The Kingdom of Man and the Isles in context
Run by School of History, Law and Social Sciences
20.000 Credits or 10.000 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Dr Owain Jones
Overall aims and purpose
The module focusses closely on the history of a kingdom of medieval Britain, a political and cultural crossroads. Founded by Viking invaders, the Kingdom of Man and the Isles, though small, was pulled between the Norse world to the north, the Gaelic world around it and the two powerful kingdoms to its east, England and Scotland. Beginning in the Viking Age, the kingdom became an influential force in the Irish Sea and beyond, and was in turn under the authority of the King of Norway, divided in a civil war, and eventually absorbed into the Kingdom of Scotland.
The wars of kings and rebel are central to these events: Godred Crovan, the raider-turned king; Magnus Barefoot, king of Norway, the ‘last of the Vikings’; and Somerled, the Hebridean revel who founded many of the Highland clans. The activities of these figures influenced Norway, Gwynedd, Scotland, Ireland, and the Anglo-Norman kingdom, and the module therefore considers the links between these areas and Man and the Isles, a kingdom which stretched from the Outer Hebrides to Dublin.
We will also consider archaeological evidence, as well as cultural and economic factors. The module therefore offers an opportunity to closely consider the history of a particular area, but also to place its history in the wider context of medieval Britain, Ireland, and Scandinavia, linking places usually seen through the prism of separate national histories
INTRODUCTION: Themes and the early kingdom
GODRED CROVAN: The foundation of the Crovan dynasty; Olaf son of Godred.
SOMERLED: king or rebel, Viking or Gael?
REGINALD GODREDSON: civil war and the descendants of Somerled.
HAKON, KING OF NORWAY: the ned of the kingdom?
ECONOMY, SOCIETY, CULTURE
ENGLAND AND NORWAY: the Angevin world, the Viking world.
IRELAND AND WALES: kings of Ireland, Dublin, and Gwynedd.
SCOTLAND AND THE END OF THE KINGDOM: later history.
Representative list of seminar topics:
Introduction Godred Crovan and the Chronicle of the Kings of Man and the Isles
Source: Chronicle of the Kings of Man and the Isles
Somerled and Argyll
Source: Song of the Death of Somerled (Carmen de morte Somerledi)
Reginald Godredson, king of Man and the Isles
Source: a range of sources including English documents, Orkneyinga saga, the Manx Chronicle, and the Gaelic poem in praise of Reginald
Norway and the end of the kingdom
Source: two Norse sagas, Magnús saga berfœttr/Magnus Barefoot’s Saga by Snorri Sturluson (1179–1241), and Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar/Hakon Hakonson's Saga, by Sturla Þórðarson (1214–1284).
The church and the descendants of Somerled
Source: ecclesiastical archaeology/architecture, focussing on Iona
Castles and community
Source: archeological evidence of castles: Peel; Castle Rushen; Dun Chonaill; Dunstaffnage; Aros; Cairnburgh
Ireland, Dublin, Wales
Source: Vita Griffini filii Conani, the biography of King Gruffudd ap Cynan of Gwynedd
Norway and England
Source: a range of English administrative documents invlolving the Manx kings, taken from Monumenta de Insula Manniae, ed. J. R. Oliver (2 vols, Douglas, 1860–1862).
The end of the kingdom?
Source: a fresh look at the Chronicle of the Kings of Man and the Isles
Teaching and Learning Strategy