[Notes 3-4 from Manx Soc vol 22 Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys]

NOTE 3, p. 50.–Haroldus Harphrage–Harfager-.

This is the powerful King Harold just mentioned, who appears under the erroneous surname of "Harfager" in all English chronicles, where he is mentioned, even as early as in the almost contemporary entries in Chronicum Saxonicum. The surname of " harfagri" (fair-haired) did not belong to him, but to his ancestor, Harold founder of the Norwegian kingdom (853-933) who got the name on account of his beautiful yellow hair. The younger Harold, however, the one here mentioned, was called "harðraði," the hard ruler, because he ruled with a strong hand. The Angles, misled by the similarity of the sound, confounded both appellations. Of Harold's expedition to England, and the battle of Stamford bridge (September 25, 1066), little needs to be said here, the particulars being sufficiently known from English chronicles, as well as from Norwegian sagas. Among the vassals of Harold, who were obliged to furnish him with auxiliary troops, and even to participate in the combat, were the above mentioned young Earls of Orkney, Paul and Erlend.1


1 [September 25 or 27 are given by English writers as the date of the battle of Stamford Bridge, the most bloody recorded in our annals : at the distance of fifty years the spot was still whitened with the bones of the slain. Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, embarked with a gallant army and a fleet of 300 sail, and was joined by Tostig, the exiled Earl of Northumberland, at the mouth of the Tyne. Both lost their lives in this battle, but the diversion they made was favourable to William of Normandy, who landed in England on the 29th of September. The battle of Hastings, in which fell Harold, Godwin's son, the conqueror at Stanford bridge, was fought October 14, 1066–Ling. i. 362-375.]

NOTE 4, p. 50.–Godredus cognomento Crowan filius Haraldi nigri de Ysland.

Godred, the founder of the royal dynasty of Man,1 appears here abruptly, nothing further being said of his ancestors or of his origin than that he was the son of Harold the Black "of Ysland." There can, however, be very little doubt that in aspiring subsequently to the crown of Man, and really making himself king of the Island, with its appendages, he vindicated only what he regarded as his hereditary rights. If he had not belonged to a royal line, or if his ancestors had not enjoyed the title of king, it would have been almost impossible, according to the feelings or opinions of those days, that he should have ventured to assume it. The title of king, among the northern, nay, generally among the German tribes, was in itself strictly hereditary it did not even cling to, or rest upon the possession of lands, but was a mere personal distinction the word in itself, kon-ungr, As. cyn-ing, designates only " a man of family " (kon or kyn, As. cyn, Got. kuni). Therefore even the powerful Earl Hacon, who ruled over the greater part of Norway, and had sixteen earls under himself, did never presume to decorate himself with the royal title ; he belonged to an "Earl's-line" not to a "King's-line," and must accordingly acquiesce in the title of earl. Taking it, consequently, for granted, that Godred descended from a royal family, and that his ancestors were kings, we think it very probable, nay, almost certain, that his grandfather was no other than the above mentioned 2 Godred, son of Harold, who was killed in 989. In those times it was a rule, pretty generally observed among the northern tribes, as it is still in many parts of Norway, that the grandson got the name of the grandfather, and this well-known fact affords very often a great clue to the determination of genealogies. Now, Godred. being son of Harold, and. having himself a son called Harold, was likewise no doubt a grandson of another Godred, son of Harold ; and the time in which this supposed grandfather must have lived coincides entirely with that just indicated,a ~ that there can be little doubt of their identity. Godred ~ the elder had accordingly, as we believe, two sons,—Donald, who was killed in 989, and, having a Gaelic name which was not usual in the family, seems to have been a bastard, born before his father’s marriage ; and Harold, the father of Godred Crowan, no doubt born in wedlock, and heir to his title and estates, but younger!~ Harold, the father of Godred Crowan, is called " Haraldus niger de Ysland " in the chronicle.

This name Ysland, has been construed by some interpreters as being a blunder for "Ireland," which, however, is not very probable, Ireland being throughout the whole book always styled Ybernia. We will not utterly deny the possibility of perhaps Iceland being meant, as it would in itself he not at all unlikely that Harold the Black, after his father’s death, might have retired to Iceland, as so many other Norwegian warriors from those parts did, and that his son Godred, watching every opportunity for regaining the lands of his ancestors, stepped forth to follow King Harold on his expedition. However, seeing that the epithet " de Ysland " stands here evidently as a territorial designation, but not as a mere indication of the country from whence Harold or Godred came, we are rather inclined to think that it means neither Ireland nor Iceland, but the island of Isla, which in other places of the book is called Yle, but might for once, through a blunder or inconsequence of the writer, have been called "Ysland." It is not to be overlooked. that Godred died in the island of Isla, which may seem to involve that he generally resided there, and that it was his paternal domain. If this be right, he appeared then, perhaps, among the followers of Harold as a vassal either of the king himself or of the Orkneyan Earls.

