The 'other royal family' of the sub-title is first ticed in the seventh century as the Cenel Loairn, one of the principal dynastic kindreds of Dalriada, the embryonic kingdom of the Scots in Argyll. By the end of that century they had displaced the Cenel nGabrain, a kindred descended from the traditional founding dynast Fergus Mor, from over-kingship of Dalriada and clung on to power until the Pictish onslaught of the 730s. While the Cenel Gabrain extended eastward into Pictland as the MacAlpin kings of Alba, the Cenel Loairn moved up the Great Glen to reappear as hereditary mormaers of Moray, effectively kings in the rth who achieved their pinnacle of ascendancy when Macbeth seized the high-kingship of Scots in 1040. His death, and that of his kinsman and successor Lulach, at the hands of Malcolm Canmore signalled the resurgence of the Cenel nGabrain and launched the Cenel Loairn into terminal decline. Yet the house of Lulach still pursued its claim on kingship through a sequence of rebellions against Canmore kings which continued into the second quarter of the thirteenth century. Kings, Mormaers, Rebels traces the story of the Cenel Loairn and its descendent kindreds through more than six hundred years to throw an unfamiliar side-light on the emergence of the medieval kingdom of the Scots.
John Marsden is the author of a number of books on medieval northern history. His Somerled and the emergence of Gaelic Scotland and Galloglas: Hebridean and West Highland Mercenary Warrior Kindreds in Medieval Ireland are published under the John Donald and Tuckwell Press imprints.