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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 Development of a Common Law, 1230–90

The Development of a Common Law, 1230–90

(p.266) 5 The Development of a Common Law, 1230–90
The Shape of the State in Medieval Scotland, 1124–1290

Alice Taylor

Oxford University Press

This chapter puts forward a new view of the development of a Scottish common law in the thirteenth century. The type of justice kings offered transformed over the century; royal justice was delegated as a matter of routine to royal officials, who held particular sorts of cases in their own courts. The use of the written word, through a complex range of legal brieves, was key to the functioning of this system. But the developing system of royal justice grew and developed in tandem with the justice of ecclesiastical courts and, particularly, aristocratic courts. Aristocratic courts were key to the functioning of royal justice and the royal chapel developed particular written remedies which allowed for communication between different jurisdictions. This reassessment of the Scottish common law also argues that pleadable brieves were not as important to the workings of royal justice as other, previously neglected, remedies.

Keywords:   common law, pleadable brieves, retourable brieves, medieval Scotland, jurisdiction, Auld Lawes, aristocratic power, charters and palaeography, crime, formularies

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