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Arran of the Bens, The Glens and the Brave
Chapter XVII. King Hakon at Lamlash


That same day, the Saga tells us, King Hakon "sailed away from the Cumbraes and out to Molas Isle (Lamlash), and lay there some nights. Thither came to him those men whom he had sent to Ireland; and told him that the Irish would keep the whole host that winter on the understanding that Hakon would free them from the sway of the Englishmen."

Hakon, however, decided to sail northward to Orkney. He had made a brave fight, but it could only have been a piece of bravado that on his way he gave to Dugall, and Allan his brother, the lands of King Eoghan, Bute to Ruari, and Arran to Margad or Marchad, and also the castle of Dunaverty to Dugall.

The old king reached Kirkwall, there intending to wait till he could gather another force, but the terrible disaster he had suffered, and no doubt fatigue and anger, brought on a fever from which he died. His body was taken to Norway, and buried in the Cathedral of Bergen. He had reigned for nearly fifty years, and his name is one of the greatest on the roll of the Norwegian kings.

The battle of Largs went to Alexander. Much has been made of it, but it was not the victory it has been claimed to be, the force of the Scottish king being an overwhelming one when pitted against the, at the most, few hundred Norsemen who were able to land. In truth, the storm did more for Scotland on that occasion than the forces of its king. The battle, however, ended the most terrible chapter in the history of the Western Isles and Highlands of Scotland. It is true that for a full hundred years, since the days of Somerled, the time had been a comparatively peaceful one in the Southern Isles. Yet still for Scotland it was essential that the Norwegian menace should be removed finally from her doors. It is satisfactory to those who love the Hebrides to remember that one of our own blood and race was undoubtedly the real "Tamer of the Ravens," the true Hammer of the Norsemen, and not the Scottish king.

Hakon was succeeded by Magnus, who, on the death of the King of Man in 1265, was persuaded to hand over all the Western Islands formally to Scotland, it being stipulated in the treaty that such of the subjects of Norway who wished to leave the Hebrides should have full liberty to do so, with all their effects, while those who wished to remain were to become loyal subjects of Scotland.


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