Inde ascendet Ui Imair ad ortum Orcadas (From the rise of Ui Imair to the rise of Orkney)

Here follows the account of the Isle of Man and its region in the 10th century from the return of the Ui Imair to the conquests of Sigurd the Stout. The material herein was collected meticulously by the Monks of Rushen Abbey.

List of Kings and Rulers of Man and the Isles

Date Name Title Dynasty Vassalage Ruler in Man
900-908 Bjorn Ketillsson Jarl of Man and the Hebrides. King of the Isles Harald I of Norway Sits in Man
908-918 Ottir the Black Jarl of Man and the Hebrides. King of the Isles. King of Waterford from 917 Harald I of Norway. Ragnall Ui Imair from 914 Sits in Man to 917
918-921 Sihtric Caech (one eyed) King of Dublin and Waterford Ui Imair Ragnal Ui Imair King of York
921-934 Gofraid Ui Imair King of Dublin and Waterford Ui Imair Sihtric Caech (one eyed) King of York Gebeachan 921-937
934-939 Amlaib Gofraidsson King of Dublin. King of Jorvik Ui Imair Son of Ragnall 937-942
939-945 Blacaire Gofraidsson King of Dublin Ui Imair Amlaib Gofraidsson King of Jork Direct rule from 942
945-947 Amlaib Cuaran King of Dublin Ui Imair Direct rule
947-948 Blacaire Gofraidsson (restored) King of Dublin Ui Imair Ruaidri High King of Ireland Direct rule
948-952 Gofraid Sihtricsson King of Dublin Ui Imair Ruaidri High King of Ireland to 950 Direct rule
952-980 Amlaib Cuaran (restored) King of Dublin Ui Imair Maccus Haraldsson 972-977
980-984 Maccus Haraldsson King of the Isles Ui Imair Sits in Man
984-989 Gofraid Haraldsson King of the Isles Ui Imair Sits in Man
989-1000 Gilli Jarl of Man and the Hebrides Sigurd the Stout Earl of Orkney Sits in Man

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Flann Sianna with the Kings of Leinster and of Brega launched a two-pronged attack on Dublin from the north and the south, and drove Ivar II out of Dublin in 902. The Norsemen’s defeat was comprehensive. They fled, leaving “great numbers of their ships behind them, and escaped half-dead across the sea.” Some of the ousted Norsemen fled to Wales, others are said to have fled to the Loire valley in France. Ivar II fled to Scotland, where he was killed in 904 by Constantine II.

908 – Bjorn Kettilsson dies while sailing in the Hebrides. His son Ottir the Black replaces him as Jarl and King of the Isles.

910 – The Saxon army of Edward of Wessex invades the kingdom of York and King Halfdan II of Jorvik, with his sons Eowils, and his brother Ingwer, are all killed at the Battle of Tettenhall. The Saxons then reunite Northumbria under Eadwulf II who was King of Northern Northumbria until then. His son Ealdred succeed him in 913.

914 – From the start of the 910’s there are reports of Vikings led by Ragnall Gofraid, and Sihtric, grandsons of Imar. The Ui Imair returned to the isles. In 914 Barid son of Ottir the Black is killed in a naval battle against Ragnall off the coast of the Isle of Man. Ottir then surrenders to Ragnal, and they soon become allies and even friends.

917 – Ottir and Ragnal conquer Waterford and use it as a base to raid Munster. Niall Glundub, High King of Ireland, set out to oppose Ragnal, but the army he summoned from Leinster was defeated by Sihtric in the Battle of Confey and never arrived. The Irish forces disbanded. Following these events, Sihtric retakes Dublin. Ottir receives the title King of Waterford. At the same time, the Danish kingdom of East Anglia falls to Edward of Wessex, and the vikings lose their last hold in mainland Britain.

918 – Ragnal with his brother Gofraid and his friend Ottir leave Waterford to fight Constantin II King of Alba and Ealdred King of Northumbria. In the Battle of Corbridge that ensued that same year Ottir dies. Although Constantine and Ealdred were defeated, the Viking army was not strong enough to take control over all of Northumbria and the northern part (former Bernicia) remained in the hands of Ealdred who acknowledged the overlordship of Ragnal. Ragnal himself remained in York as king of Viking Northumbria.

919 – Niall Glundub, High King of Ireland, attacks Dublin but at the Battle of Kylmehauog Sihtric defeats him “the most devastating defeat the Irish ever had” by Vikings. Niall and 12 other Irish kings are killed.

920 – Ragnal King of York accepts Edward the Elder, king of Wessex, as father and overlord.

921 – Ragnal Ui Imar dies in York. His brother Sihtric sails from Dublin and takes the throne at York. The third brother, Gofraid, takes the seat at Dublin. In the following years Gofraid raids many settlements in Ireland, among them Armagh, Limerick, Kilkenny, Linn and Osraige.

