[from History of IoM, 1900]




THE first of Man's new rulers the conqueror, Godred, nicknamed Crovan or Crouan,1 was evidently, though little information about him is attainable, a remarkable man. His origin must remain uncertain : the Chronicle states that he had been "brought up amongst the Manx," 2 and Munch conjectures that he was the grandson of Godred Mac Harald, who was deprived of his dominions by Sigurd, and killed in 989,3 and that, in conquering Man, he only vindicated what he regarded as his hereditary right,4 but, judging by the time that had elapsed since Mac Harald's death, he is more likely to have been his greatgrandson, if connected with him at all. However, it is at least probable that he belonged to a royal line, since if his ancestors had not been kings, it would have been almost impossible, according to the ideas of those times, that he could have assumed that title.5 But, whatever his claims or his title, a man who, according to the Chronicle, " subdued Dublin, and a great part of Leinster, and held the Scots in such subjection that no one who built a vessel dared to insert more than three bolts,"6 was a ruler whose memory would be likely to survive in tradition. It seems probable, therefore, that Godred Crovan,rather than any of the other Godreds who ruled in the Sudreys, is the person who is commemorated in Manx legend under the name of King Gorree, or Orry. A ruler of such wide dominions as Godred possessed can hardly be supposed to have spent much of his time in the Isle of Man, and, indeed, he appears to have resided for the most part in Dublin. 7 We do not hear of his acknowledging the suzerainty of Norway, which, for some time past, had been of the most shadowy kind. A change, however, was to take place in this respect towards the end of Godred's reign, in 1093, when the Norwegian throne was ascended by the ambitious Magnus,8 surnamed Barefoot from his having adopted the kilt, who determined to reassert his supremacy over the vassal kingdom. Before a year was ended he equipped a large fleet and sailed to the Sudreys.

Shortly after his arrival, he captured Lagman, Godred's son, who had been acting as deputy in the Sudreys, and, in the following year, he assisted Murchadh, King of Leinster, to expel Godred from Dublin. 9 Munch conjectures 10 that Magnus set Lagman free on condition that both he and Godred should do homage to him as their liege lord; but there is no record of this, all that we know being that Godred died in 1095 in the Island of Islay. He left three sons, Lagman, Harald, and Olaf. Lagman, the eldest, deprived his brother Harald, who had been in rebellion against him, of his eyes. Then, probably in 1096,11 repenting of this deed, he "voluntarily resigned" his kingdom, " took the cross, and went to Jerusalem, where he died." 12 On hearing of this "all the chiefs of the Isles . . . sent messengers to Murchadh O'Brien, King of Ireland, begging of him to send some competent person of the royal race to be their king, till Olaf, son of Godred, should have grown up. The king willingly assented, and sent them one Donald, son of Teige,13 admonishing him to govern with all mildness and moderation a kingdom which was not his. Donald, however, after taking possession of the kingdom, made light of the directions of his lord, and abusing his power very tyrannically, and committing many enormities, reigned as a monster for three years, 14 after which time all the chiefs of the Isles conspired, and, rising in a body, drove him from their territory. He fled to Ireland and never returned." This looks as if Murchadh had encouraged a revolt against the authority of Magnus, who, in 1097, probably on hearing of the death of Lagman, sent Ingemund to take possession of the Sudreys. Ingemund was, however, killed by the chieftains in the Island of Lewis soon after his arrival. On hearing this, Magnus at once began to make preparations for a second expedition to subdue his unruly subjects. In 1098, there was an internecine struggle between the north and south Manx. It is probable that the Sudreyan islanders planted by Godred Crovan in the south of the island had never been on friendly terms with the natives of the north, and that they took advantage of the interregnum, after the expulsion of Donald,15 to fight out their quarrel. A battle took place at Santwat near Peel, 16 in which the north gained the victory, according to tradition, by the assistance of their women. Soon afterwards Magnus arrived 17 in Man, having subdued all the islands to the north of it, and anchored his fleet of 160 vessels off St. Patrick's Isle. He was so pleased with the fertility of the Isle of Man 18 that he " chose it for his abode, erecting forts, which to this day (i.e. circa 1260) bear his name." We find him compelling the men of Galloway to cut timber and bring it to Peel for the construction of forts there. It was from Man that he sailed to Anglesey, and, when he had subdued that island, he returned to it to winter, notwithstanding the fact that he found it " deserted." This state of things he remedied, either by bringing back the fugitives, or by supplying a population and furnishing its requirements. 19 It seems that he intended to attack Ireland in the spring of 1099, but many of his men, weary of their long absence from home, left him before the winter set in. He, consequently, did not find himself strong enough for such an adventure, and so sailed back to Norway after the winter was over. We are told that he left his son, Sigurd, as ruler of the Orkneys, while no account is given of the arrangements made for governing the Sudreys, but it is probable that they also were placed under Sigurd. During the next two years Magnus was occupied with fighting against Sweden, and it was not till 1102 that he was again able to sail southwards to Ë try conclusions with Murchadh. He landed in Man, which he again made his headquarters, and at once proceeded to attack the Irish king, who attempted no resistance and entered into negotiations. The district of Dublin was ceded to Magnus, whose son, Sigurd, now proclaimed king of both the Nordreys and the Sudreys, married Murchadli's daughter.20 In 1103, Magnus assisted Murchadh in his battles against the northern Irish. The two kings were at first successful, but were ultimately defeated, and Magnus was slain on the 24th of August in the same year. After his death, Sigurd and his followers returned to Norway, precipitately abandoning all their possessions in Ireland and the Isles.

Olaf, nicknamed Kleining, or the Dwarf, the youngest son of Godred Crovan, was then, according to the Chronicle, recalled from the English Court, where he had resided since his father's death, and " began to reign over all the isles." The date of his accession is however uncertain, some authorities placing it in 1102 or 1103, and others ten years later.21 His reign was, excepting for a raid by a Welsh prince, Cadwaller, in 1142, a period of unbroken peace, a result which was evidently secured by his wise and politic conduct in not only keeping on good terms with the English monarchs, but in maintaining "such close alliance with the Kings of Ireland and Scotland that no one ventured to disturb the kingdom of the Isles during his time." There is no account of any connexion between him and his Norwegian suzerain till 1152, and, under the circumstances mentioned, it is probable that, if it existed, it was a loose one. The occasion of its being drawn closer was a threatened attack on Man by King David of Scotland, when Olaf, feeling how insecure his throne was, sent his son Godred to do homage.

