The earls of Dunbar and the church in Lothian and the Merse
By Elsa C. Hamilton
The Innes Review, Vol. 58:1 (2007)
Introduction: The Church in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Scotland, as elsewhere in western Europe, was in a process of reform, focusing on the issues of spiritual independence and authority, and seeking to impose more exacting standards of order and of professionalism amongst the clergy at all levels. The major players were the popes, the bishops and the great religious houses, sometimes united, sometimes uneasy allies, at times at odds; while outwith the Church establishment, kings, magnates and lesser lords, and the parish clergy of the old order, held their ground on some issues, and came to terms on others, relinquishing powers and lands and rights and revenues where these could no longer be justifiably held or exploited. It is against this background of change and conflict, and also of accommodation, that the charters of the Dunbar earls as patrons and benefactors but also as litigants and parties to dispute should be placed.