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Violence, Legal Culture and Social Control: The Records of Scotland’s Justiciary Court, 1493–1558

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dc.contributor.advisor Ewan, Elizabeth
dc.contributor.advisor Fraser, James E Larsson, Chelsea 2021-11-02T19:57:07Z 2021-11-02T19:57:07Z 2021-11 2021-10-15
dc.description.abstract This dissertation investigates the prosecution of lethal and near-lethal violence in Scotland’s highest central criminal jurisdiction—the justiciary court—during the first half of the sixteenth century. It uses trial entries preserved in the court books to demonstrate that the 1530s and 1540s were important decades that saw dynamic changes in legal and administrative practices. Moreover, it shows how useful these records are as sources of information about the court’s role in social control and conflict resolution during this period. The study uses an original relational database to quantify and cross-reference data contained in the manuscript records of the justiciary records, often overlooked in favour of the more approachable edited versions. The results of this analysis reveal several important findings that question, confirm and enhance existing arguments about law, society and administration in premodern Scotland. The language used to describe violent offences reveals that whether an act of violence was interpreted as a legitimate or illegitimate use of force depended heavily on context, brutality and premeditation. This language entered the record in ever more formalised and structured ways that point to changes in the nature and apparent purpose of the justiciary court records, as well as to the bureaucratic acumen of the men who created them. However, rather than functioning as an impartial arbiter of the law, the justiciary court played several roles: a theatre in which plaintiffs, officials and the crown negotiated acceptable uses of force; a stage upon which the crown could be seen dispensing mercy and justice; and a source of revenue to fill royal coffers in constant need of replenishing throughout the sixteenth century. Underlying these negotiations and displays were contemporary attitudes about how the relationship between status, gender, honour and violence contributed to whether an offender was perceived as upholding or undermining the patriarchal hierarchy that ordered society in this period. Taken together, the arguments put forth in the dissertation demonstrate the extent to which this superior criminal jurisdiction served as a site at which plaintiffs, defendants and representatives of the crown interacted to define and redefine the line between violence and violation. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; St Andrews Society of Montréal; Scottish Studies Foundation; College of Arts (Guelph); Centre for Scottish Studies (Guelph) en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher University of Guelph en
dc.subject Scotland en_US
dc.subject medieval en_US
dc.subject early modern en_US
dc.subject justiciary court records en_US
dc.subject Scots law en_US
dc.subject criminal law en_US
dc.subject violence en_US
dc.subject homicide en_US
dc.subject forethocht felony en_US
dc.subject assault en_US
dc.subject social control en_US
dc.subject conflict resolution en_US
dc.subject bureaucracy en_US
dc.subject legal profession en_US
dc.subject recordkeeping practices en_US
dc.subject gender en_US
dc.subject honour en_US
dc.subject bloodfeud en_US
dc.title Violence, Legal Culture and Social Control: The Records of Scotland’s Justiciary Court, 1493–1558 en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US History en_US Doctor of Philosophy en_US Department of History en_US
dc.rights.license All items in the Atrium are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated. University of Guelph en

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