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Scotland and Arbroath 1320 – 2020

700 Years of Fighting for Freedom, Sovereignty, and Independence


Edited By Klaus Peter Müller

700 years of people in Scotland, England, Europe, and the world fighting for freedom, sovereignty, independence and justice are investigated in the essential periods and cultures since the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath: the Middle Ages, the Reformation and Early Modern Age, the English Revolution, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Cultural, media, political, and social studies, history, the law, art, philosophy, and literature are used for an analysis of the evolution of human rights, democracy, freedom, individual as well as national independence and justice in connection with past and present threats to them. Threats from politics, the economy, digitalisation, artificial intelligence, people's ignorance.


With contributions by Alasdair Allan MSP, Christopher J. Berry, Neil Blain, Alexander Broadie FRSE, Dauvit Broun, Mark P. Bruce, Ewen A. Cameron, Robert Crawford, Ian Duncan, Richard J. Finlay, David Forrest, Edouard Gaudot, Marjory Harper, Sarah Longlands, Ben McConville, David McCrone, Aileen McHarg, John Morrison, Klaus Peter Müller, Hugh O’Donnell, Murray Pittock, Anthony Salamone, David R. Sorensen, Silke Stroh, Christopher A. Whatley and Ben Wray.

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The Declaration of Arbroath and Scots Law (Aileen McHarg (Durham))


Aileen McHarg (Durham)

The Declaration of Arbroath and Scots Law

Abstract: The Declaration of Arbroath is often seen as epitomising a Scottish constitutional tradition of limited monarchy and popular sovereignty. While it seems to have had no direct legal influence, securing independence was crucial to the development of a separate Scottish legal system, the survival of which has been an important aspect of Scotland’s constitutional status within the United Kingdom. Echoes of the ideas found in the Declaration can also be found in Scots constitutional thinking, albeit interest in a distinct Scottish constitutional tradition is a relatively recent one.

Keywords: History; Arbroath; law; constitution; sovereignty; monarchy; independence; Scotland; England; Magna Carta; Brexit

1 The Declaration of Arbroath: Scotland’s Magna Carta?

According to Roger A. Mason (2014, 266), the Declaration of Arbroath “has come to be seen as Scotland’s Magna Carta, the ur-text of a tradition of Scottish political thought and practice that in turn defines Scotland’s unique constitutional – and cultural – identity.” Whereas Magna Carta, first issued in 1215, symbolises England’s ancient commitment to the Rule of Law and individual liberty, the Declaration of Arbroath is frequently cited as evidence of an almost-as-ancient Scottish constitutional model involving a limited, contractually-based monarchy and the location of sovereignty in the people rather than the Crown (cf. Bulmer 2018, 86; MacCormick 2000, 35; Scottish Government 2014, 27).

There the similarity ends, however (MacQueen 2018, 167 f). In the first place, Magna Carta...

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