Leges Scocie and the lawcodes of David I, William the Lion and Alexander II

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This paper examines Leges Scocie (LS), the main source used by Patrick Wormald in ‘Anglo-Saxon Law and Scots Law’. It is shown here that the capitula of LS reveal much not only about the development of legal procedure in Scotland but also about the nature of medieval Scottish society in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. In the process of this discussion, some conclusions put forward by Wormald about this material are questioned. This paper also shows that the ‘laws’ of David, William and Alexander II, once believed to be nebulous texts without any clear manuscript form, are, in fact, coherent legal compilations worthy of study in their own right. This corrects the impression that the early laws of Scotland survive in a manuscript tradition too late and too complicated to be studied with any fruitful results and thus opens up the material in volume i of The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland for further study. The paper concludes by arguing that the evidence contained in all these lawcodes can provide rather different narratives of subjects that are key to our understanding of Scotland during the central Middle Ages: the exercise of royal power, the ‘Anglo-Norman Era’ and the extent of the Scottish state before the twelfth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-88
Number of pages81
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • LAW
  • Kingship


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