Geographically, the Isle of Man is part of the British Isles (as is Ireland), and for that reason the Manx consider themselves British (but the Irish don’t, except possibly those in Northern Ireland). Politically, the Isle of Man is not a part of Britain -- it is not a part of the UK. Nor is the Isle of Man a member of the European Union. As a result, the Manx did not get to vote on Brexit.
The odd relationship between the Isle of Man and the UK apparently started in year 1405 when King Henry IV of England gave the Isle to Sir John Stanley, under condition that each successive lord pledge fealty to the English monarch and present each new monarch with two peregrine falcons at coronation. That historically feudal arrangement meant that each successive monarch of England became the Lord of Man (even if the monarch is a female, like Queen Elizabeth II). Although the Isle of Man isn’t owned by the UK, it is subservient to its feudal overlord – the king or queen of England. This may be an oversimplification, but one that explains “crown dependency” rather than UK dependency or UK territory; further, since the UK doesn’t “own” the Isle of Man, the Isle is self-governing with its own parliament.
To make sense of all of this (or at least of some of this), I went to Castletown, the former capital of the Isle of Man to tour Castle Rushen, where all of this started. Castle Rushen bills itself as one of the best preserved medieval castles in Europe (i.e., dating from pre-16th century). The castle was designed to defend the isle from marauders like the French or Spanish who would have liked nothing better than to wrest the isle away from a supporter of the English king and use it themselves as a base from which to attack England. So the English king helped defend the castle, setting the precedent that the English king will defend the Isle of Man -- and he did, at least until the English civil war, when the parliamentarians under Cromwell seized the castle.
|Replica of Lord's dinner|
|Historic Lords of Man|
|Historic House of Keys|
The next few hundred years get fuzzy, but I suppose it would have been hard for Cromwell’s parliamentarians and the Tynwald parliamentarians to disagree publicly, so life went on. In 1932, the Isle of Man parliament adopted as the isle's official coat of arms a depiction of three armored legs flared like a pinwheel. The image has its source in Nordic heraldry centuries old, and was accompanied by a Manx motto, a very loose translation of which is “Whichever way you throw me I will stand.” Nobody in England apparently objected, so there you have it – a self-governing crown dependency.
|Isle of Man flag|