[from D. Robertson, Tour, 1794]
A REVIEW OF THE MANKS HISTORY, FROM THE NORWEGIAN CONQUEST TO THE DEATH OF GODRED THE SON OF OLAVE.
ON the day after the battle,(A.D. 1066)Godred assembling his army, submitted to their choice,either to divide the lands among themselves, and reside here; or to plunder the Isle and, and return to their own country. Many of the soldiers, eager to pillage those whom they had conquered, preferred the latter alternative; and enriching themselves by rapine, returned home with the spoils their ferocity had acquired. But others of greater spirit and policy being desirous of sharing in a foreign land, the fortunes of a Chief who had led them to conquest, he divided among Alum the south department of the Island; while the northern division he granted to the natives, on express condition, that no man should ever claim any inheritance. Thus, Godred, having conquered, soon began to enslave the people.
Tyrants are ever suspicious of their subjects; and as they know that peace is favourable to reflection, and reflection to liberty, they usually precipitate them into a foreign war; thereby, confirming oppression at home, and spreading devastation in other countries. With this policy (of which our modern princes seem so ambitious) Godred was not unacquainted. Observing a spirit of discontent rising among his subjects, he formed the young and vigorous into a fine army, with which he successfully invaded Dublin, and then returned to the Island, loaden with the spoils of conquest.
The western Scots having however checked him in his career of victory, Godred equipped a considerable fleet to resent these hostilities. He awed a part of Scotland, and subdued the Hebrides: but the honour acquired by these new victories he did not long enjoy; for he soon after died in one of those Islands which had lately submitted to him.
He was majestic in his person; noble in his aspect; and of a bold, penetrating, and politic genius. To the feelings of mercy he was not wholly insensible; but the principles of justice he accounted trifles beneath the regard and dignity of one, who, by his heroism and policy, had seated himself on a foreign throne.
Godred, (A. D. body,) was succeeded by his eldest son,
who having murdered his brother Harold, on suspicion of promoting a rebellion among the soldiery, resigned his crown for the cross: and, according to the devotional absurdity of those ages, undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, as an expiation for his fraternal barbarity. He died at Jerusalem; (A. D. Dog,) and his youngest brother,
the third son of Godred the Conqueror, being then very young, the Nobility of the Isles sent to Murcard O'Brian, King of Ireland; soliciting him to appoint some person of royal descent, as regent of the kingdom during Olave's minority. In compliance with their request, the King sent Donald Tade, who, for his oppression and barbarity, was soon expelled the Island by an indignant people. Olave, their natural Prince, was then a youth in the court of Henry the First: and the Chiefs of the Isles being anxious to seat on the throne a man of mature abilities, elected Mac Manis(1), whose merit amply sanctioned their choice. From the pride and jealousy of Earl Outher, a conspiracy was however, (A. D. ..,) formed against him; and in the combat which it occasioned, both the Prince and conspirator, with many of their partizans, were slain. By this civil contest the kingdom being considerably weakened, it became an easy prey to Magnus, King of Norway; who, influenced by an absurd superstition, resigned his own crown, and spread havock and rapine through the neighbouring countries. He reigned for six years in this Island; but in attempting the reduction of Ireland, he was surrounded by the natives, and with the greater part of his followers, after fighting with astonishing valour, was at length slain.
Upon his death, (A.D. 1202) the Nobility of the Isles sent a solemn and splendid embassy to Olave, their hereditary Prince; who to youth and beauty united a graceful deportment, with a gallant and generous mind. Being esteemed by the surrounding Princes, and beloved by his own subjects, his reign for many years was just, tranquil, and happy(2). But at length resolving to visit the King of Norway, (probably with the intention of doing homage for his crown) on his return, he found his kingdom agitated by the violence and intrigues of his three nephews, who had now a considerable army at their command. Being perhaps more anxious for the peace and welfare of his subjects, than the maintenance of his regal dignity, Olave proposed an accommodation with his nephews. The two armies accordingly encamped near Ramsay, at a little distance from each other. Between the armies, the King, the Princes, and their respective Nobility assembled. During their deliberation, Reginald, one of the Princes, pretending to salute the King, with one blow of his battle-ax beheaded him; while this detestable act was only a signal for the general slaughter of his nobility, and the most ferocious oppression of his subjects.
