Crime and Control in Scotland 1500-1800
Scotland was a much more disciplined society in the years before the Industrial Revolution than has usually been supported, as Lenman and Parker, the authors of the first of these two articles on 'Crime in Britain 1500-1800' show.
The generally accepted picture of Scotland before 1707 is of a land ravaged by almost continuous political anarchy where might was right and justice as scarce as order. It was certainly an armed society in which kinship groups were significant and frequently avenged with violence wrongs done to their members. As was the case ion most European societies before 1800, socially eminent individuals were just as liable as the lower orders to give way to fits of murderous passion. James II of Scotland murdered Earl William, head of the Black Douglases, in February, 1452, after inviting him to visit him. It was a foul deed, done apparently on impulse despite solemn pledges of safe-conduct and the laws of hospitality. It led to civil war.