Full text: Grenzen und Grenzregionen

Norwegian kingdom until 1468-9.69 Although the water frontier was truly 
international it seems to have been much less sharply defined than the Border and 
it was certainly never policed. The people of the west highlands and the isles came 
and went freely regardless of nominal Norwegian or, it has to be said, often 
nominal Scottish royal overlordship. The great nobles of the region, many of 
whom used the standard Gaelic style of righ, 'king', ruled over extensive lordships 
whose boundaries ignored the technical divide between a mainland in the kingdom 
of Scotland and islands in that of Norway70. The treaty of Perth (1266) did little 
more than formalize an already established situation, although it was important for 
the Scots monarchy that the great men of the west - MacDougalls, MacRorys, 
MacDonalds and so on - were thenceforward their liege subjects71. In the far 
north, the stormy waters of the Pentland Firth which separate the islands of 
Orkney from the Scottish mainland probably presented more serious problems of 
weather and navigation than of politics. For at least a century before the Northern 
Isles were pledged to Scotland in the reign of James III Scots had been settling in 
Orkney, perhaps also in Shetland. By the end of the fourteenth century the earl of 
Orkney was a Scot, and by 1461 there had been several Scottish bishops of 
Orkney72. 
One final and rather elusive 'border' in medieval Scotland may be mentioned. This 
was a cultural frontier which to some extent was connected with the advance and 
expansion of English speech - which confusingly came in the sixteenth century to 
be called 'Scots' - and the retreat of historically 'Scottish', i.e. Gaelic, speech73. 
Military feudalism, often called 'Anglo-Norman' or even simply 'Norman', came 
into Scotland from the early decades of the twelfth century with the active 
encouragement of the royal house - especially of David I and his three grandsons 
Malcolm IV, William the Lion and David earl of Huntingdon, whose reigns or 
active careers spanned over a century from 1113 to 12 1 974. An immediate result of 
this feudalism was the allocation of large lordships to major feudatories almost all 
with a continental or English or mixed background. They in turn subinfeudated to 
their dependants, creating many scores or hundreds of 'knights' fees'. These tended 
to be provided with fortified residences of the 'motte and bailey type', though we 
must note that in Scotland the bailey is often absent, and we have only a 'motte' 
69 Duncan, A.A.M. and Brown, A.L., "Argyll and the Isles in the early Middle Ages", in: Proceedings of 
the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 90 (1956-7), 192-220; Barrow, G.W.S., Kingship and Unity: 
Scotland 1000-1306 (2nd edn., Edinburgh, 1989), 105-121. 
70 Ibid. 
71 This appears clearly in the period of die first War of Independence (1296-1328), for which see generally 
Barrow, G.W.S., Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland. 
72 Crawford, B.E., "The pawning of Orkney and Shetland: a re-consideration of the events of 1460-9", in: 
Scottish Historical Review 48 (1969), 35-53. 
73 See map no. 74 in: McNeill and Nicholson, .4/7 Historical Atlas of Scotland C.400-C.1600. 
74 Barrow, G.W.S., The Anglo-Norman Era in Scottish History (Oxford, 1980). 
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