In Godred's absence the three sons of Harald, Olaf's brother, came from Dublin, where they had been brought up, to Man, with a number of followers, "and demanded from the King one half of the whole kingdom of the Isles for themselves. The King having heard their application, and being desirous to pacify them, answered that he would take advice on the subject. When the day and place for holding a meeting had been agreed upon, these most wicked men spent the interval in planning the death of the King. On the appointed day both parties met at the port called Ramsey, and sat down in order, the King and his followers on one side, and they with theirs on the other; Reginald, the second brother, who was to give the fatal blow, stood apart, speaking to one of the chiefs of the country. On being summoned to approach the King, turning to him, as if in the act of saluting, he raised his gleaming battle-axe on high, and at a blow cut off the King's head." So died Olaf, under whom the Kingdom of the Isles 22 seems to have attained both power and prosperity.

After his murder, Harald's three sons divided " the country " 23 between them, and then sailed to Galloway with the intention of conquering it, but they were driven out. On their return to Man, they revenged themselves by massacring some of the people of Galloway who resided there and by expelling others. In the autumn of 1153, Godred II., Olaf's son, arrived in the Orkneys on his return from Norway, to the joy of the chiefs of the isles, who unanimously elected him for their king. Godred then came to Man, and promptly put the murderers of his father to death. Shortly after his accession, the people of Dublin sent to request him to reign over them also. " Whereupon, assembling a great number of ships and a large army, he went to Dublin, where he was received by the citizens with great satisfaction and demonstrations of joy." When Murchadh, King of Ireland, heard of this he attempted to expel him, but was routed with great slaughter. Godred, having thus secured his new dominion, returned to Man and dismissed the chiefs of the isles, who had accompanied him to Dublin, to their respective homes.24 Feeling himself secure on his throne, and relieved of all chance of interference from Norway, since that country was practically in a state of civil war, which lasted, with a few tranquil intervals, till 1217, 25 he now " began to act tyrannically towards his chiefs, depriving some of their inheritances and others of their dignities. Of these, one named Thorfinn, son of Oter, more powerful than the rest, went to Somerled (of Argyll) and begged for his son Dugald, [whose mother was Olaf's illegitimate daughter,] that he might make him king over the isles.26 Somerled, highly gratified by the application, put Dugald under the direction of Thorfinn, who received and led him through all the islands, subjecting them all to him, and taking hostages from each. One of the chiefs, however, called Paul, secretly fled to Godred, and informed him of what had occurred. Godred was greatly alarmed by the intelligence, and ordered his followers to get ships in readiness and start immediately to encounter the enemy. On the other hand, Somerled and his party assembled a fleet of eighty ships, and hastened to meet Godred." A bloody but indecisive battle took place in January, 1156, the result of which was that Somerled and Godred agreed to share the Kingdom of the Isles between them. Somerled probably took the smaller Sudreys off the coast of Argyll, 27 while Godred retained Man, and, judging by the fact that Olaf, the brother of Reginald, King of Man, was in possession of the Island of Lewis some years later, probably the Hebrides also. By this curious arrangement an independent sovereignty was interposed between the two divisions of Godred's kingdom.

It is not without reason that the chronicler of Rushen exclaims, " Thus was the Kingdom of the Isles ruined from the time the sons of Somerled got possession of it," for some of the most fertile isles were lost to it, and the hold of the Manx king on the distant Hebrides would naturally be an uncertain one.28 From an entry in the English Pipe Rolls, it appears that in this year Godred became a vassal of, or at least owed some service to, King Henry II. of England. 29 It seems probable that, feeling that his throne was in danger, he endeavoured in this way to secure the assistance of his powerful neighbour. There is, however, no record of any further connexion between the Manx and English kings for many years after this.

