourth son, Harold Gyllie, claimed the crown of Man, but the Islanders rejected his claim, and in 1104 Lagman, son of Goddard Crovan, succeeded to the throne. Being of a suspicious and cruel disposition, he soon made himself obnoxious to his subjects, and his barbarous treatment of his brother Harold so inflamed the general discontent, that he was compelled to abdicate the throne and undertake a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, from which he never returned. His successor was his youngest brother, Olave Kleining, who had been re siding at the Court of Henry I. of England, whose granddaughter, Affrica (daughter of Fergus, the powerful lord of Galloway), afterwards became his wife. The Island still remained a fief of Norway, and Olave, after his establishment upon the throne, found it prudent to proceed to Drontheim and do homage for his kingdom. His long reign of forty years is marked by few events of importance, but its close was marked by a rebellion, headed by the three sons of his elder brother Harold, who demanded a moiety of the kingdom in right of their father. Olave appointed a con ference with them on the day of the festival of St. Peter and St. Paul (A.D. 1154), and on the appointed day proceeded with a small retinue to Ramsey, where the hostile party was assembled. As he approached, Reginald, one of his three rebellious nephews, stepped forward as if to enter upon a conference with his uncle; but as Olave turned to salute him, the traitor raised his battle-axe and at one blow severed his head from his body. He was a prince of an amiable disposition, an4 ruled his kingdom with wisdom and discretion, doing his utmost to soften the temper and humanise the actions of his turbulent and savage subjects. He was a great friend to the clergy, whom he assisted as far as he was able; he divided the tithes into three portions "to the Bishop he gave one-third for his maintenance; to the Abbey of Rushen one-third for the education of youth and relief of the poor; and to the parochial clergy he gave the remaining third for their subsistence."
By the assistance of his grandfather, Fergus, lord of Galloway, Godred II. succeeded in establishing himself upon the Manx throne. His first act was to punish his fathers murderers, Reginald being put to death, and his two brothers blinded and imprisoned. His accession was welcomed by the great bod of the nation; but, soon displaying the natural severity of his ch , his government became unpopular. Encouraged by this circu tance, his brother-in-law, Somerled, Jarl, or Marmor of Argyle, a restless and ambitious man, overran the Hebrides, and was sailing towards Man with a powerful fleet when .he was met by Godred in Ramsey Bay, and a severe but indecisive battle ensued. Next day a compromise was effected between the two competitors by which the Manx Hebrides were ceded to Somerled. From this time (AD. 1156) the Kingdom of the Isles was never afterwards united under one sovereign. Two years later Somerled made a second expedition against Godred, and possessed himself of the Isle of Man. Godred fled to Norway, where he resided six years till the death of Somerled, in 1164, when he returned to take possession again of his throne in Man. Here he found his natural brother, Reginald, prepared to dispute the sovereignty. A battle was fought at Ramsey, in which Reginald was successful; but in a second battle, which took place four days afterwards, he was defeated and taken by Godred, who barbarously mutilated him, and put out his eyes. He soon after married Fiugala, daughter of McLaughlin, King of Ireland. He died in 1187, and was buried in Iona.
Godred left only one legitimate son, Olave, surnamed the Black, who being only thirteen years of age at the time of his fathers death, the Manx made his illegitimate brother Reginald king, as it was not uncommon in those troublous times for that member of a royal house to succeed to the throne who was supposed to be best able to defend himself and his people. Reginald seems to have thoroughly kept up the traditions of the old Norwegian sea-kings, and it was his boast that for three continuous years he had never inhabited a house, but had always been on board his ship. Reginalds reign, however, a long one, was greatly disturbed by wars in which he thoughtlessly engaged, and by the rival claims set up on the part of his brother Olave. The latters claims he at length com promised by surrendering to him the Island of Lewis, and when he again began to be troublesome, by procuring his imprisonment in Marchmont Castle, A.D. 1208. On his liberation in 1214, Olave went on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James of Compostella. On his return he again took up his residence in his barren kingdom of Lewis. The closing years of Reginalds reign are noteworthy as the period when the kings of England began to exert a commanding influence in the affairs of the Kingdom of Man. In 1205 he submitted to John, King of England, as his feudal superior, who, in return, granted him a knights fee in Ireland; and in 1219 Henry III. granted to him letters of safe conduct to come into England to do him homage for his crown. Not satisfied, however, with being the subject King of Henry, this vacillating usurper infamously surrendered his dominions to the Pope (Honorius III), in order to hold his crown from the See of Rome. Yet it was all to no purpose. Olave daily gained ground, and on his presenting himself in the Isle of Man (A.D. 1224), under the conduct of Paul Balkason, Sheriff of Skye, Reginald was glad to yield to him one-half the Kingdom of the Isles. Soon after the Manx, disgusted with the weakness and tyranny of Reginald, invited Olave into the island and placed the crown upon his head. Two years later (1229) Reginald, attempting to recover his crown, was slain in a decisive battle at the Tynwald Hill.
