About the Isle of Man
The Isle of Man is a small island situated in the Irish Sea mid way between Ireland and the North of England, and just south of Galloway in Scotland. It is approximately 32 miles long and varies in width between 8 and 15 miles distance, with a total surface area of some 221 square miles. The capital is Douglas and in 2006 the population of the whole island was approximately 80,000 inhabitants.
The history of the Isle of Man during the last 2,000 years falls naturally into three periods. In the first of these the island was inhabited by the original Celtic dwellers, the next is marked by the Viking invasions and the establishment of Scandinavian rule and the third period is marked by dominion by the English. There is no evidence to suggest that the Romans ever had any influence here.
Little is known or remains to tell us about the history of the Isle of Man during the Celtic period other than the Island was visited around 500 AD by Irish missionaries, amongst who, it was said, was Saint Patrick, and the original Celtic population was gradually converted to Christianity. Early Manx church remains from this time are very similar to those in Ireland. The shared legacy of the Gaelic language remained also.
Scandinavian Rule (798-1266)
From about 800 to 850 AD the Norse Vikings came to the Island in sporadic raids to plunder but gradually numbers of Vikings started to settle there and it became more of a base for them. Between 850 and 990 AD the Isle of Man gradually came under the rule of the Scandinavian Kings of Dublin. During the following century, control of the Island changed hands a number of times between various Scandinavian rulers until in 1079 it was conquered by the army of Godfred Crovan, son of King Harold the Black of Iceland. He was the person commemorated in Manx legend under the name of King Gorry or Orry and ruled from 1079 -1095.
In 1263 King Alexander III of Scotland made an attempt to try and regain the territory of the Western Isles from Scandinavian rule and engaged in battle with King Haakon of Norway and his fleet off the Scottish coast. He was joined by Magnus with a fleet of Manx ships. The Norwegians were defeated at the battle of Largs and Magnus was allowed to retain the Isle of Man only on the condition that he paid homage to King Alexander. In 1265 Magnus died, and the following year a treaty was signed between Norway and Scotland which handed the Isle of Man over to the Scots.
From then began a protracted period of troubles in Manx history as the island became a pawn in the long struggle between Scotland and England, being alternately held and raided by both nations, as well as by the Irish. In 1313 Robert the Bruce, the then King of Scotland, landed at Ramsey, and, marching via Douglas, laid siege to and captured Castle Rushen. In 1334 Edward III of England granted the Island to William de Montacute, Earl of Salisbury. In 1405 Henry IV bestowed the Island upon his loyal follower, Sir John Stanley, and his heirs. The line of the Stanley family held the Isle of Man for more than 300 years during which time gradual changes in the feudal laws and systems of the island were introduced, with the power of the church being subordinated to that of civil law.
During the twentieth century the Island has achieved a large measure of self-government as a Crown dependency. The British Crown retains responsibility for ensuring the good government of the Island and for its external affairs, but the Island's democratically elected government exercises full control of its internal affairs and territorial waters, and it does not form part of the European Union and is not subject to its rules and constraints.
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