A keystone of contention: the Earldom of Ross, 1215-1517

Cochran-Yu, David Kyle (2016) A keystone of contention: the Earldom of Ross, 1215-1517. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3151403


The earldom of Ross was a dominant force in medieval Scotland. This was primarily due to its strategic importance as the northern gateway into the Hebrides to the west, and Caithness and Sutherland to the north. The power derived from the earldom’s strategic situation was enhanced by the status of its earls. From 1215 to 1372 the earldom was ruled by an uninterrupted MacTaggart comital dynasty which was able to capitalise on this longevity to establish itself as an indispensable authority in Scotland north of the Forth. By the fifteenth century the earldom had passed to an equally powerful dynasty, the MacDonald lords of the Isles, and became a part of one of the most powerful regional hegemonies of medieval Scotland.

The earldom and the power of its earls are acknowledged by most scholars, yet it remains a relatively under-analysed subject, as scholarship tends to gravitate towards viewing Ross through the MacDonald lordship of the Isles, or through the Scottish kings. This has led to Ross being treated as a secondary subject. Moreover, little has been done to compare the two principal dynasties that ruled the earldom and explore issues of continuity between the two.

This thesis will study Ross through the comital dynasties that ruled it and the important local magnates within it, and will provide a Ross-centred platform from which to analyse the political development of the earldom. The thesis will also address issues of continuity, beginning with the origins of the Mac ant t-sagairt earldom and trace its political evolution until the MacDonald claim to Ross was finally extinguished in the early sixteenth century. This thesis will be the first long duree study of this Scottish earldom, and will increase our understanding of Ross and its earls who were so vital to Scotland’s medieval history.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Earldom of Ross, Medieval Scotland, Medieval Lordship, Medieval Earldoms, MacDonalds, MacTaggarts.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities
College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Celtic and Gaelic
College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Clancy, Professor Thomas Owen
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: David Kyle Cochran-Yu
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7242
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2016 11:07
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2016 14:33
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/7242

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