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Scottish Legal History

Volume 1: 1000-1707

Andrew R. C. Simpson, Adelyn L. M. Wilson

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The first textbook on Scottish legal history from the genesis of Scots law to the Union, written from a legal perspective

From the roots of a law that applied to all subjects of the Scottish King to the 1707 Union with England, this new legal history textbook explores the genesis, evolution and enduring influence of early Scots law. Discover how and why Scots law come into being, how was it used in dispute resolution during the medieval and early modern periods and how its authority developed over the centuries.

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Part I: The Origins of the Scottish Common Law to c.1230
1. From Legal Diversity to Some Legal Commonality

Part II: The Consolidation of the Common Law, c.1230–ca.1450
2. The Brieves (Part One)
3. The Brieves (Part Two)
4. 'Crimes'
5. Law and Order in the Highlands and Islands

Part III: The Transformation of the Scottish Common Law, c.1450–c.1580
6. The Jurisdiction of the Session
7. Legal Learning and Legal Authority in the College of Justice
8. Reformation, Revolution and the Legal System
9. The Learned Authority of Scots Law
10. Legal Learning and the Power of Parliament

Part IV: Regal Union with England, c.1580–1707
11. Authority and Government in the Scottish Reign of James VI
12. Authority and Government after 1603
13. Interregnum or Republic in the 1650s
14. Legal Literature
15. Legal Authority and the Learned Laws
16. Legal Authority of Scottish Sources
17. Advocates in the Court of Session and Inferior Jurisdictions in Aberdeen
18. Advocates, Witches and Judicial Torture
19. Revolution and Union


About the Author

Andrew R. C. Simpson is Lecturer in Law at the University of Aberdeen.

Adelyn L.M. Wilson is Lecturer in Law at the University of Aberdeen.


It is therefore refreshing to find a new textbook that takes the most recent scholarship into account and that does not seem to be too pre-occupied with proving or disproving various narratives. For a textbook to be “useful” to students, the writing needs to be clear and concise while at the same time showing sensitivity to contested points and scholarly debates. This book has that in spades.

This is an exceedingly good book. Not just in textbook terms, but also as a general history of Scots law. It succeeds admirably in capturing the reader with an engaging narrative and will no doubt be very popular with a broad audience (not only students). The editing has been done to the highest standards and the authors are to be commended for producing a very engaging read. Textbooks are rarely page-turners, but this one, indeed, is.

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