Another quarrel arose between Somerled and Godred in 1158, when the former attacked the latter and put him to flight, after which he plundered Man, but then retired. It is probable, however, that he left a representative 30 in the island, and that it acknowledged his supremacy till 1164, in which year he was defeated and slain at Renfrew, when engaged in an attempt to conquer Scotland. During these six years Godred seems to have been absent in Norway,31 where he had gone to ask for assistance against Somerled. On Somerled's death, Reginald,32 Godred's brother, landed at Ramsey, where he fought a battle against the Manx, who, " through the treachery of a certain viscount," 33 were "put to flight, and Reginald began to reign." Four days later " Godred returned from Norway with a large body of troops, and, seizing his brother, mutilated, and deprived him of his sight." He would seem, at the same time, to have re-conquered the isles to which he was entitled by agreement with Somerled in 1156. Indeed he probably obtained more islands than these, either then or later; for we learn that, twenty years after this, Reginald, Somerled's son, his two elder brothers being dead, ruled in Coll, Skye, Long Island, Tyree, and Bute, while Godred had the Hebrides, Arran, and all the other islands, as well as Man. From this time, till his death in 1187,34 Godred, except for a trifling invasion in 1182 by " Reginald, son of Eachmarcat, a man of the royal race," which was easily repelled, apparently ruled his dominions in peace. 35 From the fact that there was a Vice-comes in Man (as we learn from his death being mentioned in 1183 36), it would seem that Godred had his headquarters in one of the other islands, probably Arran or Iona. But, wherever he usually lived, it is at least certain that he "died in the Island of St. Patrick, in Man," where he probably had a residence. His death took place in November, and "in the beginning of the following summer his body was removed to the island called Iona." He married, in 1176, " Phingola, daughter of MacLoughlin, son of Murrough, King of Ireland," after he had lived with her for some years. The marriage is stated to have been forced upon him by " Vivian, Cardinal Legate of the Apostolic See," who came to Man for that purpose. The Chronicle, after telling us that Godred " left three sons, Reginald, Olaf, and Ivar," and that he had " appointed Olaf 37 to succeed to the kingdom . . . because he was born of lawful wedlock," 38 gives the following graphic account of the events which succeeded his death : " However, after the death of Godred, the Manxmen sent their messengers to the Isles for Reginald, and made him king, because he was a man of energy and riper age.39 For they dreaded the weakness of Olave, for he was but a boy, ten years old, and they considered that a person who, on account of his tender age, knew not how to direct himself, would be wholly incapable of governing his subjects." Reginald was regarded as one of the most warlike princes of his time. He is said to have passed three entire successive years in the manner of the ancient sea-kings, always on board his ship, never being for one single hour during the whole period beneath the roof of a house. 40 It is not accurately known where his exploits were performed, but we find that he held the Earldom of Caithness for a short period, paying tribute to King William of Scotland. It would seem from the saga of the celebrated chief and physician, Rafn Sveinbiarnson, 41 in which it is mentioned that this Rafn and the bishop-elect, Gudmund, sailed from Iceland towards Norway in the year 1202, but were driven by storms to Sandey, one of the Sudreys, where they happened to find Olaf and the bishop, and were compelled by the former to pay a tax, that Reginald had assigned the Hebrides to Olaf. According to the Chronicle, however, Olaf only had the Island of Lewis. Up to this period Reginald appears as a conqueror and successful ruler, but now his troubles were to begin. John de Courcy, Lord of Ulster, who had married Reginald's sister, Aufrica, had incurred the hostility of John, King of England, who sent Hugh de Lacy to drive him out of Ulster. De Lacy defeated him in battle and took him prisoner, but afterwards released him. De Courcy then fled to Reginald. In the following year, 1205, he collected a large force, and, accompanied by his royal brother-in-law, who had nearly one hundred ships, sailed to Strangford Lough and laid siege to the fort of Rath, where he was totally defeated by Walter de Lacy, Hugh's brother. It is probable that, on account of this action of Reginald's, King John had threatened to attack him, and that Reginald had promised to do homage to him. Consequently, at the end of the same year, John took him under his protection.42 In the following year Reginald, having obtained a safe conduct from John, visited England, and obtained several grants of land in Lancashire "for his homage and service," 43 as well as thirty marks in money. It is not difficult to understand Reginald's reasons, apart from the special circumstances, for placing himself under the protection of the English king, when we remember that England had recently (1170) annexed the east coast of Ireland, so that Man had English territories both to the east and west of it, while the Norwegian influence had for some time been in abeyance on account of the long civil war. It is probable, too, that the ambition of Olaf was becoming a source of danger to his brother. We learn from the Chronicle that, in 1208, Olaf finding that the Island of Lewis " could not support him and his followers . . . went frankly to his brother Reginald, who was then residing in the Isles," and asked him for a larger share of the kingdom. Reginald promised to consider this petition ; but, on Olaf's return the following morning to hear his decision, he took him prisoner, and sent him to his ally, William of Scotland, for safe keeping, and there he remained for nearly seven years. In the meantime, affairs in Norway had taken a new turn, since the civil war had been, temporarily, brought to an end by the treaty of Hvitingsey in the summer of 1208. In consequence of this a number of the warriors on each side, having no further occupation, decided to amuse themselves with a viking cruise to the Sudreys, the ostensible motive being, perhaps, the chastisement of Reginald, and, if possible, the deliverance of Olaf. The only apparent result of this expedition, however, was the plundering of Iona, after which the ill-assorted leaders quarrelled and separated.44 Trifling as the expedition was, it seems to have alarmed Reginald, who, straightway repairing to Norway, with his son Godred, did homage to King Inge, and paid the long withheld tribute. This action of his vassal's probably irritated John of England, who, in the course of an expedition to Ireland in 1210, sent a detachment to Man in Reginald's absence which " devastated nearly the whole island, and receiving hostages returned home." 45 These proceedings resulted in Reginald's again swearing allegiance to John, 46 who thereupon, in 1213, granted him a knight's fee in Ireland and a hundred measures of corn. He also ordered his officers in Ireland to assist Reginald against the Norwegian sea-rovers, forbade his mariners to cause him any injury and released the hostages. Reginald, being thus secured against his enemies, had no longer any reason to apprehend danger from his brother Olaf, who had been released from his Scottish captivity on William's death in 1214. He was therefore allowed to return to Man, but soon afterwards he went on a pilgrimage. On his return he was married to Reginald's wife's sister, Lauon, and re-installed in the Island of Lewis. This marriage, as being uncanonical, was dissolved by Bishop Reginald, nephew of the two kings, a proceeding which, as we shall see, was to lead to a good deal of trouble. Returning to Man, we find Reginald again embroiled with his English suzerain, owing to his subjects having committed depredations on the English and Irish coasts. In consequence of this he was, in 1218, granted a safe conduct to repair to the English Court to do homage47 to King Henry III., and to give satisfaction for the outrages committed. Reginald did so, and, in the year following, he also promised to hold the Isle of Man as a fief from the Papal See, making the manifestly incorrect statement that he held it without obligations of service to any one. 48 He evidently managed to keep this latter arrangement secret, since, in 1220, Henry notified to his " Justices of Ireland " 49 that they were to protect Reginald from the snares and machinations of the King of Norway, who had demanded "undue tribute from him." 49 In the meantime Olaf, the dissolution of whose marriage with Reginald's wife's sister has already been mentioned, had taken to wife Christian, daughter of Ferkkar, Earl of Ross. Reginald's queen, deeply incensed at the dishonour done to her sister, wrote secretly in the name of her husband to her son Godred Don, who was in the Isle of Skye, commanding him to seize and kill Olaf.50 Godred Don tried to do so, but failed, and was blinded and mutilated at Iona in 1223, by Olaf's ally, Páll, the Viscount of Skye, " whose power and energy were felt throughout the whole kingdom of the Isles." The next summer Olaf, doubtless feeling that there was now no chance of peace between him and Reginald, took " hostages from all the chiefs of the Isles, came to Man with a fleet of thirty-two ships, and put into the port of Ronaldsway." He then compelled Reginald, who seemingly offered no resistance, to divide the Kingdom of the Isles with him. Reginald took Man and some of the other isles (which we are not told), and

