The Isle of Man, or Mann, is a self-governing Crown dependency, located in the Irish Sea at the geographical center of the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Crown is represented by a Lieutenant Governor. The island is not part of the United Kingdom, but foreign relations, defense, and ultimate good-governance of the Isle of Man are the responsibility of the government of the United Kingdom.
The island became a Celtic-Norse community in 979. This has left a legacy ranging from the Tynwald parliament to many local place names. After a period of alternating rule by the kings of England and Scotland, the Manx came under the feudal over-lordship of the English Crown. The lordship revested to the British Crown in 1764 but the island never became part of the United Kingdom and retained its status as an internally self-governing jurisdiction.
The origin of the name Isle of Man is unclear. In the Manx Gaelic language the Isle of Man is known as Ellan Vannin, where ellan is a Gaelic word meaning 'island'. The earliest form of 'Man' is Manu or Mana giving the genitive name Manann leading to the word Mannin, to which a 'h' is added when used after the feminine word Ellan, giving Mhannin. As 'mh' is pronounced like a 'v' in Goidelic languages, in modern Manx the name becomes Ellan Vannin. Mannin is the genitive of Mannan, an alternate form of the name of the mythical Manannán mac Lir.
During the period of Julius Caesar as proconsul and his visit to Britain during 55 and 54 BC Caesar referred to the Isle of Man in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico to 'an island called Mona which lies midway across the sea separating Britain from Ireland.'
For centuries, the island's symbol has been its ancient triskelion, a device similar to Sicily's Trinacria: three bent legs, each with a spur, joined at the thigh. The Manx triskelion does not appear to have an official definition; government publications, currency, flags, the tourist authority and others all use different variants. Most, but not all, preserve rotational symmetry, some running clockwise, others anti-clockwise. Some have the uppermost thigh at 12:00, others at 11:30 or 10:00, etc. Some have the knee bent at 90°, some at 60°, some at closer to 120°. Also the degree of ornamentation of the leg wear and spur vary considerably.
The three legs relate directly to the island's motto (adopted late in the symbol's history): Quocunque Jeceris Stabit, traditionally translated from Latin as 'Whithersoever you throw it, it will stand', or 'Whichever way you throw it, it will stand'.
The origin of the 'Three Legs of Man' (as they are usually called) is explained in the Manx legend that Manannan repelled an invasion by transforming into the three legs and rolling down the hill and defeating the invaders.