Rethinking the Justice of the Feud in Sixteenth-Century Scotland

A. Mark Godfrey

in Kings, Lords and Men in Scotland and Britain, 1300–1625

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2014 | ISBN: 9780748691500
Published online September 2015 | e-ISBN: 9781474400848 | DOI:
Rethinking the Justice of the Feud in Sixteenth-Century Scotland

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This chapter critically examines existing interpretations of development of central authority and state institutions in Scotland, suggesting an alternative approach in which the administration of justice is placed within the wider context of dispute resolution with regard to civil as well as criminal jurisdiction. It examines the relationships between methods of dispute resolution such as feud, informal settlement mechanisms such as arbitration, formal litigation and other means of resolving disputes in sixteenth-century Scotland. It argues that private justice had never operated entirely separately from public justice and without regard to property rights and wrongs as defined by the legal order. The development of central jurisdiction and legal process by the early sixteenth century created a culture of vindication of rights which undermined feud as a method of dispute resolution. The decline of the bloodfeud was a consequence and not a cause of the rise of central justice to a much greater extent than previously realised.

Keywords: justice; arbitration; law; crime; litigation

Chapter.  8826 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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