Crovan dynasty

Crovan dynasty
The division between the lands of the Crovan dynasty and Clann Somhairle, in about 1200.

The Crovan dynasty, from the late 11th century to the mid 13th century, was the ruling family of an insular kingdom known variously in secondary sources as the Kingdom of Mann, the Kingdom of the Isles, and the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles. The eponymous founder of the dynasty was Godred Crovan, who appeared from obscurity in the late 11th century, before his takeover of the Isle of Man and Dublin. The dynasty was of Gaelic-Scandinavian origin, possibly descending from a branch of the Uí Ímair, a dominate kindred in the Irish Sea region which first appears on record in the late 9th century.

Leading members of the Crovan dynasty formed marriage-alliances with the Irish and Norwegian kings, as well as Hebridean, Gallovidian, and Anglo-Norman lords, and possibly Welsh princes as well. Surrounded by sometimes threatening English, Norwegian and Scottish monarchs, and various warlords from the western seaboard of Scotland, the leading members of the dynasty at times tactfully recognised the overlordship of certain kings of Norway and England, and even the Papacy. The military might of the dynasty were their fleets of galleys, and their forces battled in Ireland, the Hebrides, Wales, and the Isle of Man. The importance of the galley to the sea-kings of the Crovan dynasty is illustrated in its implementation upon seals that certain members are known to have used.

Alex Woolf believes the Clann Somhairle can be regarded as a female line cadet branch of the Crovan dynasty and through them the Uí Ímair.[1]


  • Downham, Clare (2007), Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland: The Dynasty of Ívarr to A.D. 1014, Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press, ISBN 978-1-903765-89-0 .
  • McDonald, R. Andrew (2007), Manx Kingship in its Irish sea Setting, 1187–1229: King Rǫgnvaldr and the Crovan dynasty, Dublin: Four Courts Press, ISBN 978-1-84682-047-2 .

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