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The Kingdom of the Isles

John Donald
Publication Date
09 June 2017
Not Yet Published
Birlinn Limited
12pp b/w plates

The Kingdom of the Isles

Scotland’s Western Seaboard, 1100–1336
by R.A McDonald - Find out more about the author

This study explores the history of the western seaboard of Scotland (the Hebrides, Argyll and the Isle of Man) in a formative but often neglected era: the central middle ages, from the mightly Somerled to his descendant John MacDonald, the first Lord of the Isles (c. 1336).

Drawing on a variety of sources, this very readable narrative deals with three major and closely interrelated themes: first, the existence of the Isles and coastal mainland as a kingdom from c.1100 to 1266; second, the rulers of the region, Somerled and his descendants, the MacDougalls, MacDonalds and MacRuaris; and third, the often complex relations among the Isles, Scotland, Norway and England. A fully rounded history emerges, which transcends national viewpoints.

While political history predominates, the changing nature of society in the isles is emphasised throughout, and separate chapters address the church and monasticism as well as the monuments – the castles, monasteries, churches and chapels that form an enduring legacy.

R. Andrew McDonald is Professor of History at Brock University, Canada, where he was the founding director of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. He is the author of many books, book chapters and articles on medieval Scottish, Hebridean and Manx history, including Outlaws of Medieval Scotland: Challenges to the Canmore Kings 1058–1266, Manx Kingship in its Irish Sea Setting, 1187–1229, co-editor of The Viking Age: A Reader and co-editor of Alba: Celtic Scotland in the Middle Ages.


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