Notwithstanding the homage which his predecessor had rendered for the Island to the Holy See, Olave appears still to have submitted to the Norwegian suzerainty, and in 1230 he repaired to the Court of Norway and did homage to Haco Hagenson, the reigning monarch. Haco had previously appointed Uspak, a grandson of Somerled (to whom he gave his own name, Haco), to be his lieutenant in the Out-Isles, with orders to put down some disorders which had arisen among their turbulent inhabi tants. Olave, on his return from Drontheim, joined his fleet to that of Haco-Uspak; but after the death of Uspak, who was killed in an attack on the Island of Bate, he returned to Man. Soon after he again divided the kingdom with Godred Don, son of his brother Reginald, he retaining Man and the Sodor Isles, and his nephew taking the Out-Isles. Upon the death of Godred Don, in 1233, Olave again assumed the sovereignty of the Out-Isles, and in 1236 he visited the Court of Henry III., and did homage for his kingdom. During this visit it appears that he received a commission for the defence of the English and Irish coasts; but as he soon after became involved in the troubles which had arisen in Galloway, it does not appear that he ever performed the duties named in the com mission. Olave died in 1237, and was buried in Rushen Abbey.
Olave was succeeded by his eldest son, Harold, who attempted to throw off the Norwegian yoke; but being defeated by an expedition sent by Haco, he was obliged to submit, and proceeded, in 1240, to Bayen, and rendered the -customary homage for his kingdom, which was then con firmed to him. In 1247, on the invitation of Henry III., he visited the Court of England, where he was honoured with the order of knighthood. In the same year he proceeded to Norway a second time, and received from Elaco his daughter Cecilia in marriage. On their return from Norway they were overtaken by a sudden storm, in which they were cast on the Shetland Isles, and all the party perished, A.D. 1249.
On the death of Harold the government was assumed by his younger brother Reginald, but a fortnight later he was slain in Rushen by the knight Ivan, a supposed illegitimate son of Godred, and a brother of the usurper, Reginald. He left only one child, a daughter, named Mary.
After a period of civil disturbance, Magnus, the third and youngest son of Olave Godredson, succeeded in 1256, and his accession was confirmed by both Haco, King of Norway, and by Henry III., by the latter of whom he was knighted as his brother had been. The early part of his reign presents no feature of special interest or importance, except that his situation was gradually becoming more critical, owing to the growing rivalry of the Kings of Scotland and Norway. In 1263, Haco, alarmed at the preparations Alexander was making for the conquest of the Western Isles, sailed for the Hebrides with the most formidable armament that had ever left the shores of Norway. Magnus, in obedience to the orders of Haco, joined him in the Sound of Isla with the Manx contingent; but after the decisive battle of Largs, in which Haco was disastrously defeated, Magnus, despairing of help from the Norwegian King (who, broken-hearted at his losses and worn out by the fatigues of the expedition, had retired to Kirkwall, in Orkney, where he died a few weeks after), and unable to resist the power of Alexander single-handed, met that monarch at Dumfries when on his way to invade Man, and did homage to him for his kingdom, A.D. 1264. Next year he died in his castle at Rushen without issue, and was buried in the Abbey Church of St. Mary of Rushen, which he had finished and caused to be dedicated. He was the last of the descendants of Goddard Crovan in the male line. There were altogether nine kings of Man of this dynasty, and their rule extended over a period of nearly two centuries. Next year a treaty was signed at Perth between Alexander and Magnus, the successor of Haco, by which the latter ceded Man and the Islands to the Scottish Crown, "with all right to the Episcopacy of Man - . . . which the King of Norway possessed." The Island did not long remain subject to Scotland, Edward I., in 1290, taking it under his protection at the request of its inhabitants. Upon this, two rival pretenders to the sovereignty of Man appeared, and preferred their claims in the English courtsMary, the daughter of Reginald, and Aufrica, the youngest sister of Magnus, the last King of Man of the Race of Goddard Crovan; but at length the claims of both were merged in the person of Sir William Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, who having dispossessed the Scots of the Island, by the aid of Edward III., was crowned King of Man in 1344. In 1393 the Earl sold his kingdom to Stir William Scroope, Earl of Wiltshire, on whose attainder and execution for treason in 1399, Henry IV. granted the Isle to Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, who was four years after also attainted and banished. Upon this a more stable dynasty came in. A daring and adventurous knight, who had distinguished himself at Poitiers, and was one of the most valued adherents of Henry IV., Sir John Stanley, on the 6th of April, 1406, received from that monarch a grant of the Kingdom of Man, to him and his heirs for ever, "with all the regalities, franchises, and rights belonging thereto, with the patronage of the bishopric, under the title of the King of Man," upon the feudal service of presenting a cast of falcons to the Kings of England on their coronation-day.