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Kings, Mormaers, Rebels
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John Donald
Publication Date
01 May 2010
Available for Sale
Birlinn Limited
2 x b/w maps

Kings, Mormaers, Rebels

Early Scotland's Other Royal Family
by John Marsden - Find out more about the author

The ‘other royal family’ of the sub-title is first noticed in the seventh century as the Cenél Loairn, one of the principal dynastic kindreds of Dalriada, the embryonic kingdom of the Scots in Argyll. By the end of that century they had displaced the Cenél nGabráin, a kindred descended from the traditional founding dynast Fergus Mór, from over-kingship of Dalriada and clung on to power until the Pictish onslaught of the 730s.

While the Cenél nGabráin extended eastward into Pictland as the MacAlpin kings of Alba, the Cenél Loairn moved up the Great Glen to reappear as hereditary mormaers of Moray, effectively kings in the north who achieved their pinnacle of ascendancy when Macbeth seized the high-kingship of Scots in 1040. His death, and that of his kinsman and successor Lulach, at the hands of Malcolm Canmore signalled the resurgence of the Cenél nGabráin and launched the Cenél Loairn into terminal decline. Yet the house of Lulach still pursued its claim on kingship through a sequence of rebellions against Canmore kings which continued into the second quarter of the thirteenth century.

Kings, Mormaers, Rebels traces the story of the Cenél Loairn and its descendent kindreds through more than six hundred years to throw an unfamiliar side-light on the emergence of the medieval kingdom of the Scots.

John Marsden is the author of a number of books on medieval northern history. His Somerled and the emergence of Gaelic Scotland and Galloglas: Hebridean and West Highland Mercenary Warrior Kindreds in Medieval Ireland are published under the John Donald and Tuckwell Press imprints.

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