The Kingship of the Scots, 842-1292: Succession and Independence

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Edinburgh University Press, 2002 - History - 381 pages
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This is a history of kingship in Scotland from the Dalriadic takeover up to the Great Cause presided over by Edward I of England. During the early years a custom of succession within one royal lineage by brothers and cousins provided some stability in which the Gaelic kingdom grew in authority and extent. By the close of the thirteenth century kings were the main source of patronage and power, and the custom of succession had the force of law. Archie Duncan describes the development of kingship over four and a half critical centuries in which a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual political community was consolidated, despite rival claimants, internal rebellions, and the looming presence of English kingship.The Norman Conquest of England altered the balance of power between north and south, but the relationship between the two kingdoms remained in uneasy balance: some issues, such as the claim of Scottish kings to an English earldom, were resolved; but others remained unresolved andthe cause of occasional friction: these included the Plantagenet claim to overlordship of Scottish kings, and the need of Scottish kings to assert equality by being crowned and anointed. The book ends with a fascinating critique of the record of English intervention when Scotland was kingless after 1286. The author presents a meticulously researched account of how Edward I became overlord of Scotland, and of the debate between Balliol and Bruce, disentangling the facts from the accepted account drawn up by Edward's notary, and showing that records can indeed lie. He ends by looking at how Robert I (Bruce) fixed the succession by law, so that the right to kingship was given by parliament and might be changed by it. Along the way Professor Duncan seeks out the truth behind a number of legends, including the story of Macbeth and Duncan, and suggests a historical evaluation of the inauguration ceremony and of the Stone of Scone. The Kingship of the Scots is historical scholarship at its best - thoughtful, original, challenging. It will certainly arouse debate and may well cause significant revisions in the accepted history of the kingdom.

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About the author (2002)

Yoram Allon is editorial director of Wallflower Press.

Del Cullen is chief editor of Wallflower Press and is a novelist and screenwriter.

Hannah Patterson is project manager of the Critical Guides and a freelance film critic.

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