Medieval Scotland

Medieval Scotland

Medieval Scotland

Medieval Scotland

Synopsis

This is a one-volume history of medieval Scotland, concentrating on the period between the middle of the eleventh century and the Reformation and taking full account of recent scholarship. It is primarily a political and ecclesiastical study, analysing the development of the institutions of the Scottish state, conflict and co-operation between the crown and the nobility, relations with external powers, the history of the church in Scotland, and the formation of a distinctive Scottish identity. The Wars of Independence are examined in their historical context, and elements of identity and change are identified across the whole period. Particular emphasis is placed upon relations between core and periphery in medieval Scotland and on the difficulties experienced by the crown in imposing royal authority in the north and west.

Excerpt

Writers of textbooks are faced with many challenges, not least that of deciding which aspects of their topic should be included and which left on the sidelines. In the case of a volume on medieval Scotland which aims to cover several centuries, it is inevitable that large areas of scholarly activity will be bypassed in an attempt to retain the length of the book within reasonable bounds. My approach to the subject has been a traditional one, and I have concentrated on political and ecclesiastical history rather than on the economy and society, although I have endeavoured to retain an awareness of the effect of social and economic changes on the people of Scotland. Despite the paucity of Scottish sources, scholars have increasingly found it possible to investigate the lives of those below the political elite, and have thereby immeasurably enriched our view of medieval life, but it was impossible to do their work full justice in this volume. Other areas, including relations with Scandinavia, Germany and the Low Countries, the development of Scots law, and the flowering of Scottish literature, have also been given less attention than they deserve. Political history, however, provides one of the most accessible approaches to the past and to the lessons that we can learn from it. If we are to discover the origins and nature of Scottish identity, we must strive to understand the development of the institutions of the state, the relations between the crown and the nobility, the distinctive features of ecclesiastical life in Scotland, and the significance of the Wars of Independence.

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