Law, Lordship and Tenure: The Fall of the Black Douglases

Hector MacQueen, Alan Borthwick

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract / Description of output

This book is a new interpretation of the fall of later medieval Scotland’s greatest noble family, the Black Douglases, in 1455. The discussion reaches back in time to over a century before, as the family began its rise to the pinnacle of Scottish society. The killing of William eighth earl of Douglas by King James II in 1452 receives particular attention, as also the way in which he, his brother James (his successor as earl), and their predecessors exercised their power and authority as earls and lords, and it is suggested that their identifiable failings in this provide the key to understanding the catastrophe that befell the family in 1455. The principal analytical tool is the law relevant to these events and the specific meaning and significance of the documents (which is often a legal question) that evidence them. It is argued that this form of analysis is at least as relevant as any more political approach and that ‘legal consciousness’ was a vital feature of Scottish noble society.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSt Andrews
PublisherStrathmartine Press, St Andrews
Number of pages262
ISBN (Print)9780995544123
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2022


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  • The laws of Galloway revisited

    MacQueen, H., 8 Sept 2022, Galloway: The Lost Province of Gaelic Scotland. Black, R., Ansell, M. & Cowan, E. J. (eds.). 1st ed. Edinburgh: John Dewar, p. 61-75 15 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

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