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Mormaer , also mormaor , is a Scottish expression and referred to a regional provincial ruler in early medieval Scotland from the 10th century . The original meaning can best be described as "large landowner", "bailiff" or "administrator". There were about twelve to fifteen Morma bodies in Scotland; originally a Mormaer was directly subordinate to the Scottish king, but this did not correspond to reality everywhere.

In Middle Latin , a Mormaer was translated as comes or occasionally dux . Around 1200 the name changed, on documents the word “mormaer” was replaced by “earllis”; the title changed to the equivalent of an English earl ( count ).


The name Mormaer comes from the Old Gaelic language, so this form probably also existed in Ireland. So a Mormaer came there directly after the Hochkönig. They were the princes of the so-called “mor- tuath ”, which corresponds to a province but originally meant an ethnic group or a tribal area. They were subordinate to the “ thanes ” or “toisech”, who in turn were the leaders of the individual “tuath”, “tribes” (tribes) or “fines of lands” (a former territorial designation), i.e. the individual clans of the province. The inheritance of the title mostly took place within the family, but a successor could also be determined during his lifetime. The Encyclopædia Britannica describes Mormaer as a Celtic title that came from the Picts . There it is derived from Gaelic mor ('large') and maer or maor ( English steward or bailiff 'manager'). It designates one of the rulers of the seven Scottish provinces into which the area north of the rivers Forth and Clyde was divided. The originally Celtic title was translated by the Scandinavians to Jarl and later in the 12th century under Anglo-Norman influence to Earl . The seven counties of Scotland were Angus, Atholl (with Gowrie), Caithness (with Sutherland), Fife, Mar (with Buchan), Moray (with Ross) and Strath Earn (with Menteith). Another derivation is Mormaer as sea ruler ( English sea ​​steward ) and derives this from Maer as "sea". There may be analogies to Carolingian titles such as Marquis or Margrave ( margrave ), which indicate the function of border protection, so that a Mormaer may originally have been responsible for protecting the coastline against intruders from Scandinavia.




Individual evidence

  1. Alexander Macbain: The chiefship of Clan Chattan. A lecture delivered to the Inverness Field Club, in November, 1895 . Glasgow 1896 ( Text Archive - Internet Archive ).
  2. ^ Mormaer - Celtic title. In: Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved June 24, 2019 .
  3. John Ashton Cannon, Robert Crowcroft: mormaers . In: The Oxford Companion to British History . 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press, 2015, ISBN 978-0-19-967783-2 , pp. 634 ( - excerpt).