Special section published in Urban History: “Communities, courts and Scottish towns”

This month sees the publication in Urban History (Volume 44 – Issue 3 August 2017) of a special section entitled ‘Communities, courts and Scottish towns’. Co-edited by Andrew Mackillop and Jackson W. Armstrong, it features the following articles:

Jackson W. Armstrong and Andrew Mackillop, ‘Introduction: communities, courts and Scottish towns’. The section editors set the stage for three essays which examine changing features of pre-modern political society between the fifteenth century and the early nineteenth century, and the construction and sometimes contested use of vocabularies of law and authority, privileges and liberties, and ideas of urban ‘community’.

Claire Hawes, ‘The urban community in fifteenth-century Scotland: language, law and political practice’. This article seeks to provoke discussion of the political culture of Scotland’s late medieval towns through an analysis of communitarian language and its use by urban elites. Hawes argues that the Scottish urban community, as elsewhere, could be positioned as a location, a legal construct and a group of people. This provided the burgh council with a variety of political tools which could be employed – consciously or otherwise – in order to legitimize its authority.

Bob Harris, ‘Scots burghs, ‘privilege’ and the Court of Session in the eighteenth century’. This piece explores the propensity of Scottish burghs to resort to legal redress in Scotland’s leading civil court. Harris traces what this can tell us both about urban identity and the constitution of urban community in this period, and he opens up an examination of the role which the law may have played in the re-constitution and re-shaping of urban community.

Andrew Mackillop, ‘Riots and reform: burgh authority, the languages of civic reform and the Aberdeen riot of 1785′. This article explores the understudied riots which occurred in Aberdeen in mid-October 1785. Mackillop charts the climate of politicization that characterized the burgh’s civic life in the immediate aftermath of the American Revolution and before the outbreak of the equivalent process in France.

The special section arises as part of the wider Aberdeen Burgh Records Project in RIISS (https://www.abdn.ac.uk/riiss/about/aberdeen-burgh-records-project-97.php), and we are delighted to see these articles feature in Urban History.

The articles and further information may be found at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/urban-history

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