Olaf the rest. Reginald, however, soon repented of the bargain, and attempted, in conjunction with Alan, Lord of Galloway, to deprive Olaf of the territory which he had just surrendered to him; but, because the men of Man refused to fight against Olaf and the men of the isles, " for whom they had a great regard," he had to give up this enterprize. Soon afterwards Reginald exacted 100 marks from the people of Man on the pretext that he wanted to go to the English Court, but, instead of doing so, he went to Alan, Lord of Galloway, to whose son he gave his daughter in marriage. When the Manx " heard of this, they were greatly incensed, and sending for Olaf, appointed 51 him king." This was

in 1226. According to the Chronicle, he recovered not only Man, but the isles, which he ruled in peace for two years. At the end of that time, however, trouble again arose between Olaf and Reginald. Henry III. endeavoured to make peace, but in vain,52 inasmuch as Olaf, " with all the chiefs of Man, and the greater part of the people, sailed to the Isles," probably for the purpose of fighting against Reginald, and, during his absence in the isles, " Alan, 53 Lord of Galloway, Thomas, Earl of Atholl, and King Reginald, came to Man with a large army, devastated all the southern portion of the island, plundered the churches, killed all the men they could lay hands upon, and reduced the south of Man almost to a wilderness." Alan then left "bailiffs in Man to pay over to him the proceeds of the taxes upon the country." This looks as if he, not Reginald, had assumed the sovereignty. But Olaf speedily returned, drove out the bailiffs and recovered his kingdom; "whereupon the people of Man, who had dispersed in every direction, came together again, and dwelt in security." Alas! their security was of brief duration, for, in the course of " the same year, one midnight during winter, King Reginald came unexpectedly from Galloway with five ships, burnt during the same night all the ships of his brother Olaf, and those of all the chiefs of Man, at the island of St. Patrick, and, going round the country seeking to make terms with his brother, remained nearly forty days at Ronaldsway. In the interval, he won over and gathered round himself all the islanders who were in the southern part of Man. . . . King Olaf, on the other hand, gathered all the northern Manxmen." The opposing forces met at Tynwald, where Reginald was slain 54 and his followers defeated. " Many fell on this occasion, and the southern part of Man being subsequently visited and devastated by pirates, scarcely a single inhabitant was left." A melancholy picture indeed of the condition to which the unhappy island had been reduced.

But now the suzerain of Man and the Isles was about to bestir himself again and to attempt to make the sovereignty of Norway a reality in those regions where it had been in abeyance for many years. Since the middle of the twelfth century, Norway had been a prey to civil dissensions. Two parties, the Birkebeinar, or " Birch-legs," and the Baglernar, or " Croziers," had been contending almost continuously for the supremacy, with the result that their country had become a cypher among nations. At last, in 1217, the Birkebeinar were victorious, and they placed Hakon IV. on the throne. He, after a time, gradually consolidated his power, so that Norway again became strong and respected. Hearing of these revolutions in the isles, he was about to send a fleet there when Olaf arrived at his court to seek protection from Alan of Galloway, who, notwithstanding the defeat of Reginald, seems to have retained, or regained, possession of Man, and to urge his claims against Godred Don, Reginald's son, who was already in Norway. Four days afterwards, the fleet sailed under the command of Uspak-Hakon, 55 whom Hakon intended to place upon the throne of those Sudreys, which were subject to the descendants of Somerled who had rebelled against his authority. 56 UspakHakon was, however, killed by a stone at the siege of Rothesay. Olaf, who with Godred Don had accompanied Uspak, then took command and sailed for Man. On his arrival there, he found a chieftain called Torquil MacNeil in possession, but whether he was Alan's representative, or had usurped the sovereignty on his own account, is not known. Torquil was not able to offer any resistance, because the Manx declined to fight against Olaf, who took possession of the island, while Godred Don became ruler of the other Sudreys, except those which the descendants of Somerled held. It is probable that Olaf and Godred Don did not attempt the conquest of the Somerledian Islands, but made use of the Norwegian fleet simply to regain their own king doms. 57 The unfortunate Manx had to pay for their loyalty, being compelled to contribute threepence for every cow on the island, and to feed the Norwegian forces during the whole winter. In the spring, the Norwegians had some indecisive skirmishes with the Somerledians and returned home in the summer of 1231, without conquering them. Soon after this, Godred Don was slain in attempting to subdue the Island of Lewis, which appears to have revolted against his rule and to have declared in favour of Olaf. The death of Godred Don, put Olaf in possession of his kingdom also. In 1235, he went to the English Court. When there, he promised to defend the English and Irish coasts of the St. George's Channel in the interests of King Henry, and, if necessary, to put 50 galleys at his disposal. 58 This offended King Hakon, who summoned Olaf to Norway to account for his conduct. 59 He seems to have started on his way to Norway in the spring of 1237,60 and to have returned on account of illness, before accomplishing the journey to "the island of St. Patrick," 61 where he died on the 21st of May in the same year, being buried at Rusben Abbey.

Harald, his son, who was 14 years old, succeeded him, and, the same summer, " he passed over, with all his chiefs, to the isles, leaving Loughlin, a relative of his, guardian of Man. . . . He was received with great satisfaction by the inhabitants, who paid him every honour." In the autumn, Harald, having perhaps some reason for distrusting Loughlin, sent four chieftains with their following to Man where they arrived on the 22nd of October. On the 25th, there was a meeting at Tynwald which they attended, and, in consequence of there having been a feud between three of them and Loughlin, they came to blows, when the " followers of Loughlin prevailed." The following spring Harald came to Man, when Loughlin fled without waiting to encounter him, and took with him Godred, another son of Olaf's, of whom he was guardian. They encountered a severe storm and were both shipwrecked and drowned on the Welsh coast. During the same year the King Hakon sent two commissioners, Gospatrick, and Gillescrist, to Man " to dethrone Harald because he refused to present himself at the Court of Norway." They took possession of the whole country, and collected the revenues for the use of their master. " Harald made two expeditions to Man, but was met on the shore . . . by Gospatrick and Gillescrist, with their army, and was prevented from advancing into the country, and also from obtaining any necessary supplies, and consequently returned to the Isles and resided there." It is curious that no attempt was made to deprive him of the isles also, but possibly, as Man was so much the most valuable island, the withholding of it was considered sufficient to bring him to reason. In 1239, it had this effect, since Harald, " following wise and prudent counsel," went to his suzerain's Court. He remained there upwards of two years,62 at the end of which he was appointed king over all the islands which had been held by Godred, Reginald, and Olaf, his predecessors. He then returned from Norway to the isles, " where he collected a great number of ships and a large army, and put in at the island of St. Patrick, whither the whole population of Man came to meet him peaceably, and received him with great demonstrations of satisfaction. Harald, finding himself so well received by the inhabitants of Man, supplied his followers from the isles with provisions, and sent them home. From this time he reigned quietly and peacefully, established the most solid peace with the kings of England, and of Scotland, and was united to them by friendly alliance."

