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Five - “And Make Some Other Man Our King”

Labile Elite Power Structures in Early Iron Age Europe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 October 2021

T. L. Thurston
University at Buffalo, State University of New York
Manuel Fernández-Götz
University of Edinburgh
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This excerpt is from the Declaration of Arbroath, which was sent in 1320 with the signatures of 38 Scots noblemen to Pope John XXII in Avignon. The document is an expression of support for Robert I, also known as The Bruce, the leader of one of several competing polities in Scotland in the 14th century. Its other purpose was to petition the pope to persuade the English, led at the time by Edward I, also known as Malleus Scotorum, or “The Hammer of the Scots,” to cease hostilities against Scotland. (To be fair, he hammered the Welsh and diverse infidels in the Holy Land during the Ninth Crusade as well; hammering seems to have been his thing.) The term the Scots nobles used in the Declaration to describe their polity was nacio, usually translated as “the people,” which of course did not mean what it does today – women, children and landless males too old or poor to count were implicitly included but had no actual power over their own persons.

Power from Below in Premodern Societies
The Dynamics of Political Complexity in the Archaeological Record
, pp. 106 - 124
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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