Godred the son of Sytric (i.e., Sigtryggr), who reigned in Man, when Godred Crowan came there, seems, to judge from his patronymic name, to have belonged to the dynasty of Dublinian kings ; perhaps even he was himself King of Dublin. The Irish annals say, that when Diarmid, King of Leinster (AD. 1052), had vanquished and put to flight the King of Dublin, Eachmargath (in the sagas called Marga~r), son of Ragnvald (Reginald), he was for some time Lord of Dublin, together with his son Murchad, who made the Island of Man tributary (AD. 1060), having defeated " Mac Reginald" (the son of Ragnvald).a After the fall of Diarmid, however, in 1072, we find on the royal throne of Dublin one Godred, " grandson of Ragnvald," who died in 1075,and after him another Godred, called " Mananagh " (he of Man), who ruled till 1094, and died in 1095, being, as we shall see, no other person than Godred Crowan. b Now it seems scarcely to admit of any doubt that the first mentioned Godred, grandson of Ragnvald, was no other person than the Godred, son of Sytric, in our Chronicle, and that, consequently, the anonymous " Son of Ragnvald," who was defeated by Murchad in 1060, was Sytric or Sigtrygg, the father of Godred.

It must be supposed that Godred, having hereditary right to Dublin, returned thither immediately after the fall of Diarmid the usurper. To be sure, the Chronicle of Man assigns to the death of Godred the year 1051, which, as the battle of Stanford bridge is said to have taken place in 1047, ought to signify 1070. Yet we have already had instances enough to prove that the years of Christ given in the earlier part of the Chronicle are generally erroneous, and must be corrected by comparison with other statements. Now, as Godred Crowan (as will be seen hereafter) died in 1095, and our Chronicle states expressly that he reigned over Man for sixteen years from the time of the conquest, this event must have taken place in 1079 or 1080, not, as our Chronicle has it, in 1074 or 1075 (signified by 1056). Here, therefore, is a miscalculation of four (or rather twenty-three), or five (twenty-four) years, and this difference, added to 1070 (1051), in which our Chronicle places the death of Godred, make exactly 1074 or 1075.c Moreover, there still exists a letter, written in AD. 1074, by Godred, " Rex Hiberniæ " to Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury, requesting the consecration of Gillepatrick, elected bishop of Dublin after the demise of Duncan,9 and as this Godred cannot possibly be Godred Crowan, it must have been Godred the son of Sigtrygg, who, accordingly, was still living in 1074.

In the Chronicles of Ulster there is subsequently an entry for the year 1087, purporting " that the grandsons of Ragnvald," accompanied by the son of the King of Ulster, went to Man with a fleet, but were killed. These must have been the brothers of Godred, and perhaps even his son, the exiled Fingall, of whom no more is said in our Chronicle, although there is no mention made of his being killed when Godred Crowan conquered the island. Very likely, therefore, he retired to Ireland, his proper home, from whence he afterwards made the unsuccessful expedition just mentioned.

All these facts, however, seem sufficiently to prove that during the interval between the death of Godred the son of Harold, in 989, and the accession of Godred Crowan, in 1079, or 1080, the Island of Man must have been au appendage of the Norwegian kingdom of Dublin, whereas it would appear that the Isles chiefly belonged to the Earls of Orkney.

As to the tale of the manner in which Godred Crowan conquered Man, and became the real owner of the soil, it seems very likely that this is a kind of anachronism, and that tradition, not supported by authentic records, has assigned to the Godred of 1080, what, if after all it was a real fact, belonged to another Godred of much earlier times, the hero of popular legends, who was identified with the Godred of later days, because the historical traditions in the island itself did not Teach farther backward. A legendary character pervades the whole narrative. What especially seems to remind us of an age much earlier than 1080, is the account of Godred’s having acquired the personal property of the soil, excluding the hereditary rights of the inhabitants.10

