The privy council of James V of Scotland, 1528-1542

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Abstract

The development of the Scottish privy, or secret, council has hitherto been located in the 1540s and attributed to the pressures on government brought about by royal minority. Concomitantly, scholarship exploring the personal rule of James V (1528–42) has focused on the king's relations with individual magnates and neglected the subject of institutional development during his reign. Through an examination of commentary on the council outwith the council register, ranging from acts of parliament to correspondence and reports by foreign observers, this article posits a significantly earlier date for conciliar development in Scotland than has hitherto been appreciated. The council is visible throughout the personal rule of James V, assuming a particularly significant role in Anglo-Scots diplomacy from 1540 until 1542, when it was delegated by James to respond to letters during his frequent absences from Edinburgh. This aspect of council activity provides an example of institutional development facilitating rather than hindering the continuation of a peripatetic royal court, an unusual combination in not only a Scottish but a wider European context. Reassessing the significance of James V's council thus has broader implications for understandings of his kingship and the expansion of crown power in sixteenth-century Scotland, whilst throwing light on questions of Anglo-Scots diplomacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-44
JournalThe Historical Journal
Volume59
Issue number1
Early online date9 Dec 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

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