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Title: Bonds of manrent in Scotland before 1603
Author: Brown, Jennifer M.
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 1974
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Bonds of manrent were familiar and commonplace documents in late-fifteenth and sixteenth century Scottish society. They recorded the obligation of allegiance and service by men to their lords, obligations entered into, with few exceptions, for life, or passed on to their heirs. Some bonds described the obligation in very general terms; most gave a detailed account of what it involved, the main promises being to accompany the lord, to help and support him in all his actions and disputes, to give him counsel when he asked it and keep secret any counsel which he offered, and to warn him of harm and prevent it as for as possible. The making of these bonds was restricted almost entirely to men of power and wealth, the magnates and the lairds; and they brought under the obligation not only the individual but his kin, his friends and his followers. There are some 700 bonds still surviving, the primary source for this thesis, and these are listed in Appendix A. Their name, 'manrent', was the middle Scots form of a rare Anglo-Saxon word 'mannraedan', later 'manred', meaning allegiance or dependences literally, the state of being a man to a lord. The word was therefore etymologically the same as 'homage'; and it was the oath of homage, which by the fifteenth century had lost its binding force and was little used, that manrent replaced. The development of the lord-man relationship from the feudal to the non feudal form, culminating in the widespread use of the bond of manrent after c.1440, is the main theme of the first part of this thesis. There were features of the bonds which would have been familiar in the period of the feudal contract, but there were also changes of emphasis. The main change was that while bonds were sometimes given for land or money, the personal nature of the contract, which to an extont had been lost sight of, was once again paramount. Man no longer gave services primarily for material reward; they gave it for good lordship and protection, and at they normally received in return was a bond of maintenance. The second part of this thesis discusses the reasons why bonds were made and the effect they had. Their main importance lay not in national events but in local affairs. They were used by the magnates to bring under their control men of influence in the localities; for the lairds they offered the advantage of protection against attack, or redress possessions. The forming of large affinities dependent on a magnate whose power was thereby increased has traditionally been regarded as a principal factor in creating disorder and lawlessness in late-Mediaeval Scotland. But it is not axiomatic that the use of magnete power in Scotland was always sinister. On the contrary, one important element in the making of bonds was their place in maintaining law and order. It is clear that there was a strong survival of justice outrith the courts, based on the obligations of kinship; and the bond, as a means of imposing on those who were not of the lord's kin-group the same obligations which bound those who were, had an important place in settling dispute rather than creating it. In general, the nature of Scottish society was such that, while there wars abuses in the practice of bonding,, there was far more that was of positive benefit. And the crown itself, so often regarded as having feared and disliked the making of personal alliances,, in fact saw the advantages of these alliances and encouraged them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DA Great Britain