Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Reginald or Ranald MacSomerled

In continuation of the history of Clan McDonald, originally Cholla,

I previously noted that Malcolm IV died in the year following Sumerled's assassination and that there were sons left to inherit his kingdom. Besides his sons, Ranald,Angus and Dugald, his nephews, sons of his wife Regnhilde's brother Godred, also believed they had a claim to at least the half of the kingdom which Sumerled had taken from Godred, the Isle of Mann. Malcolm IV was succeeded by his brother William the Lion, whom I also descend from. I sometimes find it interesting just how many of my ancestors hated each other.

In this case it seems that there was no open hostility, because during William the Lion's reign,there were no further efforts on his part to take possession of the kingdom Somerled left to his sons. And apparently, they did not try to attack the mainland either.

The territory left behind by Somerled extended from the Butt of Lewis to the southerly point of Man. After his death, his brother in law whom he had taken the Isle of Man from, returned to resume possession of it and the Northern Isles of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra and some lesser isles.

His son Ranald or Reginald inherited Kintyre and Isla, the lands of Clan Cholla, Dughall inherited Lorn, Mull, and Jura; Angus received Bute and a part of Arran, and the Rough bounds extending from Ardnamurchan to Glenelg. The remainder of the North Oithir from Glenelg to Lochbroom were given to the Lay Abbot of Applecross. These lands held by the three brothers were an independent principality, not held by Scotland and owing no allegiance to Norway.

Reginald drove his brother, Angus out of Arran and Bute and then followed Angus and his sons to Garmoran which was the northern possession of Angus in1192. They fought a battle and Angus was the victor. Eighteen years later, Angus and his three sons were killed by the men of Skye, which island was in the possession of the Norwegian King of Man and the Isles. These Norsemen most likely invaded Moidart, part of Angus' possessions. With their deaths, Reginald or Ranald and his son Roderick inherited his brothers lands. Some of the lands were also given to Ranald and Angus' other brother Dugall, but they continued to fight over the ownership of Mull for more than 100 years.

Ranald was recorded to have been a popular leader, "feared in war, but loved in peace". According to the History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles By Alexander Mackenzie Reginald or Ranald was the first called Lord of the Isles, whether he assumed the name or was given it by his followers is unclear. Both Ranald and his brother Dugall were called King of the Isles and their cousin Reginald, son of Godred was called King of Man and the Isles. It appears that the term king was used among the Norwegians not just to mean a supreme ruler, but to also mean a prince of royal blood or a magnate.

Archibald MacDonald says it is unclear which of Somerled's sons was the eldest, because at that time the law of primogeniture was not in effect in the isles. However, he does think that Dugall was the second son and as such would have been the natural choice to inherit his mother's right to the Isle of Man when the barons of Man rose against Godred in 1155. He seems to be justifiable of the opinion that Ranald was his father's successor to the domains of Oirthirghael. He inherited the lands that had been connected to their family and its seat, those of Kintyre and Isla, and presumably, the prestige that went with them. Archibald MacDonald also points to the fact that the historians of the time, give preferencial treatment to Ranald and his sons over those of Dugall.

Whichever view prevails concerning which son was the eldest, Reginald or Ranald is most likely the progenitor of the MacDonald Clan. Ranald died in 1207, the date is given in the Book of Clanranald. He married Fonia, who was the daughter of the Earl of Moray, who would have been close relation.The History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles, states that this was Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray.His father, Somerled's sister had married the Earl of Moray. They had three sons, Donald,Roderick, and Dugall. According to the Antiquities of Arran, by John MacArthur, the monastery of the Holy Isle was established on the Islet of Lamlash and was subject to the Cistercian monastery of Kintyre which his father Somerled had established and been buried in.

The clan Donald By Archibald Macdonald
The Antiquities of Arran by John M'Arthur - 1861
History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles By Alexander Mackenzie
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