R. Andrew McDonald, |
The Kingdom of the Isles:
Scotland's Western Seaboard
in the Central Middle Ages
The period of Scotland's History 1000-1400 is my favourite, but though a lot has been written about Wallace, Bruce and the struggles of Scotland to remain free from England, not a lot of attention has been paid to the seaboard of Scotland -- the Hebrides, Agryll and the Isle of Man. During this central Middle Ages, the struggle for control of the area was complex, but little focus has been done in trying to sort out the problems of the area or how they played a roll in Scottish history.
Sometimes it takes an outlander to eye the period with a less prejudiced eye. R. Andrew McDonald, an instructor at the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto who has taught at several Canadian universities, turns that eye to the area where no study has been published for the last 50 years. The end result is a truly rounded view of the history of the Isles from 1100 to the 1340s.
McDonald's style is very readable, presenting the rising of the mighty Somerled to his descendant, John MacDonald, the first Lord of the Isles. He shows the changing political mix of the MacDougalls, MacDonalds and MacRuairis, how their internal clan struggles affected or were affected by Scotland's struggle for freedom, how Norway was a big player the affairs. He also addresses the churches and castles that are a constant reminder of these people.
This is a wonderful book for people wishing to know about the medieval period of Scotland's isles.