A Kingdom in Perplexity

G.W.S. Barrow

in Robert Bruce

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780748620227
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672189 | DOI:
A Kingdom in Perplexity

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This chapter considers the effects of the death of Alexander III 18 March 1286 on the Scottish kingdom. It provides an overview of the main features of Scotland and its people in the later thirteenth century, rejecting the traditional view of Scotland as a ‘Celtic’ country and instead stressing its mixture of ethnic origins; even so. Celtic traditions had an important part to play in defining aspects of Scottish identity. Scotland's inhabitants spoke a mixture of languages, though by the end of the thirteenth century Gaelic was on the wane on the eastern Scottish seaboard north of the Forth, and north sea trade helped Scotland to build up a wide range of international contacts. The landowning classes, linked across apparent ethnic divides by intermarriage over generations, had a strong political interest in overseeing the succession to the throne and appointed representatives (the ‘Guardians’) to rule the country.

Keywords: Alexander III; Languages; Gaelic; English; North Sea trade; Guardians

Chapter.  8848 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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