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Title: Comites, curiales, and kings : the role of Earls in the Scottish Royal Court, 1153-1249
Author: Crawford, Alexander F.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 529X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis establishes what the enumerative evidence of royal charters can confirm about the role played by earls in the Scottish royal court from 1153 to 1249, and how this role was perceived by contemporaries. Considered as a whole, and across the entire period under study, earls were infrequent and irregular figures at the royal court. This was the case even when the court was in close proximity to their respective earldoms. When and where most earls did make an appearance, it was to attest acts in which they had proprietorial interests, to endorse solemn royal documents, or during an assembly. Scottish kings of this period were most concerned that earls expended their energies in the government of their earldoms. The chief function of earls at the royal court was to underline the significance of only the most solemn of royal documents and the splendor of important occasions. Nevertheless, there were some courtier earls whose attestations did not follow the patterns exhibited by their peers. Across the period under examination, a small minority of earls attested royal acts with sufficient frequency to show that they spent a majority of their time in the king's presence. These earls acted not so much in accordance with their seigniorial role, but rather based on their strong social attachments to the reigning monarch and with other members of court society. From 1153 to around 1200, these courtier earls were invariably the earls of the most prominent earldoms (Fife, Dunbar, and Strathearn). During this period Scottish kings made courtiers of their greatest magnates. However, concurrent with a wider recomposition of the noble group which frequented the royal court, there was a dramatic shift to the comital group which regularly attended Scottish kings. From about 1200 to 1249, the chief comital courtiers were earls who had acquired their earldoms on the strength of royal attachments rather than through inheritance. These men were courtiers who had been made magnates. In this shift is reflected a broader shift in the royal court during this time; a shift whereby the royal court grew more courtier-oriented, and Scottish kings interacted increasingly with the elite lay and clerical figures who were drawn from their own inner-circles.
Supervisor: MacDonald, Alistair ; Armstrong, Jackson Webster Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Courts ; Nobility