‘A Somewhat Too Cruel Vengeance Was Taken for the Blood of the Slain’: Royal Punishment of Rebels, Traitors, and Political Enemies in Medieval Scotland, C.1100–C. 1250

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Tuesday 6 February 2024

MacInnes, Iain A. In Medieval and Early Modern Adultery, Betrayal, and Shame, edited by Larissa Tracy. Brill, 2019.

MacInnes dives into the aftermath of Anglo-Scottish war, a period which almost seems to involve more conflict than peace. By analysing the different interactions in non-war periods between the English and Scottish , MacInnes is able to pick out their differences in the perception of violence as an effective means of peacekeeping. He argues that a reconsideration of the sources from this period points towards the notion that submission has been the cornerstone of English and Scottish peace-making, rather than violent repercussions.

This article contains many interesting examples and anecdotes which build a fascinating picture of the aftermath of Anglo-Scottish conflict. One particularly compelling sidenote, which describes the Scottish tradition of beheading an enemy, sheds light on medieval Scottish peace-making. MacInnes argues that enemies’ heads were displayed not only as a sign of victory, but as a warning to those who wished to rebel and restart conflict. The need for a symbol to prove one side’s superior status the other was recognised by both sides as necessary for maintaining order.

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