TO TAKE OR TO MAKE? CONTRACTING FOR LEGITIMACY IN THE EMERGING STATES OFTWELFTH-CENTURY BRITAIN
Gardner, Leigh A. (Jesus College, University of Oxford)
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, Discussion Papers in Economic and Social History, Number 73, November (2008)
The early twelfth century was notable for the centralization and consolidation of royal governance in the centre as well as the periphery of Europe. This paper presents a model of medieval kingship in which consent for the king’s rule is founded upon a network of bargains and agreements between the king and magnates who hold local power. The model is applied to the administration of Scotland under King David I (1124–1153). David I consolidated and expanded his authority by providing magnates who held local power with incentives to cooperate through the strategic distribution of revenue and provision of protection services, including the enforcement of property rights, dispute resolution and the facilitation of exchange. This theory is also used to explain Scotland’s appropriation of land in northern England following the death of Henry I of England in 1135, and its loss of the same territory after David I died in 1153.
Like other regions in Europe’s periphery, early twelfth-century Scotland represents a rich but little-studied example of the negotiation of power in the middle ages. The twelfth-century Scottish kings emerged from leading what was a loose conglomeration of often antagonistic regional groups to consolidate their authority over much of their own territory and appropriate valuable tracts of land in northern England.