The community of the realm in Scotland, 1249–1424
History, law and charters in a recreated kingdom

The social networks of the Declaration of Arbroath (1320)

By Matthew Hammond

CITE THIS PAGE: Matthew Hammond, 'The social networks of the Declaration of Arbroath (1320)', The community of the realm in Scotland, 1249 -1424: History, law and charters in a recreated kingdom, 21 Nov. 2019, https://cotr.ac.uk/social-network-analysis-political-communities-and-social-networks/social-networks-declaration-arbroath-1320/

The following Gephi sociograms highlight the role played by many of the barons who addressed the letter to Pope John XXII in 1320 (better known as the Declaration of Arbroath) in the network of charter witnesses of King Robert I. The 1320 barons' names are coloured blue. It is immediately apparent that many of the most central lay actors in Robert's court also lent their names to the 'Declaration', including the core group of Robert Keith, marischal; Gilbert Hay, constable; Walter Stewart, steward; James Douglas; and Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray.

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The following table lists the 1320 barons who witnessed Robert I's charters in order of their degree in Robert's witness network. It is noteworthy that William Soulis, Roger de Mowbray, and David Brechin, three men involved in a plot later that year to overturn Bruce's kingship, all appear towards the bottom of the list, with few co-witnessing contacts.

Centrality numbers for Declaration of Arbroath barons

1) listed according to degree (number of co-witnessing contacts)

PoMS ID Name Degree Weighted Degree Closeness Betweenness Eigenvector
16138 Robert Keith, marischal (d.1343) 85 770 0.882883 744.0062 1
13771 Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray (d.1332) 73 702 0.796748 416.2292 0.931364
12057 Gilbert Hay (II), constable (d.1333) 72 708 0.790323 377.6964 0.913452
16402 James Douglas, lord of Douglas (d.1330) 70 824 0.765625 303.7801 0.927236
16584 Walter Stewart (III) (d.1327) 56 595 0.7 196.3449 0.780872
17928 Alexander Seton, knight 47 256 0.657718 120.9029 0.678916
14047 John of Menteith (I), knight 45 249 0.649007 119.5557 0.63644
17148 Duncan (IV), earl of Fife (d.1353) 43 242 0.632258 77.39033 0.683772
16344 Alexander Fraser (II), chamberlain (d.1332) 39 225 0.624204 48.50827 0.642551
5981 Patrick (V), earl of March (d.1369) 36 140 0.6125 30.60092 0.603709
16083 Malcolm (II), earl of Lennox (d.1333) 30 134 0.590361 38.39425 0.446892
14048 David Lindsay of Crawford, knight (d. x1357) 27 90 0.573099 6.620465 0.506504
17064 Malise (IV), earl of Strathearn (d.1328×30) 26 111 0.576471 9.356534 0.482962
16175 Henry Sinclair (d.c.1330) 23 56 0.566474 12.66152 0.432374
22892 William de Munfichet (Muschet) (14C) 22 41 0.563218 6.130674 0.420362
18608 William Oliphant, knight (d.1329) 21 50 0.56 13.70006 0.356104
16465 William (II), earl of Ross (d.1323) 16 35 0.541436 3.686397 0.2819
18188 David of Brechin (d.1320) 13 14 0.535519 3.036674 0.26073
16532 Donald Campbell, knight 11 11 0.5 0 0.16686
18443 William Soulis, butler (d.1320/21) 10 21 0.526882 0.043478 0.233583
17421 Roger de Mowbray, knight (d. 1320) 9 9 0.524064 0 0.194028
22931 William Abernethy 6 6 0.502564 0 0.134269
16855 David Graham (V) (son of Patrick), knight 5 5 0.439462 0 0.074407

2) Listed according to order in the Letter of the barons (order of dignity/ perceived status)

The following table lists the names of the barons in the order in which their names appear in the letter. This 'order of dignity' accords each baron his high rank according to conventional feelings about elite status. The earls - eight of them - go first, with the earl of Fife given his traditional position at the top of the pack. The historical top trio of Scottish earls of Fife, March (formerly Dunbar) and Strathearn, which had maintained that status for a century and a half, was now joined by the newly created earl of Moray, Thomas Randolph, whose power reached almost viceregal status. The northern earls of Ross, Sutherland and Caithness came at the bottom of the pack. Two royal household officers came next, the stewart and the butler, followed by James Douglas, whose position in southern Scotland was on the ascendant. The following barons were scions of the great aristocratic houses of Scotland, including Graham, Fraser, Hay, Keith, Lindsay, and Oliphant. The inclusion of Henry Sinclair and John Graham, lord of Dalkeith was probably down to the letter being composed at an assembly at Newbattle abbey, neighbouring their estates.

If we compare the letter's order of dignity with the position of the actors in the charter witnessing network of King Robert, we get a very different picture. Most of the earls either do not appear in the witness network at all (Sutherland, Caithness), or held much less prominent positions. Only the earls of Moray and Fife were part of the 'top ten' of charter witnesses according to their degree (number of contacts). By contrast, many of most important players in Robert's witnessing network, and by extension at his court, like James Douglas, Gilbert Hay, and Robert Keith, fall much lower in the order of dignity. On the other hand, the lion's share of the lowest-status barons to appear in letter did not appear as witnesses to Robert's charters at all.

