The Lanark Bond
The Lanark Bond
In January 1453, at Lanark, James earl of Douglas issued a document stating his personal loyalty to the king of Scots. Along with an agreement made the previous August, this document, known as the Lanark bond, was designed to resolve the conflict between King James II and the Black Douglas family which had erupted after the king’s killing of the previous earl. Though it has been mentioned in accounts of this pivotal period, the full text of the Lanark bond, which is derived from copies made by seventeenth-century antiquarians, has never been published nor examined. The bond is usually discussed as part of a brief interlude before the inevitable onset of the final phase of the confrontation between the crown and the Douglas earls – but its language and content suggest a wider significance. This chapter examines the context, terms and results of the Lanark bond, and discusses the wider use of such private agreements to express or re-establish political relationships at the highest level of Scottish politics. The reliance by Scottish elites on such political bonding is presented as a distinctive feature of the kingdom’s political mechanisms in the fifteenth century.
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