922 – Tomrair Helgason arrives in Limerick with a huge fleet from an unknown place of departure. His ancestry is uncertain but he evidently did not belong to the Uí Ímair dynasty of which Tomrair, the first King of Limerick, would immediately make himself the chief rival. For the next 12 years he and his successors fought against the Vikings of Dublin for the supremacy over the Viking settlements of Ireland.

927 – King Sihtric dies a sudden death in York, but before Gofraid sets out to take the throne there, Sihtric’s father in law, Æthelstan King of the Anglo-Saxons, invades York and defeats the Viking army there. Æthelstan then creates the Earldom of Northumbria placing Ealdred of Bamburgh as Earl. On 12 July 927, a gathering of kings from throughout Britain took place at Eamont Bridge. Present were Æthelstan King of the Anglo-Saxons, Constantíne II king of Alba, Owain I of Strathclyde, Hywel Dda King of Welsh Seisyllwg, and Ealdred Earl of Northumbria. In the treaty that was signed there, all the present kings recognized the overlordship of Æthelstan. This is generally seen as the date of the foundation of the Kingdom of England. In Ireland Brian Boru was born.

934 – Gofraid “the most cruel king of the Norsemen” dies in Dublin and his son Amlaib becomes king. At the same year Æthelstan invades Alba after Constantine II and Owen I of Strathclyde broke the treaty signed on 927 at Eamont Bridge. A negotiated settlement may have ended matters and a son of Constantine was given as a hostage to Æthelstan. Constantin himself acknowledged Æthelstan’s overlordship again. Yet, a year later Constantine denounced the agreement again.

936 – Amlaib of Dublin defeats Amlaíb Cenncairech of Limerick at Loch Rib and finally establishes Dublin as the major Viking city of Ireland.

937 – Setting his eyes on Jorvik, lost to the Anglo-Saxons a decade ago, Amlaib of Dublin allies with Constantine II King of Alba and Owen I king of Strathclyde in their attempt of a revolt against Æthelstan of England. Around October 937, Amlaib with armies collected from all over Viking Ireland, Man, Hebrides and Iceland sailed west to England. At the same time Constantine II and Owen I marched south from Scotland. The allied forces met with Æthelstan’s army at the Battle of Brunanburh. The Poem of Brunanburh battle describes the slaughter of kings, princes and men in both sides and the fleeing of Amlaib and Constantine back to their homelands. Among the dead were Constantine’s son and Amlaib’s vassal Gebeachan who was the ruler of Man and the Isles.

939 – Athelstan of England dies, and Amlaib of Dublin sails to take back York into Ui Imair hands. He defeats Edmund (Athelstan’s brother and successor) and wins control over Viking Northubria

941 – Amlaib Gofraidsson dies in York. His oldest son, Amlaib Cuaran ascends to the throne of Northumbria, while another son, Blacaire remains as King of Dublin. The later sacks Armagh in 943.

944 – In revenge for the sacking of Armagh, Congalach Cnogba the High King of Ireland sacks Dublin. At the same year Amlaib Cuaran is driven out of York by Edmund of England.

945 – after a failed attempt to retake York, Amlaib Cuarran returns to Dublin and allies with Congalach Cnogba. He then deposes Blacaire from the throne. Alas, two years later, in 947, Ruaidrí ua Canannáin rival of Congalach defeats Amlaib Cuaran and Congalach in the Battle of Slane. He then takes the High Kingship of Ireland, and drives Amlaib Cuaran away from Dublin, installing Blacaire back on the throne of Dublin.

948 – A great battle took place in Dublin in which Blacaire along with 1000 Dubliners, was killed by Congalach Cnogba, and Dublin was sacked. Following the death of Blacaire, Gofraid Sitricsson takes the throne of Dublin. At the same year the Northumbrians depose Eadred of Wessex from the throne and place the Norwegian Viking Eric Bloodaxe, son of Harald I, as King of York.

949 – Eadred of Wessex launches an attack on Northumbria, and after the Battle of Castleford, the Northumbrians depose Eric from the throne and offer it back to Eadred. However, Amlaib Cuaran, who was just driven out of Dublin two years ago, returns to York and takes the kingship there by force.

950 – Gofraid of Dublin allies with Congalach against his overlord, High King Ruaidri, and in the great battle that ensued on the Hill of Tara the High King and his son were killed. Congalach however, betrayed Gofraid and attacked him on the battlefield. The result was 6000 dead Dubliners and a bitter defeat. Gofraid fled back to Dublin.

951 – In return to Congalach’s betrayal, Gofraid raids the Abbey of Kells. At the same day Dublin is struck by a Plague that lasts a year and a day.

952 – Eric Bloodaxe returns to York with a vengeance. He defeats the Northumbrians and their allies from Alba and Strathclyde and takes the throne of Northumbria. Amlaib Cuaran flees to Dublin. When he arrives there he learns that King Gofraid just died of the plague, and Amlaib retakes the throne.

954 – The Northumbrians revolt and expel Eric Bloodaxe from the city. He is killed by one of his men on his way back to Norway. Weeks later Eadred of Wessex takes Northumbria and annexes it into his kingdom. Eadred installs Oswulf, high reeve of Bamburgh as Earl. Northumbria was never an independent entity again.

