State and Society in Early Modern Scotland

By Julian Goodare | Go to book overview

8 The Borders and Highlands

Oure soverane lord and his thrie estatis convenit in this present parliament, considering the vicked inclinatioun of the disorderit subjectis, inhabitantis on sum pairtis of the Bordoures foiranent England, and in the Hielandis and Ilis, delyting in all mischeiffis, and maist unnaturallie and cruel- lie waistand, slayand, heryand, and distroyand thair awin nychtbouris and native cuntrie people, takand occasioun of the leist truble that may occur in the inner pairtis of the realme, quhen thai think that cair and thocht of the repressing of thair insolence is onywayes foryett, to renew thair maist barbarous cruelties and godles oppressionis: ffor remeid thairof...1

Scottish policy-makers left the world in no doubt that they regarded the Borders and Highlands as a problem. The preamble to this statute (of 1587) made it clear what they thought the problem was, which helps us understand the 'remeid' they provided. The problem was the local people. They were wicked (which in a lapsarian world one might consider irremediable), godless (which might be ameliorated by establishing a preaching ministry), barbarous (here the likely solution was educational), and 'disorderit'--for which the answer was to make them feel the heavy hand of the state. This chapter, like the statute itself, will concentrate on this last aspect of the problem.

Older histories usually suggest that the problem ('lawlessness') was the same in both regions, and with government statements like this one, it is easy to see why. Not only does the statute make it clear that the state's idea of 'order' differed more radically from that of the local people than it did in the heartlands of the state; it also indicates a common approach to the two regions by that state--an approach dictated by the interests of the 'inner pairtis

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1
APS iii. 461, c. 59.

-254-

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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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