But the crimes of these atrocious brothers did not long elude the vengeance they merited: for
GVDRED, the son of Olave, in 1143, returning from the Norwegian court where he had been left by his father, the whole Island spontaneously submitted to him; and with unanimous consent, delivered to his vengeance the three sons of Harold: two of whom were deprived of their eyes, and the murderer of the King publickly executed. When Godred assumed the government of his kingdom, he was in the bloom of youth and beauty; majestic in his stature; magnanimous in his sentiments; and heroic in his actions. These graces, uniting with a remenbrance of his father's virtues, gained the adoration of his own subjects, and the admiration of the neighbouring kingdoms. From the celebrity of his virtue and heroism, the people of Dublin and the nobility of the Province of Leinster elefted him their King. But this singular honour involved him in various contests, and subjected him to future misfortunes. Murchard, King of Ireland, opposed him; but Godred, having routed the enemy, seated himself on the throne to which he had been raised by the suffrages of the people. His absence however occasioned discontents among his hereditary subjects; which were fomented by the factious and turbulent. To calm these he returned to Man: and having severely punished some of the disaffected; Thorfinus, a subtle, sullen, and ferocious Chief, fled to Summerled, Thane of Argyle, and brother-in-law to Godred. This bold and ambitious Prince was soon instigated by Thorfinus, to invade the Western Isles, which he soon reduced. In the mean time, Godred equipped a fleet of eighty vessels, and engaged him at sea. A dreadful conflict ensued; which terminating in a doubtful victory, occasioned a division of the kingdom of the Isles. Godred retained Man; and the other Islands were ceded to Summerled. However, in 1158, Summerled, presuming on the factions and discontents which still existed among the natives, invaded and subdued Man. The King escaped to Norway, and Summerled with much ferocity oppressed those whom he had conquered. His ambition increasing with his success, he projected the reduction of Scotland; but in attempting to land his forces he was vanquished by a small body of the inhabitants, and with his son and the greater part of his army was sacrificed to their just vengeance.
Freed from the tyranny of this usurper, the nobility and people of the Isles fondly remembered the v irtues of their hereditary Prince. His exile and sufferings had endeared him to the loyal; and from the disaffected had obliterated the remembrance of every injury. While the esteem of the people was thus directed towards Godred, the kingdom of the Isles was invaded by his illegitimate brother, Reginald. The Manks with much bravery opposed his forces; but through the treachery of one of their leaders were defeated However, on the fourth day after the battle, Godred with a numerous army arrived from Norway; and having vanguished Reginald, was received by his subjects with the most generous and loyal affection..
After his re-establishment on tie throne, he visited the more remote parts of his kingdom: and on his return to Man, (the usual residence of the Kings of the Isles) he devoted the residue of his reign to the welfare of his subjects*; until 1187, when he died, justly rendered and lamented by them.
1: At this period commences the Chronicon Manniae, which terminates with the Scottish Conquest. It was written by the Monks of Rushen-Abbey, and published by Camden in his Britannia. Its authenticity being corroborated by various testimonies. Thus, I have, with a few deviations, followed the outlines of it in this and the subsequent chapter.
2: On the celebration of his marriage with Fingala, a descendant of the Royal Faintly of Ireland, Godred endowed a small plantation of the Cistertian order at Mirescoge; (conjectured to be Balamona in Christ-Kirk Lez-Ayre) the Monks of which were afterwards incorporated with those of Rushen.
3: According to some authors his name has Mac Mares.
4: During this tranquility, he reformed the laws, and humanized the manners of his subjects. He was also liberal to the clergy. The Abbey of Rushen, founded by Mac Manis, he richly endowed in 1134, and gave to Ivin, Abbot of Furness, as a seminary for the church of the Isles; the revenue of which he divided into three portions. One third of the tythes was appropriated to the maintenance of the Bishop; the second portion to the Abbey of Rushen; and the residue to the secular clergy.