956 – Congalach, now High King of Ireland is assassinated. The new High King is Domnall Ua Neill, brother to Amlaib Cuaran’s wife.

957 – Edgar the Peaceful becomes King of England

960’s – During the first years of the 960’s Amlaib Cuaran had to deal with internal conflict in Dublin. The sons of Amlaib Gofraidsson (king of Dublin 934-939) tried to depose him from the throne, but he defeats them in two battles and by 964 he was strong enough to resume the viking habit of raiding other settlements in Ireland. In 968 however, it is Dublin that was raided by Domnall Ua Neill, High King of Ireland. The following year Amlaib and his new ally, Morchad Mac Finn the king of Leinster, raid the Abbey of Kells, and defeat Domnalls army in Meath. A short while after, In 970, Domnall ua Neill attacks Amlaib and the King of Brega. After he defeats them he continues marching on other kingdoms of Ireland.

976 – Brian Boru becomes King of Dal Cais

977 – Domnall ua Niell controls most of Irland’s kingdoms when his two sons are assassinated. He resigns from office and retires to the monastery at Armagh where he died in 980. Mael Sechnaill mac Domnaill (Mael Sechnaill II), who is Amlaib’s stepson, becomes the new High King.

978 – After three battles against Ivar and then Harald the kings of Limerick, and against other rival kings, Brian Buro becomes King of Munster.

979 – Mael Sechnail burns “Thors Woods” outside Dublin. This enfuriouses Amlaib Cuaran who calls all his vassals and allies from the Isle of Man and the Hebrides to war.

980 – The army of Dublin and the Hebrides led by Ragnall, Amlaib Cuaran’s son (Amlaib is a very old man now…), meets the army of Mael Sechnaill and of Leinster at the Battle of the Hill of Tara. The defeat was a crushing blow to Dublin. The following days the city was sacked and burned. Amlaib was exiled to the monastery at Iona where he died in 981. Ragnall was killed and another son of Amlaib, Gluniairn, was put on the throne by Mael Sechnail as a puppet king. This appointment was not agreed by all the Ui Imar, and as a result the Kingdom collapsed into smaller city-kingdoms.

980 – Two of the Viking-lords who did not accept the over-lordship of Gluniairn were Gofraid Haraldsson and his brother Maccus, the lords of Man and the Hebrides, famous warrior Vikings who raided Wales and eastern Ireland during the 970’s. They were Amlaib Cuaran’s nephews and sons of Harald Sitricsson who died in 940. Maccus freed himself from vassalage to Dublin and proclaimed himself the new King of the Islands.

981 – Sigurd the Stout becomes Earl of Orkney. His Earldom includes the Shetlands and the Orkneys, as well as Ross, Moray, Sutherland and Caithness in mainland Scotland.

984 – Maccus King of the Isles and his brother Gofraid ally with Ivar of Waterford and Brian Boru King of Munster against Gluniain and his overlord High King Mael Sechnail, but in the battle that took place near Dublin they were defeated, and Maccus died.

985 – On Christmas Eve Sigurd the Stout raids Iona and kills 15 of the monks there

987 – Gluniain attempts an attack on the Isle of Man, but he is defeated there by Gofraid. Gofraid however, was too weak by then to oppose Sigurd the Stout who at the same year conquers most of the Hebrides, and places his man Gilli as Jarl of the Isles.

989 – Ivar of Waterford conquers Dublin and kills Gluiniain. At the same year, Sigurd the Stout and his Jarl Gilli win a great battle on the Isle of Man. Gofraid is killed and Gilli becomes lord of the Island. From Man Sigurd continues to attack Kintyre, Anglesey and Wales. Following this victory and Sigurds rise in power, Olaf Tryggvason, King of Norway and Sigurd’s overlord, sails to the Islands and converts Sigurd and all the inhabitants of Man and the Isles to Christianity.

990 – Brian Boru conquers Leinster. Seeing the economic power of Dublin, Olaf Tryggvason decides to stay there with Ivar of Waterford who has no choice but submit to the power of Norway.

995 – Olaf Tryggvason leaves Dublin back to Norway. With the Norwegian army leaving Dublin Sihtric Silkbeard (Gluiniain’s brother) attacks Dublin and expels Ivar back to Waterford where he dies two years later. Somewhere in Denmark Canut the Great is born – son of Sweyn Forkbeard the king of Denmark

999 – Brian Boru defeats Sihtric Silkbeard and Máel Mórda of Leinster in the Battle of Glenn Mama. He then conquers Dublin and Silkbeard submits to him. In Dublin, Boru finds Ragnall son of Gofraid, whose father was killed on the Isle of Man by Sigurd the Stout. At the same year, Olaf Tryggvason King of Norway is defeated by the Kings of Sweden and Denmark and Scandinavia is united under the Danish crown worn by Sweyn Forkbeard, Canut’s father.

Inde ascendet Ui Imair ad ortum Orcadas (From the rise of Ui Imair to the rise of Orkney)

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