State and Society in Early Modern Scotland

By Julian Goodare | Go to book overview

7 Territory

The kingdomes being firmelie knit together, and one government setled, in tract of time it is to be hoped that all the inhabitants of this empire will be fashioned to the same manners, lawes and language.1

A recurring theme of this book so far has been the increasing unity and integration of the early modern state, moulded by a developing central authority. But there is more than one way to look at this. What did central authority mean on Rathlin Island? This small island in the North Channel, now part of Ireland, had always had connections with the Irish mainland, but until the seventeenth century it was also part of the old lordship of the Isles, which was subject to the Scottish crown if to any at all. It was valued for old extent, the Scottish tax assessment. The anomaly remained largely unnoticed. In 1549 it was described as 'perteining to Irland', but the English in the 1560s were discussing the need 'to take away the Isle of the Raghlins from the Scots' (meaning the MacDonald clan, not the Edinburgh authorities). A celebrated court case had to be heard in 1617 to decide which kingdom Rathlin belonged to.2 Neither ' Scotland' nor ' Ireland' can have meant much to the people of Rathlin before then. How seriously can one take the authority of a state which had so little impact in its remoter regions that its very existence was barely noticed by the inhabitants?

The sovereign state is a territorial state; it claims authority over all the inhabitants of a given territory. The stronger the sovereign authority, the more precise the unity and definition of the

____________________
1
Robert Pont, "'Of the union of Britayne"', Jacobean Union, 23.
2
W. F. Skene, Celtic Scotland, 3 vols. ( 2nd edn., Edinburgh, 1886-90), iii, p. 439 and app. 3 (it is doubtful whether taxes were ever paid, however); Monro Western Isles of Scotland and Genealogies of the Clans, 1549, ed. R. W. Munro ( Edinburgh, 1961), 49; W. Clark, Rathlin: Its Island Story ( 2nd edn., Limavady, 1988), 85, 111-17.

-214-

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State and Society in Early Modern Scotland
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS vii
  • Contents ix
  • CONVENTIONS AND ABBREVIATIONS xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Sovereignty 11
  • 2 - The Roots of Authority 38
  • 3 - The Absolutist State 66
  • 4 - Finance 102
  • Warfare 133
  • 6 - Religion 172
  • 7 - Territory 214
  • 8 - The Borders and Highlands 254
  • 9 - State Power 286
  • Perspectives on State Formation 312
  • SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY 343
  • Index 359
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