The same tale almost is told of the conqueror of Norway, Harold Harfagri, who is said to have appropriated to himself all udal (ôðal, hereditary lands), so that henceforth the possessors of lands did not retain them in their own right, but had them only in farm or fief from the king. Something like it is even told of the conqueror-Kings of Denmark in the 9th century, and of Einar, Earl of Orkney, who lived at the same time ; indeed, there can be no doubt that the same or similar legends, only with local variations, existed all over the German world, where kingdoms or lordships had been founded by conquest, in which case the property of the soil always, or generally, was allotted to the conqueror. Now, as the conquest of the Isle of Man by the Norwegians must have taken place in the 9th century, it is also more likely that the acquisition of the dominium glebæ 11 by the conqueror must have taken place then, than afterwards. It is even not improbable that the surname of Crowan belonged to that conqueror, and not to the Godred of 1080 ; only the inhabitants of Man, knowing that Godred Crowan was their first Norwegian king, but not remembering any older than Godred son of Harold the Black, identified this Godred with the hero of the legend.

If we are not mistaken it is, or has at least been, usual in the Isle of Man itself, to assign to Godred Crowan some of the oldest pagan monuments without inscriptions, found in the island, greatly anterior to the times of the Christian Godred here spoken of ; and this seems to prove that the national legends of Man always regarded Godred Crowan as representing the oldest possible times of the Norwegian settlement in the island. Even what is told of the awe with which he is said to have inspired the Scots, bears evidently a true legendary character. Putting aside, therefore, in this manner, from the history of Godred, as it is told here, what seems to us not strictly historical, we retain as undisputed the fact of his having conquered Man, and the subsequent conquest of Dublin, etc., which is fully confirmed by Irish annals. 12

The death of Godred the Conqueror is expressly stated in the Irish annals to have taken place in 1095. In the Norwegian Saga of King Hacon IV., the accuracy of which is amply proved, it is said that King. Magnus took the Isles from Godred, which shows that Godred must needs have outlived at least the first expedition of Magnus to the Western Islands, which took place in 1093-94. Consequently, the final conquest of Man by Godred, which is stated in the Chronicle itself to have been effected about sixteen years before his death, must have taken place in 1079, or 1080, not in 1075, 13 as the Chronicle has it ; that is to say, when the nineteen years are added, of which all the numbers, given in the codex from A.D. 1046 downwards till 1093 are shortcoming.



1 [See Appendix No 55]

2 [See page 135]

3 As Godred himself lived in the times of Edward the Confessor, and William the Conqueror, his father must have been the contemporary of Cnut, and his grandfather of Æðelréd and Edward the martyr.

4 [This genealogy does not agree with that given by Dr. Todd, p. 271.]

5 [Robertson calls Godred Crovan or " the White Hand," son of Harold the Black of Iceland, i. 163.]

6 Annals of the Four Masters. [Eachmargath, driven from Dublin by Diarmid, was the son of Ragnald, who was the son of Olave Cuaran, or Olave of the Sandal. He had succeeded his uncle Sitric at Dublin, when in 1035 he went beyond the sea, probably into religious retirement. Ragnald the father of Eachmargath was amongst the slain at Tara. Todd 190-1.]

7 Tighernach, and Annals of Ulster.

8 [The deaths of Godred is placed by the Chronicle in 1051, and the conquest of Man in 1056 ; but to each of those dates nineteen years must be added, so that these years become what Munch has made them in the text, 1070 and 1075. See note 1, p. 123.]

9 Baronii Annales, t. Xi. p. 641. Here also the answer of Lanfranc to Godred is inserted, showing that Godred at this time was the reigning King of Dublin. Lanfranc gives him the title of " Rex Hiberniæ. " [See the letters of Gregory VII. and of Lanfranc, in Appendix, Nos. 1 and 2. The first may perhaps explain also why the archbishop elect of Dublin was sent for consecration to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The letter of Gregory VII to Lanfranc is given in Baronius, under AD. 1073, that of Lanfranc to Godred under AD. 1089 ; this is owing to some letters of Lanfranc, not before alluded to by Baronius, being added in the year to which Baronius attributes his death. No letter of Godred to Lanfranc is given by Baronius, but the letter of Lanfranc makes the probability of such a letter having been written very great.]

10 [Robertson, commenting on this acquisition of Godred, says that the abrogation of the odahlers’ rights appears to have been the first step invariably taken by Scandinavian conquerors. The result was taxation, the king, or jarl, asserting his right to the land. His division of the island, he thinks was probably the reason of the two Deemsters or Judges of Man, i. 164, n.]

11 [Property of the soil.]

12 [In the Irish annals Godred is surnamed Meranach, or the Bad.—Robertson, i. 164, n.]

13 a [Robertson says that Godred conquered Man in 1075, or five years after the invasion of Malcolm, but he does not give any grounds for the statement ; i. 163, a.]


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