[from D. Robertson, Tour, 1794]
A REVIEW OF THE MANKS HISTORY, FROM THE DEATH OF GODRED, THE SON OF OLAVE, TO THE SCOTTISH CONQUEST.
THE long and happy tranquillity which the Manks enjoyed, under the government of Godred the son of Olave, was soon disturbed by the contests of his sons for the diadem of the Isles.
REGINALD, the eldest, being illegitimate, Olave was elected king: but as the former was of a mature age, and of a bold, subtle, and politic genius, he soon triumphed over his younger brother. The Usurper then banished the young Prince to the Isle of Lewis; among the barren solitudes of which he and his faithful adherents were almost famished. From misfortune the mind sometimes derives new vigour. Olave, instead of yielding to increasing hardships, was ambitious of combating them. He returned to Man, and boldly remonstrated with Reginald; but the tyrant, so far from mitigating, heightened his sufferings. The Prince was delivered as a captive to the King of Scotland; and by his severity was for seven years imprisoned and loaded with chains. On the death of that Monarch he was liberated: and being sup ported by several of the Nobility of the Isles, he again returned to Man; and soon afterwards obtained a moiety of the kingdom. Reginald retained the government of Man, and part of the Western Isles was ceded to the younger brother. The pride of the Usurper being however severely wounded by this division of the Isles, he attempted again to subject them to his dominion: but unable to atchieve this act of injustice, he sailed for Scotland to solicit the assistance of the Lord of Galloway. Emboldened by the absence, and impatient of the barbarity and oppression of Reginald, the Manks invited
OLAVE to the throne; who, on his return, was welcomed by the people with reiterated shouts of heart-felt joy.
Reginald, thus exiled from his kingdom by the voice of the nation, visited the court of England; and to recover his crown, proffered homage to King John, and submission to the Pope. Relying on their protection, and assisted by the Lord of Galloway and the Earl of Athol, he conducted a ferocious army to desolate a country, from which his crimes had expelled him. Olave being then absent in the more remote Isles, accompanied by the flower of his Nobility and Soldiery; the Isle of Man was thus exposed to the inhumanities of a tyrant, gloNving with revenge, and to the lust and brutality of his barbarous army. Having for the present satiated his vengeance, by murdering the men, ravishing the women, burning the churches, &c. &c. he fled from the just resentment and indignation of his brother, who speedily returned to save his kingdom: from utter devastation. However, in the ensuing winter, Reginald again returned with a few vessels, and at midnight burnt all the shipping belonging to Olave and the Nobility of the Isles, which was then lying at anchor under Peel-Castle. He then sailed to Derby-Haven, and, pretending to solicit reconciliation with his brother, by his bold demeanour and subtle insinuations, seduced many of the inhabitants from their loyalty to him. Notwithstanding this defection of many of his subjects, the men of the northern division were determined to conquer, or die, with Olave. A civil war was thus begun, which was terminated by a dreadful combat near the site of the Tynwald. Reginald fell in the battle: and probably over the relics of him and his followers, that noble Tumulus (afterwards distinguished as the throne of legislation to the kingdom of Man) was reared by his pious brother.
Thus fell the tyrant Reginald, whose abilities were great, but his vices greater. As a Prince he was brave and politic; as a King cruel and oppressive; as an Exile intrepid and adventurous; and as a Conqueror inhumanly atrocious. His claim to real valour is greatly diminished by his voluntary homage to John, King of England, and his pusillanimous submission to the Pope. Per haps in comparing his character with that of John, his cotemporary, there may appear a great similitude. Both princes were treacherous, subtle, and adventurous. The English Monarch gained the crown by the murder of his nephew: and the Manks Prince by the exile of his brother: and as they obtained the government by injustice, so they lost it by oppression. Both offended the clergy; insulted the nobility; and violated the rights and possessions of the people. Both annihilated their regal dignity by submission to the Pope; and both have now, with great justice, been consigned to perpetual infamy
After the death of Reginald, Olave enjoyed some years of prosperous tranquillity, revered and beloved by his subjects*. He died at Peel-Castle, in ~37, and was succeeded by his son,
HAROLD; a youth whose personal and mental accomplishments recommended him to the esteem and affection of his subjects. Soon after his accession he sailed to Norway, and paid homage to that Monarch for the diadem of the Isles. Having thus acknowledged his dependence on the Norwegian crown, he was solicitous to promote the security and happiness of his kingdom, by forming alliances with the neighbouring princes. By Henry the Third he was invited into Eng land; and so highly was he esteemed by that Monarch, that he conferred on him the honour of knighthood. Soon after, he received an invitation from Haco, King of Norway; and in his court was entertained with splendid festivity, while to crown the honours thus conferred upon him, he married the lovely daughter of the Norwe gian Monarch. But how fleeting is human happiness ! Returning to the kingdom of Man, with his young and beautiful Princess, attended by a numerous train of Nobility of both sexes, they perished by shipwreck on the coast of Ireland! This Prince was succeeded, in 1249, by his brother,
who was soon after sacrificed to the revenge of the Knight Ivar, as more fully narrated in the historical account of Rushen-Abbey(2). Reginald's successor was his brother,
who being raised to the throne by the voice of the nation, was confirmed thereon by the King of Norway. Magnus was the last Prince of the Norwegian line in Mona. He died in 1265, and was buried in the Abbeychurch of Rushen; which some years before, Richard, Bishop of the Isles, at the command of Magnus, had dedicated to the blessed Virgin.
From the beginning of the tenth century, to the death of Magnus, the kingdom of Man (to which were usually annexed the Western Isles of Scotland) was governed by a race of Danish or Norwegian Princes; chiefly subject to the homage, and fre quently to the controul, of the Crown of Norway. But the period had now arrived, when these Isles should submit to another Conqueror.
Norway for five hundred years had spread terror and devastation through Europe: had given Dukes to Normandy; Kings to Sicily and Man; and Conquerors to England. But, by these foreign conquests and establishments, her real strength was so exhausted, that she soon yielded to the more powerful kingdom of Denmark. Alexander the Third, King of Scotland, an active and politic Prince, soon regained the Hebrides (3), which had formerly been wrested from his ancestors by the Norwegian arms: and Mona, no longer protected by the Crown of Norway, in 1266, increased the honours of his Conquest(4).
1: See Chap. VII of the Tour.
2: To secure by policy, what he had obtained by conquest, Alexander engaged to give Magnus, then King of Norway, 4ooo marks for renouncing all title to the dominion of the Isles; besides a sum of l00 marks to be paid annually, by himself and his successors for ever, in the church of St. Magnus in the Orkneys,
3 According to some traditions, Ivar, favoured by the widow of Magnus, assumed the government of Man; and after opposing with great heroism the Scottish invasion, fell with five hundred and thirty-seven gallant warriors, who scorned to survive the liberty of their country.
4 For defending the sea-coast, Henry the Third, in 1236, granted Olave 40 Marks, l00 Carters of Corn, and 5 Tuns of Wine annually; so long as he should perform that service. As the power of the Norwegian Crown began to decline, the Scotch seemed to have meditated a descent on the Isles; which probably forced the Kings at this period to solicit the protection of England.