In 1246, he had letters of safe conduct for going to England, when he was knighted by King Henry, and returned "laden with parting presents."63 Possibly Hakon was jealous of this attention, for he at once summoned Harald to Norway. 64 On his arrival there, he was received with honour by the king, " who gave him his daughter in marriage, and added that he would greatly exalt him, and raise the throne of his kingdom above all that it had been in the days of his predecessors in the kingdom of the isles." But his reign and his life soon came to an end, he and his queen being shipwrecked and drowned near the Shetlands, when on their way home in the autumn of 1248. Some time had evidently elapsed before this was heard of in Man; since it was not till the 6th of May, 1249, that his brother, Reginald II., began his brief period of rule, which was terminated on the 30th of the same month by his assassination, " by the knight, Ivar, 65 and his accomplices, in a meadow near the church of the Holy Trinity at Rushen." From thence his body was conveyed to Rushen Abbey and buried in the church there. It was not Ivar, however, who benefited most by this event, but "Harald, son of Godred Don,"66 who, "usurping the name and dignity of king in Man, drove out nearly all the chiefs of Harald, Olaf's son, and in their stead made the fugitives who had joined him, chiefs and nobles." To strengthen his position, he then offered to do homage to Henry III., who, consequently, in December of the same year, 67 issued letters of safeconduct for him to come to England. Before Harald could attend to this request, there came an urgent summons for him to go to Norway, " for the King was displeased with his having usurped a kingdom to which he had no title, and intended not to allow his return to the Sodor Isles." In his absence, Magnus, Olaf's third son and brother of the late king, Harald, came to Man in company with his father-in-law, John, grandson of Dugald, ruler of the Somerledian isles, to whom Hakon had given temporary charge of the rest of the Sudreys. 68 They put in at Ronaldsway, and John " sent messengers to the people of Man," saying, "Thus and thus, does John, King of the Isles, command you." This arrogation of the title of " King of the Isles" by John, made the Manxmen very indignant, and they therefore "refused to hear anything further from the messengers, who returned and reported all to their master." Then, continues the narrative, John being " greatly exasperated, immediately ordered his followers under arms, and led them up to St. Michael's Isle, where he marshalled them in troops, and made them sit down in ranks prepared to engage in battle, and ordered all to be in readiness to commence the attack at break of day, unless the Manxmen would spontaneously promise to yield all he should ask from them." Instead of this, the Manx sent messengers " at the first hour of day, to say to them, `Let those from among you, who are sent by the King of Norway, come on shore without fear, and exhibit to us the royal letters, and we will cheerfully do whatever his clemency commands.' But they neither showed the letters nor made any overtures for peace, nor received any that were offered by the Manx people." So the Manx went to the shore and drew themselves up in battle array facing their adversaries whom they were unable to reach because the high tide had cut off the St. Michael's isle from them. John and the main body of his followers, baffled by their determined attitude, took refuge on board their ships before the tide ebbed, leaving, however, many behind. In the evening,69 " a certain young follower of Sir Ivar, with many of the men of the isles, 70 entered the island [St. Michael's isle], and slew at the first onset many, while others were drowned in endeavouring to swim to the ships." This defeat the chronicler attributes to " their pride and insolence in refusing to accept the terms of peace offered by the natives." The next day they retired " in great wrath from Man," and " lost many of their chiefs by shipwreck in a storm which arose." It is probable from the facts that Henry III., in anticipation perhaps of Harald's proposed homage, ordered the justiciar of Ireland, in November, 1251, not to allow Magnus and his men " to go out of Ireland to invade the King of Norway's island of Man," 71 and that, in the following year, he further ordered the kings of Norway and Scotland, and Llewellyn of Wales, not to invade that island, 72 that Ivar held it on behalf of Harald 73 for the next two years. And yet, a few months later, not only did Magnus return to Man, " where all received him with great joy and appointed him king," but he was, shortly afterwards, as we shall see, taken into Henry's good graces. On this occasion, however, he was unaccompanied by John, which, doubtless, made all the difference in the manner of his reception in the island.

In 1253, Magnus went to " the court of the Lord King of Norway, where he was received with great distinction and remained a year," at the end of which Hakon appointed him " King over all the islands held by his predecessors, and confirmed the grant under the royal seal to him and to his successors by inheritance." The effect of this upon the enemies of Magnus was, according to the Chronicle, " that they were confounded and dismayed." They must have been still further discouraged when, in 1255, King Henry withdrew his protection from Harald and Ivar, 74 ordering his subjects not to receive those " who had shamefully murdered King Reginald," 75 and when, in 1256, Magnus " was very graciously received " at the English court, " made knight, and loaded with splendid gifts on his departure." 76 But Magnus was not destined to receive any further distinctions, since both he and his kingdom were soon to be overwhelmed in the approaching struggle between Scotland and Norway, of the history of which a brief outline must now be given.

King Alexander II. of Scotland had, for a long time, been anxious to obtain possession of the Hebrides, but his first open step to this end was not taken till 1244, when he sent two of his bishops to King Hakon to know if he would give up those territories in the Hebrides which King Magnus Barefoot had unjustly wrested from Edgar,77 his predecessor. Hakon replied that the King of Scotland had no sovereignty in the Hebrides at the time that King Magnus had won them from King Godred, that Magnus Barefoot regarded them as his hereditary possessions, and that Edgar had admitted his right to them by a formal treaty.78

