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Argyllshire – The rise of Highland kings

Overview

An historic county, located in Western Scotland, Argyllshire also carried the name of Earraghaidheal, which means the Coastland of the Gael. When using its name for historic references, it may stand for the entire area that lies between the Mull of Kintyre, and Cape Wrath. The most important town of the historic county, Inveraray, has been the seat of Duke of Argyll, and it was also chosen to be the county town.

Short history

The earliest proofs of Scots’ existence on the lands of Argyllshire date from the 3rd century, when human settlements were installed, after the invading of the region by Scots speaking Gaelic, the century prior. Argyllshire was just one the regions that later on, during the 9th century, was joined with the regions from northeast, dominated by the Picts, in order to form Scotland.

Also, during the 6th century, Celtic Irish missionaries spread the word of Gospel while visiting these lands.

Argyllshire history was shook by Norsemen invaders that seized the lands and made them theirs until 1266, when the shire returned to Scotland. Not only Norsemen, but also Celts, overran these regions, and proofs of their existence can still be found in the form of archeological evidence. This period also coincides with the rise of the Lords of the Western Isles, that were finally defeated for good by King James IV. It was the end for these lords, whose lands were seized by the victors. They were replaced by new chiefs of the land, known as Earls of Argyll.

Protestantism gained much terrain during the 16th century, when an earl of Argyll was considered to be one of the most important supporters of this religion in Scotland.

The battles of the 18th century will find the people living in Argyllshire fighting for George II, and against the Stuart representative. With their victory, the Highland lords and chiefs of the lands became kings with powers over their followers and tenants. This also meant a new evaluation of the relationship between tenants and the new kings. In order to obtain a bigger profit, the rulers evicted the tenants from their lands and farms, and replaced their homes with larger farms meant for the breeding of sheep. As a result, a large number of the people that struggled for existence, while working the soil of Argyllshire, chose the path of emigration, and traveled, along with their families, to new continents, like America and Australia. The profitable sheep farming did not last long, though, and soon the lands were marked by poverty, again.

As far as the religious feud was concerned, episcopalianism and presbyterianism fought for a long time, but ended with the victory of the second, still considered prominent in Argyllshire.