Lord of the Isles

From ScotsWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

The designation Lord of the Isles (Scottish Gaelic: Triath nan Eilean or Rìgh Innse Gall) is today a title of Scottish nobility with historical roots that go back beyond the Kingdom of Scotland. It emerged from a series of hybrid Viking/Gaelic rulers of the west coast and islands of Scotland in the Middle Ages, who wielded sea-power with fleets of galleys. Although they were, at times, nominal vassals of the King of Norway, High King of Ireland, or the King of Scotland, the island chiefs remained functionally independent for many centuries. Their territory included the Hebrides, (Skye and Ross from 1438), Knoydart, Ardnamurchan, and the Kintyre peninsula. At their height they were the greatest landowners and most powerful Lords in Britain and its Isles (excluding Ireland) following the Kings of England and Scotland.

The end of the Lordship came in 1493 when John Macdonald II (d.1498) forfeited his estates and titles to James IV of Scotland, who had launched a number of offensives into the Western Isles.<ref>Ian Donnachie and George Hewitt, The Birlinn Companion to Scottish History, 168</ref>Despite the attempts of John's grandson, Donald Dubh, to regain the title the eldest male child of the reigning Scottish (and later, British) monarch has been styled "Lord of the Isles". Today Charles, Prince of Wales is styled Lord of the Isles, as a subsidiary Scottish title to the Dukedom of Rothesay. The only island still in the possession of direct descendants of the Lords of the Isles is tiny Cara off Kintyre, which is owned by the MacDonalds of Largie, a small remnant of a once vast family inheritance.