Order of dignity in letter Order by degree Person POMS no Degree Eigen Weighted Degree
1 8 Duncan (IV), earl of Fife (d.1353) 17148 43 0.683772 242
2 2 Thomas Randolph (d.1332), e. Moray 13771 73 0.931364 702
3 10 Patrick (V), earl of March (d.1369) 5981 36 0.603709 140
4 13 Malise (IV), earl of Strathearn (d.1328x30) 17064 26 0.482962 111
5 11 Malcolm (II), earl of Lennox (d.1333) 16083 30 0.446892 134
6 17 William (II), earl of Ross (d.1323) 16465 16 0.2819 35
7 - Magnus (V), e. Caithness and Orkney (d. 1321) 17997 0 0 0
8 - William (III), earl of Sutherland (d. 1330) 18023 0 0 0
9 5 Walter Stewart (III) (d.1327) 16584 56 0.780872 595
10 20 William Soulis, butler of Scotland (d.1320/21) 18443 10 0.233583 21
11 4 James Douglas, lord of Douglas (d.1330) 16402 70 0.927236 824
12 21 Roger de Mowbray, knight (d. 1320) 17421 9 0.194028 9
13 18 David of Brechin (d.1320) 18188 13 0.26073 14
14 23 David Graham (V) (son of Patrick), knight 16855 5 0.074407 5
15 - Ingram de Umfraville (d. ca 1321) 1919 0 0 0
16 7 John of Menteith (I), knight 14047 45 0.63644 249
17 9 Alexander Fraser (II), chamberlain (d.1332) 16344 39 0.642551 225
18 3 Gilbert Hay (II), lord of Errol, constable (d.1333) 12057 72 0.913452 708
19 1 Robert Keith, marischal (d.1343) 16138 85 1 770
20 14 Henry Sinclair (d.c.1330) 16175 23 0.432374 56
21 - John Graham, lord of Dalkeith 16606 0 0 0
22 12 David Lindsay of Crawford, knight (d. x1357) 14048 27 0.506504 90
23 16 William Oliphant, knight (d.1329) 18608 21 0.356104 50
24 - Patrick Graham, knight 16711 0 0 0
25 - John of Fenton 16725 0 0 0
26 22 William Abernethy (14C) 22931 6 0.134269 6
27 - David of Wemyss, knight 0 0 0 0
28 15 William de Munfichet (Muschet) (14C) 22892 22 0.420362 41
29 - Fergus of Ardrossan (14C) 18523 0 0 0
30 - Eustace Maxwell Not in poms! 0 0 0
31 - William Ramsay (son of Malcolm) 19305 0 0 0
32 - William Mowat of Blair 18692 0 0 0
33 - Alan Murray 12116 0 0 0
34 19 Donald Campbell, knight 16532 11 0.16686 11
35 - John Cameron of Baledgarno, knight 16995 0 0 0
36 - Reginald Cheyne (III), knight 22915 0 0 0
37 6 Alexander Seton, knight 17928 47 0.678916 256
38 - Andrew Leslie, knight Not in poms! 0 0 0
39 - Alexander Straiton 17111 0 0 0

Ego-networks

Ego-networks are subsets of the whole network defined according to any one individual player. The density of an ego-network is defined as how many potential ties between their contacts are actualised. In other words, do ego's friends know each other or not? If all of ego's friends know each other, his ego-network has a density of 1, and his position in the network means little, because everyone knows everyone else. If ego has a low density, then ego's contacts do not know each other, potentially setting up ego to act as a bridge or broker: knowledge and influence must flow through ego. For this reason, individuals with low ego-network densities tend to be power-players. The following table lists the 1320 letter barons in order of increasing density. This is another way of demonstrating which barons held the most influential positions in the king's court.

Person POMS no Degree Eigenvector centrality Ego-network densities
Robert Keith, marischal (d.1343) 16138 85 1 .264
Gilbert Hay (II), lord of Errol, constable (d.1333) 12057 72 0.913452 .314
Thomas Randolph (d.1332), earl of Moray 13771 73 0.931364 .318
James Douglas, lord of Douglas (d.1330) 16402 70 0.927236 .343
Walter Stewart (III) (d.1327) 16584 56 0.780872 .396
John of Menteith (I), knight 14047 45 0.63644 .437
Alexander Seton, knight (late13C/early 14C) 17928 47 0.678916 .46
Duncan (IV), earl of Fife (d.1353) 17148 43 0.683772 .557
Alexander Fraser (II), chamberlain (d.1332) 16344 39 0.642551 .571
Malcolm (II), earl of Lennox (d.1333) 16083 30 0.446892 .583
Patrick (V), earl of Dunbar/March (d.1369) 5981 36 0.603709 .592
Malise (IV), earl of Strathearn (d.1328x30) 17064 26 0.482962 .738
Henry Sinclair (d.c.1330) 16175 23 0.432374 .746
William de Munfichet (Muschet) (14C) 22892 22 0.420362 .802
David Lindsay of Crawford, knight (d. x1357) 14048 27 0.506504 .782
William Oliphant, knight (d.1329) 18608 21 0.356104 .667
William (II), earl of Ross (d.1323) 16465 16 0.2819 .824
David of Brechin (d.1320) 18188 13 0.26073 .835
William Soulis, butler of Scotland (d.1320/21) 18443 10 0.233583 1.0
Roger de Mowbray, knight (d. 1320) 17421 9 0.194028 1.0
Donald Campbell, knight 16532 11 0.16686 1.0
William Abernethy (14C) 22931 6 0.134269 .667
David Graham (V) (son of Patrick), knight 16855 5 0.074407 1.067

The following sociogram illustrates the ego-network of William Soulis, who led the failed 1320 coup attempt against Robert. As we can see, William appears as a minor player even within his own ego-network.

William Soulis WEB.png