In this contention Hakon was unquestionably right. The Scottish commissioners then offered to purchase the Hebrides from him, but he declined. The negotiation was continued for several years without success, till at length, in 1249, the Scottish King attempted to obtain all the other islands, as well as the Hebrides, by force. To that end he collected a large fleet, but, before he began active operations, he was seized with a sudden fever, and died while the fleet were lying at anchor in Kerrera Sound. His successor was a boy of only seven years old, so that the isles were delivered from the ambition of Scotland for ten years. At the termination of this period Alexander III. took up his father's scheme and began operations by asking King Henry of England not to show the King of Man favour or aid against his demands. To this Henry judiciously replied that, while he was unwilling to throw any obstacle in the way of a just claim, he would, if any reference were made to him, do whatever should be just and honest,79 and, a little later in the same year, he went further than this and advised Alexander not to go to the " islands until the times with the aid of God are more propitious." 80 Alexander was not, however, to be deterred from his object. In 1261, he sent two envoys to Norway to negotiate for the cession of the isles, and, these envoys being unduly delayed by Hakon, he began hostilities in the Hebrides. Hearing of this, the Norwegian king prepared for an expedition against Scotland; and declared, at a general council near Bergen, that he "intended to revenge the inroads which the Scots had made in his dominions." 81 Two years elapsed before he was ready, so that it was not till July, 1263, that he was able to sail. On his arrival in Skye, he was met by King Magnus of Man, who went with him to Arran, where the united fleets anchored. Negotiations were then entered into, but they had no result, because they were protracted by the Scots in order that the Norwegians might be delayed until the autumnal gales set in. This astute policy bore fruit. On September 30th, a severe gale began to blow, from which the Norwegian fleet suffered greatly, and, on October 1st, when some of its vessels were driven on shore at Largs, near the Cumraes in the Firth of Clyde, the Scots attacked them. On the following day the Norwegians landed, and, after an obstinate fight, 82' the Scots were repulsed. The Norwegians then returned on board their ships. On the 3rd, they went back to carry off their slain; on the 5th, they burned the stranded ships, and, on the same day, the whole fleet sailed to Lamlash harbour. On the 14th, when near Isla, Hakon encountered a violent storm which compelled him to take refuge in Kerrera Sound. From thence he retired northwards, and, when he arrived at the Orkneys, he sent the greater part of his fleet to Norway. He kept the rest at Kirkwall, where he intended to winter, but he soon afterwards died.84 Thus were the Norwegians, like the Spaniards six centuries later, defeated rather by the hand of God .85 than the hand of man, and thus their suzerainty over the Sudreys came to an end. Alexander now devoted his energies to reducing the islands, which he accomplished without much difficulty.

In the meantime Hakon's ally, Magnus, seeing that resistance was useless now that the Norwegian fleet had departed, had returned to Man. 86 For what then occurred we may probably rely upon the statement of John Fordun, which is as follows:"As soon as the death of the King of the Norwegians was made known to the King of Scotland, the latter hastily got a strong army together and made ready to set out, with a fleet, towards the Isle of Man. The King of Man, however, hearing of this and being panic-stricken, dispatched his ambassadors to the King to beg that a truce might be granted him so that he might present himself before the King in Scotland. The King, however, was prudent enough not to swerve from his purpose or turn back; but after sending the King of Man a safe conduct he quickly mustered his troops and at their head made for the Isle of Man. When the King of Scotland had reached the town of Dumfries, that petty king (regulus) met him and became his man, doing homage unto him for his petty kingdom, which he was to hold of him for ever; upon this condition, however, that if the King of the Norwegians for the time being undertook to molest him, he should have safe shelter for him and his in Scotland for all time to come; while on the other hand the petty King of Man should furnish to his lord the King of Scotland, as often as the latter had need of them, ten war-galleys-five twenty-fouroared, and five more twelve-oared."86

Magnus appears to have retained Man only, the other islands being placed under Scottish rule. 87 He did not survive the new state of affairs long, for, on November 24, 1265, he died "at Rushen Castle" and "was buried in the Abbey of St. Mary of Rushen."

In July of the following year a treaty was concluded by which the King of Norway, in consideration of the sum of four thousand marks, ceded the Sudreys, including Man, to the King of Scotland.88

Thus came to an end a momentous epoch in Manx history, and one in which Man was, comparatively speaking, more important than either before or after it.89


1 Perhaps from O.N. Kroppin, " crooked." A huge granite boulder called " Godred Crovan's stone " existed, till recently, near St. Marks (Manx Names, p. 310).

2 See P. 98.

3 See p. 94.

4 Manx Soc., vol. xxii. pp. 143-4.

5 See Manx Soc., vol. xxii. p. 151.

6 Probably in consequence of an order of Godred's to prevent them building large boats to compete with his own, so that he might maintain his maritime supremacy. This seems inconsistent with Skene's statement (for which he gives no authority), that the Western Isles remained under Malcolm's rule till he ceded them to Magnus Barefoot (vol. ii. p. 353).

7 On the other hand, Halliday, p. 93, says that there is no trace of his having conquered Dublin.

8 He succeeded his father Olaf on the 22nd of September, 1093.

9 Ann. Ult. and of For Masters (Manx Soc., vol. xxii. p. 151).

10 Manx Soc., vol. xxii. p. 151.

11 The dates and the whole history of the period between the death of Godred and the accession of Olaf are very uncertain. For a full discussion of it see Manx Soc., vol. xxii. pp. 148-167.

12 Of the seven years mentioned by the Chronicle as the duration of his reign, five must have been as viceroy under his father, as otherwise the dates could not be reconciled.

13 Skene (vol. i. p. 441 n.) says that Donald was not sent to Man till after the death of Magnus in 1103, and quotes (p. 443) the Annals of Inisfallen to show that he " acquired the kingdom of Insegall by force in 1111."

14 1096-1098 ?

15 If it took place at this time.

16 The exact site is unknown. Of Other and Macmaras, said to have been the leaders on each side, nothing is known, but possibly Other, or Otter, may have been the earl said by Worsaae (p. 288) to have been appointed Governor of Man and to have been expelled by the inhabitants, who chose in his place another jarl named Matmanus" (? Macmaras).

17 He visited the site of the battle, where " many of the bodies of the slain still lay unburied."

18 " Cantire. That is better than the best isle in the southern Isles save Man " (Orkneyinga Saga, ch. xlv. Dasent's translation, p. 72).

19 " Insulam Man, quæ deserts, erat, inhabitavit, populis replevit, domibus et aliis necessariis ad usus hominum gravitur instruxit " (Ordericus Vitalis, Ecclesiastical History, written in 1141, Manx Soc., vol. iv. p. 29).

20Ann. Four Masters and Ult.

21 The Chronicle gives 1102 as the date of his accession, and says that he reigned forty years, dying in the same year as King David of Scotland, which was 1153. If the Chronicle is correct in the date of his accession, he must have reigned fiftyone, not forty years, since there appears to be no doubt about the date of his death. If the Chronicle is wrong about the date of his accession, but correct about the number of years which he reigned, he must have come to the throne in 1113, and, in that case, it is incorrect in stating that he succeeded directly after the death of Magnus. Munch gives 1103 as the date of his accession. Robertson (Scotland under Her Early Kings, vol. i. pp. 346-7, quoted in Manx Soc., vol. xxii. p. 166) thinks that Lagman re-occupied the throne of Man after the death of Magnus, and reigned till 1108. He then places Donald Mac Teige between 1108 and 1112, and makes Olaf begin to reign in the latter year. The whole question is a very obscure one.

