Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Brian Boru (941–1014) High King of Ireland, 'Imperator Scotorum'

These stamps were issued in 2002 to mark the 1000th anniversary of Brian Boru becoming High King of Ireland. He was killed in the Battle of Clontarf on Good Friday 23 April 1014, in which he is said to have brought to an end the centuries of Viking presence in much of the island of Ireland. This website by Trinity College Dublin says that the title 'Imperator Scotorum' - which was written into a manuscript of the ancient Book of Armagh around AD1005 - means 'Emperor of the Irish'

So 'Scotorum' means 'Irish', not 'Scottish'. Other sources translate 'Scotorum' as 'Gaels'. It has long been known that at least some of Ireland was for centuries called 'Scotia'. Perhaps this is a further evidence of this, reaffirmed by these official state postage stamps of nearly 20 years ago.

The interlinkedness of the two landmasses that we today call Ireland and Scotland (and their respective smaller islands) and the connectedness of the multitudes of peoples who have migrated back and forth and established deep bonds of common ancestry and kinship, is a concrete fact of history. 

PS - it would be over two centuries later, in 1263, when the Scots managed to end Viking dominance of the North Channel, at the Battle of Largs. New alliances formed between Ireland and Scotland, when the ambitious Bruces gathered their allies at Turnberry Castle in Ayrshire to sign the 'Turnberry Band', on 20 September 1286. It was the start of their quest for the crowns, and the two boys present - Robert and Edward - would eventually become Kings of both countries.