A prosopographical analysis of society in East Central Scotland, circa 1100 to 1260, with special reference to ethnicity
This thesis seeks to examine the Europeanizing themes of the spread of charters, the adoption of common European names and the interaction of the chivalric ‘aristocratic diaspora’ with local landholding society through the methodology of prosopography. The role of aristocratic landholders as grantor, witnesses and recipients of charters was studied, based on an analysis of the texts of over 1500 aristocratic, royal and ecclesiastical documents relating to Scotland north of Forth, dating from circa 1100 to circa 1260. The Appendix is a list of all non-royal, non-ecclesiastical (or ‘private’) charters, agreements, brieves and similar documents, catalogued herein for the first time. The results of this study are two-fold. First, the thesis involves a degree of reappraisal, in which phenomena which were seen previously as pertaining to either ‘native’ or ‘Norman’ trends are instead examined as part of a single Scottish society. Second, this thesis offers several new findings based on the prosopographical analysis of the charter material, which help to hone our understanding for how Europeanization worked in Scotland. It is now clear that, while the adoption of charters should certainly be seen as a Europeanizing trend, their use by aristocratic landholders followed several stages, none of which adhered to any ethnic bias. This study reveals the prominence of networks in spreading charter use, including one focused around Countess Ada and other related countesses, in the early stages of aristocratic charter use. Furthermore, the important component of Europeanization, whereby ‘peripheral’ peoples took up common European personal names, can be qualified in the case of Scotland north of Forth, where the society was already characterised by a diverse intermixing of Gaelic, Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon names, and where certain Gaelic names were not only maintained by ‘native’ families, but also adopted by immigrant knights. This thesis shows that the practice of using personal names as evidence for ethnicity does not hold up to close scrutiny. Moreover, the aristocratic diaspora for Scottish earls was a two-way street, and some earls and other Scottish nobles married into some of the most powerful families in western Europe. On the other hand, immigration of knights into Scotland north of Forth resulted in the creation of a new baronial class, one which also incorporated various types of ‘native’ Scottish landholder. Indeed, even in regions like the Mearns, where the king had a free hand, landholding was balanced between local and immigrant families. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, this study has verified that the notion that Scotland had ‘no institutionalised apartheid’ was not merely a legal technicality, but a fundamental characteristic of the society. Landholding patterns reveal no evidence of ethnic separation; neither does analysis of assemblies, courts, civil legal proceedings and processes of perambulation. Instead, power was exercised by a diverse aristocratic class. The nature of Europeanization in Scotland is distinct and special, and serves as a fascinating case study of an aristocratic society that was transformed, but in some ways on its own terms.