By his wife, Ragnhild, daughter of Olafr Godredsson, King of the Isles, a member of the Crovan dynasty, Somerled and his descendants claimed the Kingdom of the Isles.A later medieval successor to this kingdom, the Lordship of the Isles, was ruled by Somerled's descendants until the late 15th century.For similar reasons, the aforementioned sources and the Carmen de Morte Sumerledi, a late 12th-century Latin poem by a Scottish cleric who witnessed Somerled's final invasion against the Scots, are partisan accounts slanted against Somerled.

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As noted above, the father of Somerled's nepotes was Malcolm, illegitimate son of Alexander.

As a son of David's elder brother and royal predecessor, this Malcolm represented a lineally senior branch of the Scottish royal house.

Aelred of Rievaulx's Relatio de Standardo reveals that David received English military assistance against Malcolm.

This source specifies that a force against Malcolm was mustered at Carlisle, and notes successful naval campaigns conducted against David's enemies, which suggests that Malcolm's support was indeed centred in Scotland's western coastal periphery.

The History of the Mac Donalds and the Book of Clanranald relate that his immediate ancestors were prominent in Argyll before being unjustly ejected by Scandinavians and Scots.

Although these specific claims concerning his ancestors cannot be corroborated, Somerled's eventual marriage to a daughter of a reigning King of the Isles, and the marriage of one of the former's immediate kinswomen to the son of a King of Scotland, suggests that Somerled belonged to a family of considerable status.

Evidence that Somerled or his father acknowledged David's dominance may exist in the capture of Malcolm itself, as Ailred's Relatio de Standardo indicates that treachery contributed to Malcolm's downfall.

Furthermore, this chronicle reveals that men from the Isles and Lorne or Argyll formed part of the Scottish army at the Battle of the Standard, when David was defeated by the English, near Northallerton in 1138.

Two years later, he defeated and drove Godred from power, and Somerled ruled the entire kingdom until his death.