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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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A Bureaucratic Government?

A Bureaucratic Government?

(p.399) 7 A Bureaucratic Government?
The Shape of the State in Medieval Scotland, 1124–1290

Alice Taylor

Oxford University Press

This chapter brings together two elements key to conceptualizations of bureaucracies: personnel and paperwork (or, in this case, parchment). It shows how enrolment and recordkeeping practices cannot solely be explained by the expansion of governmental activity: the royal archive was not only the footprint of a government increasingly relying on the written word, it was also a more personal repository for safeguarding the rights and privileges of kings and other parties. The second half of the chapter examines the people who held the office of sheriff in the 1263–66 account roll. It shows that most sheriffs were of regnal importance, appearing at the king’s court, and discharging other offices within government. This chapter therefore confirms the importance of aristocratic power to the mechanisms of royal government, questions the extent of its bureaucratization, and shows, through another avenue, the importance of the sheriffdom to the functioning of government.

Keywords:   bureaucracy, office-holding, enrolment, archiving, recordkeeping, government, sheriffs, prosopography, courts, charters and diplomatic

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