Patterns of kinship and clanship : the Mackintoshes and Clan Chattan, 1291 to 1609
Highland history of the middle ages continues to be regarded generally as separate from the history of the Lowlands, as well as the political history of Scotland. To a large extent, the perception of two distinct societies within Scotland during this period has been swept aside, but few moves have been made to integrate fully the history of clanship into that of Scotland as a whole. This case study of the Mackintoshes and Clan Chattan seeks to examine clanship from a sociological as well as a historical perspective. Kinship was a fundamental characteristic of clan society, but these relationships were not limited to blood relatives. The creation of Active kinship through ties of customary obligation within a clan reinforced clan solidarity and cohesion, a vital factor for the geographically disparate Clan Chattan confederation. Within the locality, Active kinship was established by the contraction of more formal alliances which had social, political and economic objectives. The creation of these relationships enabled the clan to survive and expand. For central Highland clans like the Mackintoshes and Clan Chattan who lived in close geographic proximity to Lowland society, the extension of fictive kinship facilitated easy assimilation across the perceived divide in Scottish society. The realisation on the part of clan chiefs that cordial relations with the crown would be beneficial to the clan as a whole saw a movement throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries towards closer integration with Lowland society. This examination of clanship places the history of the Highlands into a wider political and social context. While clanship was a unique phenomenon within Scotland, it should not be examined in isolation, but rather as an integral part of Scottish political life.