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Godred Crovan
Godred Crovan (died 1095), known in Gaelic as Gofraid Crobán, Gofraid Meránach, and Gofraid Méránach, was a Norse-Gaelic ruler of the kingdoms of Dublin and the Isles. Although his precise parentage has not completely been proven, he was certainly an Uí Ímair dynast, and a descendant of Amlaíb Cúarán, King of Northumbria and Dublin. Godred first appears on record in the context of supporting the Norwegian invasion of England in 1066. Following the collapse of this campaign, Godred is recorded to have arrived on Mann, at the court of Gofraid mac Sitriuc, King of the Isles, a likely kinsman of his. During the 1070s, the latter died and was succeeded by his son, Fingal. Within the decade, Godred violently seized the kingship for himself, although the exact circumstances surrounding this takeover are uncertain. By 1091, Godred attained the kingship of Dublin, and thereby secured complete control of the valuable trade routes through the Irish Sea region. Godred's expansion may be further perceptible in the Clyde estuary and Galloway, and may well have forced the English to consolidate control of Cumberland in an effort to secure their western maritime flank. Godred appears to have drawn his power from the Hebrides; and archaeological evidence from Mann reveals that, in comparison to the decades previous to his takeover, the island seems to have enjoyed a period of relative peace. During his reign, Godred appears to have lent military assistance to Gruffudd ap Cynan, King of Gwynedd, a probable kinsman, who was then locked in continuous conflicts with Welsh rivals and encroaching English magnates. The earliest known Bishops of the Isles date from about the time of Godred's reign, although it is almost certain that earlier ecclesiastes held this position. It may have been just prior to Godred's accession in the Isles, whilst Dublin was under the ultimate control of Toirdelbach Ua Briain, King of Munster, that Dublin and the Isles were ecclesiastically separated once and for all. Godred's rule in Dublin came to an abrupt end in 1094 with his expulsion at the hands of Muirchertach Ua Briain, King of Munster, a man who may have even driven Godred from Mann as well. Documentary evidence reveals that the last decade of the eleventh century saw an upsurge in plague and famine. According to Irish sources, one quarter of Ireland perished from pestilence in 1095 alone. One of the fatalities was Godred himself, who died on Islay, an apparent power centre in the Isles. Godred's greatest impact on history may have been his founding of the Crovan dynasty, his patrilineal descendants who ruled in the Isles for almost two centuries. Godred was an important maternal ancestor of Clann Somairle, a family that held power in the Isles centuries after the final extinction of the Crovan dynasty. As such, he may be identical to Gofraid mac Fergusa, an apparent genealogical construct claimed as a Clann Somairle ancestor. Godred may well be identical to the celebrated King Orry of Manx legend, a figure traditionally credited with instituting the Manx legal system. Godred and King Orry are associated with numerous historic and prehistoric sites on Mann and Islay.

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