Godred II Olafsson

Godred II Olafsson

Godred Olafsson (Gaelic: Gofraid mac Amlaíb; Old Norse: Guðrøðr Óláfsson), also known as Godred II, was a 12th century King of Mann and the Isles. His father, Olaf Godredsson (d. 1153), ruled the island-kingdom before him as did Godred's paternal-grandfather, Godred Crovan (d. 1095), who was also the King of Dublin. Some secondary sources style Godred Olafsson and his predecessors "King of Mann", or "King of Mann and the Isles". However these terms are anachronistic with Godred styling himself "King of the Isles". During his father's reign, Godred was sent to Norway to render homage to Inge Haraldsson, King of Norway. In 1153, while Godred was still in Norway, Olaf was assassinated by three of his brother's sons, who then took control of Mann. The following autumn, Godred returned from Norway and regained the kingdom, putting one of his treacherous cousins to death and blinding the other two.

Godred's sister was married to Somerled, Lord of Argyll. In 1154, Godred and Somerled fought an inconclusive naval battle, and the Kingdom of the Isles was divided between the two. This division lasted for over a century until the death of Godred's grandson, the last of the Crovan dynasty of kings. Somerled attacked again in 1158 and drove Godred from the kingdom. Godred appears to have fled to England and later spent time in Scotland before sailing for Norway. He is recorded as taking part in the ongoing dynastic strife in Norway and playing a significant part in the downfall of Inge. According to saga accounts of the Battle of Oslo, Godred betrayed Inge during the battle, which ended in Inge's defeat and death in 1161. Some years later, on the death of Somerled in 1164, the Chronicle of Mann records that Mann was invaded by Godred's younger brother, Ragnvald who was defeated less than a week later when Godred once more took control. About twenty years later, Godred and the Manxmen successfully fought off another invasion led by yet another man named Ragnvald.

According to the Chronicle of Mann, at one point during his reign Godred was invited by the citizens of Dublin to rule as their king. Following his proclamation, the chronicle records that he and the Dubliners fought off an attack by the Irish forces of Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn, before leaving Dublin for home and disbanding his army. The Annals of Ulster may confirm these events, although it dates them to 1162. In the last half of the 12th century, Anglo-Norman adventurers began settling and conquering lands in Ireland. At first, Godred used his powerful fleet of galleys to assist the Dubliners against these invaders. Later he formed an alliance through the dynastic marriage of his daughter, Affreca to John de Courcy, one of the most powerful of the newly established Anglo-Norman lords in Ireland. De Courcy's rise to power in the last quarter of the 12th century was breathtakingly swift, although he was eventually ground down by his rivals and John, King of England, in the early 13th century. Both de Courcy and his wife are recorded as being great benefactors of the Church in Ireland. Affreca is known to have founded Grey Abbey, the ruins of which can be seen today in County Down.

After Godred died in 1187, he was buried the next summer on the sacred Hebridean island of Iona. The oldest building on the island today dates to about the time of his reign, and it is possible that either he or his father were responsible for its creation. Before his death, Godred had originally intended that his young son, Olaf (d. 1237), would succeed him in the kingship. The Manx people instead selected Godred's eldest son, Ragnvald (d. 1229), who was illegitimate in the eyes of the Church. Bitter family-feuding between the two half-brothers, and their followers and allies weakened the kingdom well into the first half of the 13th century. Ragnvald's son, Godred Donn (d. about 1231), was brutally mutilated by Olaf's men in the 1220s. Ragnvald, himself, was treacherously slain battling Olaf in 1229. Olaf's younger son, Magnus (d. 1265), was the last of Godred Crovan's dynasty to reign as king.

Read more about Godred II Olafsson:  Ancestry and Family Connections, Son of The King of The Isles, King of Dublin?, Conflict With Somerled, Exile in Norway, Return To The Isles, Ecclesiastical Events, John De Courcy, Affreca, and The Norman Invasion of Ireland, Death and Succession, Ancestry

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Godred II Olafsson - Ancestry
... Ancestors of Godred II Olafsson Godred Crovan (d. 1153) King of the Isles Godred Olafsson (died 1187) King of the Isles, King of Dublin Fergus (d ...