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Steve Boardman and Julian Goodare, eds. Kings, Lords and Men in Scotland and Britain, 1300–1625: Essays in
Honour of Jenny Wormald. Edinburgh: Edinburgh
University Press, 2014. Pp. 362. £75.00 (cloth).
Barbara C. Murison
Journal of British Studies / Volume 54 / Issue 02 / April 2015, pp 484 - 485
DOI: 10.1017/jbr.2015.11, Published online: 15 April 2015
Link to this article: http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0021937115000118
How to cite this article:
Barbara C. Murison (2015). Journal of British Studies, 54, pp 484-485 doi:10.1017/jbr.2015.11
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Downloaded from http://journals.cambridge.org/JBR, IP address: 18.104.22.168 on 09 May 2015 citing the ministerial pamphlet The Defection Consider’d that “foreigners with amazement look on these divisions.” The book is full of interesting aperçus, such as some judicious comments about diplomatic gossip and the ways it was fanned by the representatives of the smaller states.
In sum, Politics and Foreign Policy in the Age of George I is up there with the best of Jeremy
Black’s books on eighteenth-century international relations.
Nigel Aston, University of Leicester
STEVE BOARDMAN and JULIAN GOODARE, eds. Kings, Lords and Men in Scotland and Britain, 1300–1625: Essays in Honour of JennyWormald. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Pp. 362. £75.00 (cloth). doi: 10.1017/jbr.2015.11
The work of JennyWormald is extremely important in the world of medieval and early modern
Scottish history. Her output has been substantial: publications include three books authored, five books edited or co-edited, forty-two articles or book chapters, and more than twenty shorter works. Moreover, it is not just the volume of the work that impresses, but its nature. Wormald launched a fearless attack on what she regarded as long-standing misconceptions about the Scottish kingdom, replacing notions of weak kings, rambunctious nobles, and long-lasting instability with reminders about effective monarchs and crown-noble cooperation, as well as warnings about viewing Scottish politics through an English prism and neglecting
European perspectives; she also rethought Scottish periodization.
The fifteen chapters of this book, based in the main on the conference papers marking her seventieth birthday in 2012, essentially engage with and expand upon her work. The authors are largely her former students, colleagues, and friends; that said, this is not an exercise in hagiography. Thus Keith Brown’s first chapter is an essential complement to the editors’ introduction, directing the reader to the intellectual framework of her work, explaining some of the criticisms of it by later authors but acknowledging how well Wormald reset the agenda for the study of medieval and early modern Scottish history.
The remaining fourteen chapters are organized roughly chronologically and into two sections, each focused on Wormald’s particular interests, “lords and men” and “kings and lords.” Steve Boardman seeks to fill a perceived gap in the Wormald agenda, arguing that, although she brilliantly discussed the significance of patrilineal descent in establishing kinship obligations, she was too dismissive of connections formed through marriage and of matrilineal bonds. There follows an intriguing study of the colorful career ofMargaret Stewart, countess of
Angus andMar,whose ambitionswere in someways best realizedby reliance onhermaternal kin and on the affinity of her Douglas lover but who, nonetheless, was increasingly sidelined insofar as the lands of Mar were concerned and her rights as dowager Countess.
Christine Carpenter’s chapter on bastard feudalism in fourteenth century England makes no reference to Scotland; however, her statement that the public power of the crown rested on the private power and relationships of nobles and gentry resembles Wormald’s analysis of the relationship between Scottish kings, lords, and men. It also contributes to the English debate on bastard feudalism and its dating. The title of Hector McQueen’s chapter, “Tame Magnates?
The Justiciars of later Medieval Scotland,” alludes to Wormald’s article “Taming the Magnates.”McQueen provides a painstaking study of the identities and responsibilities of these important officials (always major nobles and sometimes of royal blood), lending weight to the
Wormald emphasis on cooperation, rather than conflict, with the crown.
John Watts’s study of the poet John Skelton might seem far removed from the world of
Wormald. However, Watts points out the parallels between Renaissance England and 484 ▪ Book Reviews
Renaissance Scotland and provides a useful analysis of Skelton’s life and poetry. The highlight of the piece, however, is a poem purporting to be by Skelton but clearly written byWatts about
Wormald, complete with footnote references to Adolf Falschlehrer and Alexander Salmond!
Feuds form the material for A. Mark Godfrey’s chapter. Although he appreciates Wormald’s explanation of the role of feud in late medieval Scotland, he rejects the idea that it was the governing concept for analysis of disputes and suggests that we should instead see it as simply a means to create pressure for a settlement. In other words, private and public justice would both be needed and no settlement would mean a continuance of disorder. Alexander Grant addresses the same topic, again reflecting on Wormald’s influential article “Bloodfeud, Kindred and Government in Early Modern Scotland” (1980). This chapter is particularly useful in its definition of many aspects of feud, and it ranges far beyond Scotland. Grant neatly concludes that, in the end, the king’s justice cannot be distinguished from the kin’s justice since the king was overall head of the entire Scottish kindred.