Were there 'nations' in medieval Europe and did they act as political entities? Even if they didn't, did people (and who?) think they should? This is an old question, and very germane to current affairs. The 'community of the realm in Scotland' project (or COTR) aims to establish a new perspective on the medieval idea of the nation by undertaking the first-empirically grounded, long-term case study of a nationally-defined medieval political community, the kingdom of the Scots (or Scotland, as it came to be known), between the mid-thirteenth and mid-fifteenth centuries.
These centuries were extraordinarily politically turbulent: the reigning royal dynasty failed in 1290, leaving a well-defined 'community of the realm'—communitas regni—in its place. The next two centuries saw war with the English, the capture of successive kings and two major changes in royal dynasty. This project is concerned with how the idea of a politically constituted community changed over two centuries: essentially, we are interested in how particular ideas and expressions of political legitimacy have purchase at different times and places. We are interested in figuring out not only what was this 'community' but also who it involved and how did it claim legitimacy? Moreover, what happened to the idea of a medieval community representing a people over the next two centuries? Did it endure as a formal expression of medieval political community or did other ideas take its place?
Find out more about the project's aims and research on law, charters, and history-writing. We will (through the expertise of King's Digital Lab) also be developing an innovative new way of digitally editing medieval texts, and will be producing a new digital edition of the work known as the 'Declaration of Arbroath'.
The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Grant Ref: AH/P013759/1