A database identifying over 15000 people in medieval Scotland has been officially launched. Paradox of Medieval Scotland, 1093-1286 draws on over 6000 charters to construct a unique data-base that provides biographical information about all known people in Scotland during that period.
Historians and researchers will be able to search or browse through 15,221 persons, which is just a small percentage of the estimated half-million residents of Scotland during the central Middle Ages. The database shows not only who they were, but gives an insight into how they related to each other as individuals, as different parts of society and as Gaels and non-Gaels.
Professor Dauvit Broun of the University of Glasgow, one of the lead researchers in the project told the Press Association, “The database will allow scholars across the world as well as anyone with an interest in Scottish history to study the people of a medieval kingdom in unprecedented detail.
“The project focuses on the 12th and 13th centuries as this is the period when ‘Scotland’ and ‘Scots’ first began to mean what it does today. By the end of this period it seems to have been taken for granted by the king’s subjects that the kingdom consisted of a single country whose inhabitants were a single people: the Scots. But this contrasts with the beginning of this period when the king was thought of as ruling a number of regions and peoples.”
Paradox of Medieval Scotland aims to answer several questions about the social history of the country: “Is it a coincidence that it was only in the thirteenth century, when Anglicisation became dominant in the lowlands, that the kingdom of the Scots ceased to be regarded by its inhabitants as a realm of many regions and began to be thought of as a single country and people? In one sense the kingdom was becoming more self-consciously Scottish; and yet its history in this period is typically seen in terms of native distinctiveness being eroded by the influx of English immigration, social institutions and culture. But, should this be seen primarily in British terms? How does this transformation relate to wider patterns of social and cultural homogenisation that have been identified in this period, embracing French-speaking elites, Flemish as well as English traders, and the religious life and institutions of Latin Christendom?”
The project is a joint effort between the University of Glasgow, the University of Edinburgh, and King’s College London, with funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
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