22 It was probably a purely insular kingdom without any connexion with Ireland or Scotland.

23 Probably Man only, not the other isles.

24 The history of his connexion with Dublin is obscure, but it probably did not last long. Worsaae (p. 317) gives the following kings in Dublin at this time: Godfred (Godred), 1147; Ottar, 1147; Broder, 1149; Astel, 1159.

25 See pp. 122-3.

26 I.e., the Sudreys other than Man.

27 Worsaae (p. 289) says: " Jarl Somerled compelled Godred to resign to him all the Sudrejar from Mull to Man . . . and his youngest son, Dugal . . . obtained Argyle and Lorn, whilst Cantire and the islands were assigned to his eldest son, Ragnvald " (or Reginald).

28 Some of the other Sodor islands besides the Hebrides seem to have come into Godred's possession later (see p. 113). 29 The Sheriff of Worcestershire rendered an account of 78s. 6d. for the arms of the King of the Isles by the King's writ, and, in 1157, a further sum of 70s. was paid for his pledges, and 50s. for his palfrey and armour.

30 See reference to " a certain viscount," p. 113.

31 It is probable that he had lost Dublin before this time, but we cannot find any record on the subject.

32 A natural son of Olaf's.

33 Name unknown, ? Fogolt (see p. 114). It is not clear whether the Manx were fighting on behalf of Godred or Somerled.

34 The Chronicle begins Godred's reign in 1144, and, though it says that he reigned 39 years, gives the year of his death as 1187. Its dates are quite unreliable, but, if we take his reign as beginning in 1153, and then deduct the time he was in Norway, when Somerled ruled, we get just 39 years to 1187.

35 According to Ware (Annals of Ireland, p. 5), Godred, in 1171, assisted Asculph, King of the Dublin Danes, in a vain attempt to regain that city, and afterwards entered into an equally fruitless undertaking with Roderick O'Connor to assist him to expel the English from Ireland. But, on the otherhand, according to Giraldus Cambrensis (Erpurg. Hib., 1. 11. 25), he helped the English in their attack on Dublin by blockading the port.

36 In the year 1183 died Fogolt, Viscount of Man."

37 Nicknamed " the Swarthy."

38 Son of Phingola. He was, however, born before his mother's marriage. According to Manx law, marriage " within a yeare or two of birth " legitimizes a child (Statutes, vol. i. p. 68), but this would not have applied to Reginald, who was a number of years older than Olaf.

39 The Chronicle says that in the year of his accession (1188) Murrough, " a chief whose power and energy were felt throughout the whole Kingdom of the Isles," was killed. It is possible that he was a usurper, and so the strong hand of Reginald was required to put him down.

40 King Rogn-weld was then the greatest waiking in the western lands. It was three winters that he had lain out in his warships without coming under a smoky rafter " (Orkneyinga Saga,).

41 Copenhagen, 1858, pp. 563-4 (Manx Soc., vol. xxiii. pp. 180).

42 " Foedera " (Manx Soc., vol. vii. p. 25).

43 In 1206, " 30 mareates," and, in 1207, " 20 librates " (Ibid., pp. 27-9).

44 Manx Soc., vol. xxii. pp. 184-5.

45 An entry in the Praestita Roll, however, to the effect that Richard de Warail was paid half a mark for going there " to take care of the provisions of the Lord the King," looks as if the island was made a depot for the supply of John's troops in Ireland.

46 A charter to this effect was "delivered on oath to be placed in the treasury." Reginald had evidently visited England to do allegiance, since we find that ten marks were paid to Stephen de Oxford for conducting him back to Man. (For documents connected with the above, see Manx Soc., vol. vii. pp. 31-7.)

47 He was granted, as a knight's fee, two hogsheads of wine and 120 crannocks of corn. " Foedera" (Manx Soc., vol. vii. pp. 43-7).

48 Theiner's Vetera Monumenta (Mamx Soc., vol. xxiii. pp. 290-2). Four years later he and his dominions were taken " under the protection of the blessed Peter " (Ibid., pp. 301-3).

49 Rot. Litt. Claus (Manx Soc., vol. vii. p. 58). There is an order on record in 1220 from the king to the effect that the Justices of Ireland should cause Reginald to have the corn and wine referred to in note 47 (Ibid., pp. 60-1).

50 This looks as if Olaf had desired the separation, and as if it had, therefore, not been altogether the bishop's doing.

51 Constiliuerunt.

52 He granted Olaf a safe conduct to come into England " for the forming of a peace between himself and his brother Reginald." " Rot. Lib. Pat." (Manx Soc., vol. vii. p. 69). It is not known whether Olaf went or not.

53 According to the Flateyan MS. "He was the most distinguished warrior of his times, and had numerous ships and followers " (Manx Soc., vol. iv. p. 43).

54 The monks of Rushen removed the body of King Reginald to the abbey of St. Mary of Furness, where he was buried in the place he had selected during his life."

55 Grandson of Somerled. Hakon gave him his own name.

56 See History of Olaf the Black. Flateyan MS. (Manx Soc., vol. iv. pp. 43-6) and King Hakon s Saga (Manx Soc., vol xxii. pp. 191-6), whence the account given above is derived.

57 I.e., Olaf took Man and Godred the Hebrides, and, perhaps, some of the other Sudreys.

58 Henry in return gave him 40 marks, 100 crannocks of corn, and 5 " doles " of wine yearly. " Foedera " (Manx Soc., vol. vii. pp. 72-3).

59 This we know from a letter issued by Henry III., on the 24th of May, 1236, in which he took Olaf's men and possessions under his protection during Olaf's absence in Norway, at the request of the King of Norway. ' Foedera" (Manx Soc., vol. vii, pp. 74-6).

60 A further letter, on the 8th of April, 1237, confirmed and renewed this protection, and speaks of Olaf as having begun his journey.

61. Peel Island.

62 Till 1242.

63 30 Hen. III. (Manx Soc., vol. vii. p. 82).

64 "Historically," Walpole conjectures (The Land of Home Rule, p. 70), " the reign of Harald is chiefly remarkable from the evident anxiety of the Courts of both Norway and England to secure the favour of the King of the Isles."

