This chapter examines the styles of government, and particularly about different ways in which laws could be enforced, in Scotland during the 16th and 17th centuries. Not all laws were expected to be enforced in full, and a typology of law enforcement patterns is given. There is also a critique of conventional accounts of central and local power, arguing that centralisation was not experienced by the localities as an external force; it occurred in the localities. First, the chapter explains what the enforcement or implementation of law actually meant. It then discusses what is meant by ‘executive powers’, how government was carried out in the localities, whether law was always enforced in the sense of making people do what they did not want to do. Many governmental commands do not seem to have been fully obeyed; hence, the question is whether this should make us sceptical about the power of government, or we should look more carefully at what government was trying to achieve when it issued the commands.
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