Lordship of the Isles


What is the Lordship?
People of the Lordship
Customs and Culture
List of Islands
Festivals and Ceremonies
Gaelic Law
The Armed Forces


Eilean na Comhairle

The Lordship of the Isles is currently ruled by the Macdonald dynasty, the name meaning 'son of world ruler.' The Lord of the Isles has his council on Eilean na Comhairle - one of two islands in Loch Finlaggan, Islay, the other being Eilean Mor where he lives with his family.

The council is made up of four thanes (one of the highest ranks of power in the Lordship, and usually only individuals who have earned their inheritance and have a claim to it through tanistry are given the rank), four armins (the equivalent of lords), and four squires (or tacksmen - the distant relatives, often through handfasting and fostering, of chiefs, who managed one of the clachans commissioned by the Lord of the Isles), but the retainers of the Lord of the Isles and occasionally assorted people of much influence may also be present (the most common would likely have been the purse-bearer, cup-bearer, sword-bearer, chief of horse, and lieutenant).

There are also judges for every island, who have a seat at the council, although unless their island is of particular importance or there is a situation which needs to be brought to the attention of the Lord of the Isles they may not always be present when the council meets. It is through these judges that individuals may appeal to the Lord of the Isles himself (it definately seems that anyone could ask the government something, but that would be very special for a medieval state, and we must remember that despite the conclusions we may draw from existing evidence that this may not have been the case, and it may only have been about legal or political matters that people could contact Macdonald).

Loch Finlaggan
not much left of the castle, chapel, and dun, but they're still noticeable

Administrative Districts

The Lordship of the Isles is divided into administrative districts by island, or, when on a large island or the mainland, the clachans that have been established in the area. A clachan is a small village, usually of eight or so families, commissioned by the Lord of the Isles to improve production in an area. They are given a tacksman to manage them, and these tacksmen may acquire many clachans if they prove to be effective. If the clachans are near each other, the tacksman may take charge of an area of land, and that land effectively belongs to him at the discretion of the Lord of the Isles, thus creating a new administrative district.

In the case of large towns, they are not made into a separate district, but are instead the capital of their island's administrative district.


The Lordship of the Isles makes no distinction between regions and provinces, although provinces (such as the counties in Ireland) are often given more independence (sometimes even their own ruling family, such as the MacDonnells) and an armin to manage their affairs. They are regions just as open to settlement as anywhere else, however, and often clachans will be commissioned there, which are managed by a local leader rather than a tacksman from the Lordship of the Isles.

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