65 He was evidently a person of some importance since we find him taking a leading part both at the battle of Ronaldsway and afterwards (see pp. 129-30), and he had letters of protection for three years, from 1252 to 1255, from Henry III., at the end of which time he was specially proscribed by the same monarch, (Manx Soc., vol. vii. p. 86.)

66 He was probably one of Ivar's "accomplices" (Manx Soc., vol. vii. p. 86).

67 wrongly dated 1250, should be 1249 (Manx Soc., vol. vii. pp. 83-4).

68 It would seem from this that the Somerledian islanders had submitted to their Norwegian suzerain.

69 When the tide had ebbed.

70 This looks as if there were some of the men of the other Sodor isles in Man siding with Ivar.

71:Close Roll 36 Henry III.

72 Ibid.

37 Henry III.

73 Godred Don's son.

74 It seems probable, though not so stated, that they fled on Magnus's arrival in Man.

75 40 Henry III. (Manx Soc. vol. iii. p. 86). It was a somewhat late recognition of this shameful conduct by Henry.

76 Chron. Man. See also Patent 39 Henry III. m. 8.

77 Correctly " Edgar Mac Malcolm."

78 Flateyan and Frisian MSS. of Hakon's Expedition (Manx Soc., vol. iv. p. 58, and ditto vol. xxiii. p. 203).

79 Close Roll 43 Henry III.

80 Exchequer, Treasury of Receipts Miscellanea.

81 Flateyan and Frisian MSS. (Manx Soc., vol. iv. p. 61). 82 Magnus was not present at this battle, he being one of the leaders sent up Loch Long with sixty ships to waste the earldom of Lennox, &c. Hakon's Saga, ell. 323 (Manx Soc., vol. xxii. p. 217).

83 Manx Soc., vol. iv. pp. 61-9 (see vol. xxii. pp. 207-225 for detailed account from Hakon's Saga).

84 " In truth, as Hakon himself was wont to say, human force did not drive him back, but Divine influence, which shattered his ships and sent death into his army " (see Icelandic Sagas, Rolls Series, 1878, pp. 343-8).

85 Hakon's Saga, ch. 826 (Manx Soc., vol. xxii. p. 223).

86 Scotichronicon (Skene's Ed., 1871), 2. ii. 296.

87 See Robertson's Index, 1798, pp. xi and xxiv. "Letter of the King of Mann that he will hold the Land of Mann of the King of Scotland," and " Charters for the King of Mann on his receiving Mann on farm." These are only the indices, the documents themselves being lost. The accounts of the Wigton and Dumfries sheriffs indicate that, before the matter was finally adjusted, various envoys, principally churchmen, had passed between Scotland and Man. We find the latter sheriff crediting himself with the cost of Manx hostages. See Exchequer Rolls of Scotland (Rolls Series, 1878), i. 17.

88 Manx Soc., vol. xxii. pp. 227-231, and vol. xxiii. pp, 323-333.

89 For discussion of the origin and history of the armorial bearings of the Isle of Man, see Appendix.



It is generally agreed that the heraldic cognizance of the Isle of Man-the famous "three legs "-is copied from the arms of Sicily. The date of its introduction has, however, been much disputed, some antiquaries maintaining that it was the badge of the Scandinavian Kings of Man (1079-1265), who came into possession of it through the well-known connection of the Norsemen with Sicily; while others have argued that it was adopted by Alexander III. of Scotland when the island was ceded to him, in 1266. The latter view is that taken by Dr. Newton in his paper printed in the Manx Note Book (vol. ii. pp. 1-16, in January, 1886). Dr. Newton urges that ten years before becoming sovereign of Man, Alexander visited the English court, at a time when preparations were being made to enforce the claim of Henry III.'s son Edmund to the crown of Sicily, which had been conferred upon him by the Pope. It is suggested that Alexander must on this occasion have become familiar with the " three legs " of Sicily, and that, when he afterwards became possessed of an island kingdom, he adopted this device as its arms. In support of this theory, Dr. Newton points out that the seals of King Harald's extant charters of 1245 and 1246 bear, not the "three legs," but a figure of a ship. On the other hand, the ancient Manx sword of state, which is believed by the best authorities to date from the twelfth, or, at latest, from the beginning of the thirteenth century, has upon it a representation of the "three legs," spurred and, apparently, armed. Unless it can be contended either that the sword is of later date than has been supposed, or that it is not of northern manufacture, but imported from the south of Europe, its evidence appears to be fatal to Dr. Newton's ingenious hypothesis. The occurrence of the ship on Harald's seal does not prove that no other device was ever used by the Scandinavian Kings of Man. Some indirect evidence that both the " legs " and the ship were borne by these monarchs is found in the arms of certain Scottish families who claim descent from them, one of them quartering the " legs," another the ship, and a third both the " legs " and the ship (Oswald, Manx Soc. vol. v. p. 8). The "three legs" device was borne on the coat of arms of Henry de Bello Monte (Beaumont), Lord of Man in 1310 (Ibid., p. 37), and Thomas Randolf, Earl of Moray, to whom Bruce granted the island in 1313 (see p. 191), in the words of Camden, " bore the more modern arms of the Kings of the Isles, viz., three human legs, armed, conjoined, and bending the knees (Manx Soc. vol. iv. p. 102). This symbol is also found on a cross at Maughold, which belongs to the latter part of the fourteenth century. The origin of the Sicilian cognizance cannot be discussed here, but there can be no doubt that it is a development of the famous symbol x known to archaeologists as the " svastika," or " fylfot." 1 Possibly its adoption as the emblem of Sicily may have been partly due to a sense of its appropriateness to the " three-cornered " island.

The present description of the Manx arms is as follows: " Gules, three legs armed, conjoined in fesse at the upper part of the thighs, flexed in triangle, garnished and spurred, or." Essentially the same description is given in Guillim's Display of Heraldry, 1610. The motto Quocunque jeceris stabit, first appears (with gesseris miswritten for jeceris) on the earliest known Manx coinage, that of 1668. The assertion of Oswald (Manx Soc., vol. v. p. 34) that it is found in a document of 1300 is unconfirmed, and probably baseless.

1 See the article on this word in the Oxford English Dictionary, where it is shown to rest on the authority of a single MS. of the end of the fifteenth century, and to have meant originally nothing more or less than " fill-foot," i.e., a pattern for filling up the foot of a particular stained window.


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