In contrast to most of Scotland, the north-western coast and the islands beyond were a region of mixed political control as well as culture into the sixteenth century. The divergent influences of Celtic and Scandinavian culture were more marked here than in the evolving mainland kingdom of Scots. It was a physically remote region of substantial autonomy under its own dynasties.
Timothy Venning explores the whole of the lordship of the Isles at its widest extent, under Somerled MacGillebride (ruled c. 1130-64), encompassing the kingdom of Man during its independent history, plus the mainland domains of Somerled's family in the western Highlands. He also covers the jarldom of Orkney, a Scandinavian lordship divided between involvement in and allegiance to Scotland and Norway until the later fifteenth century.
This book traces the complex story of the kings and lesser lords who ruled the region and the continuing autonomy of the area's clans until the catastrophe of 1745-46 when those clans loyal to their traditional sovereigns were decimated for backing the Stuart invasion. The London government then suppressed an entire culture. The story shows the dynamics of a richly varied world alien to centralised modern Britain.
Timothy Venning studied history at Kings College, London to PhD level, winning the London University History Prize in 1979. He has written articles for the Dictionary of National Biography, as well as a book on Oliver Cromwell and reference works on British office-holders and the chronology of the Byzantine Empire. He also contributes to major biographical publications and his research forms the basis for many other publications.