At 11:09 PM -0400 4/10/99, EoganOg@...
>Balliol won out over Bruce the Competior becuase of a more direct line of
>Royal descent under fuedal law, plain and simple (please note that "fuedal
>law" was still, at this time, a relatively new concept in Scottish Royal
>successions. Under the older Gaelic system, it was done quite differently,
>which I'm sure someone on this list could explain better than I can (although
>I can try). BTW if you are that someone, please consider this an invitation.
I must urge caution when describing anything as "feudal". I won't go into
the feudalism controversy here (except to say I highly recommend Susan
Reynold's books "Fiefs and Vassals" to those who would like to learn more
about why many historians, including myself, are arguing against using the
modern construct of "feudalism"/"the feudal system" to define the Middle
Ages) but I will mention that no particular theory/law of inheritance (for
any lands, let alone kingdoms) is inevitible just because of the existence
of feus and/or feudal land tenure (especially considering that the workings
of feudal land tenure was different just about everywhere there was
anything that could be called feudal land tenure). There were many and
complex probable reasons why Balliol was chosen over Bruce and the
straightforward application of any principals of law was unlikely to be
among the formost. Further, if the standard Scottish laws of land
inheritance of the time had been followed in the Great Cause, Balliol would
not have been made king of the whole of Scotland but rather would have been
awarded the title King of Scots and the kingdom divided up among the heirs
of the daughters of David, Earl of Huntingdon (grandson of King David I)
through whom both Bruce and Balliol were descended. (In Scottish land law
of the time, if a person had no sons, their daughters equally divided the
estate, with the eldest daughter inheriting the title, if any.) Indeed, at
one stage Bruce (the competitor) argued for this result.
What prevailed was treating a kingdom as unpartiable and male primogeniture
with inheritance permitted through female primogeniture in generations
where sons failed -- and male primogeniture had essentially been the custom
in Scotland since 1097 -- in other words, for nearly 200 years by the time
of the Great Cause in 1290-2. (Although the inheritance permitted through
women had not been an issue and perhaps thus not even a concept for much
that time. But that women could inherit was clearly established with the
Maid of Norway in 1286.)
>Regardless, Balliol's regin was but short, and he did very little to secure
>Scotland'd independance. From the documents we have, he seemed to be willing
>to make certain concessions to Edward, but later when he tried to exert any
>measure of independance, simply could not stand up to Edward's intimidating
>use of fuedal law.
The problem was not any use of "feudal law", the problem was Edward I of
England trying to actually act (in ways unacceptable to enough of the Scots
who counted) on his claim of overlordship -- a claim (alternately accepted
and denied by past Scottish kings) that went back centuries and thus long
predates any (credible) modern historian's claim for when feudal anything
came to Scotland.
Scotland did not go to war because Edward I was a mean cruel guy who
persecuted the poor Scots. They initially went to war (when John Balliol
was still king) because Edward insisted on hearing appeals of Scottish
court cases in England and because the Scottish nobles feared they'd be
drafted to fight in Edward's foreign wars.** And when William Wallace rose
up after Ballioll abdicated, and when he governed as Guardian of Scotland,
he did so in the name of King John Balliol. What motivated Wallace and the
others after the removal of Balliol? It's hard to know for sure, but it
does not seem to have been because of any unusually cruel treatment of the
Scots by Edward I -- Edward's harshness seems to have been prompted by the
Scots' traitorous rebellion (as he saw it), rather than the rebellion being
prompted by Edward's harshness.
>For transcripts of said documents (along with translations), see Stones, E.
>L. G., ed., _Anglo-Scottish Relations, 1174-1328; Some Selected Documents_.
>Translated by E. L. G. Stone. 1965; reprint ed.; Oxford: Clarendon Press,
I do recommend this book for those who want to get a flavour of what
sources historians are working from, but I suggest reading G.W.S. Barrow's
"Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland" for actually
getting to grips with the events of the time (beyond what can be gained
from reading a good general Scottish medieval history book).
>Balliol was stripped of his title in a fairly humiliating proceedure, and
>some time passed from when Edward tore off the Royal Arms from King John's
>surcoat, assuming the title himself, and when Bruce the Competitor's
>grandson, Robert the Bruce, was crowned King Robert in 1306. However, it
>owuld not surprise me to find out that there were those, even at the height
>of Robert's success and strength, than favoured a King from the Balliol line.
> Who would have been the next chosen in that line after John? Anyone know
>more about this?
His son, Edward Balliol, who indeed did try to win the crown and did have
The key to understanding this period of history is to drop kick our modern
images of Scotland, throw out our after-the-fact knowledge of who
eventually prevailed, read with scepticism the propaganda produced by those
14th century Scots, ignore completely the claims motivated by modern
Scottish nationalism, and understand that at the time it was not clear what
the right and just choice was (indeed, can it even be said it is clear
now?!?!). Here you had Edward I claiming he was overlord of Scotland, a
claim acknowledged by every single competitor, including Bruce. Was it
right to rise up against him if he was acknowledged overlord? Did not an
overlord have the right to strip a rebellous vassal of the lands held of
him? Even if it was right to rise up against Edward in favor of an
independent Scotland, what right had Bruce to the crown when all had
acknowledged Balliol king? It seems clear now that Bruce was the guy to
follow, but that's only because we know he won. Heck, even Bruce switched
sides several times. (And Bruce was by no means unique in this -- and there
were often more than two sides!)
Don't view the wars with England as a black and white issue, with clear
good guys and bad guys or obvious lines drawn between the patriots and the
evil empire. The real history is much more interesting than that!
Affrick niin Ken3ocht
** I am, of course, over-simplifying, but this is the essence of it.
Sharon Krossa, krossa@...
Medieval Scotland Web Page (including information on names & clothing):
eGroup home: http://www.eGroups.com/list/albanach
Free Web-based e-mail groups by eGroups.com