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The Shape of the State in Medieval Scotland, 1124–1290$
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Alice Taylor

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198749202

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198749202.001.0001

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The Institutions of Royal Government, c.1170–1290

The Institutions of Royal Government, c.1170–1290

(p.191) 4 The Institutions of Royal Government, c.1170–1290
The Shape of the State in Medieval Scotland, 1124–1290

Alice Taylor

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines three offices fundamental to the workings of royal government: the sheriff, the justiciar, and the chamberlain. It argues that all three underwent significant changes throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but the key period of change for all was the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, under kings William and Alexander II, not under David I, as has often been thought. Mid-twelfth-century royal government thus looks very different from mid-thirteenth-century royal government. The key conclusion of this chapter is that the fundamental unit of royal government was the sheriffdom; it was through the sheriffdom that justiciars and chamberlains discharged their responsibilities. The development of ‘central’ governmental institutions was thus a localized phenomenon and required the co-option of major aristocrats into royal service.

Keywords:   law, government, administration, finance, justice, accounting, charter diplomatic, state formation, sheriff, justiciar, chamberlain

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