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Feudal Tenure

At the turn of the twelfth century Scotland was a very new country, recently created from four distinct groupings: Scots of Dalriada, Picts of the North East, Britons of Strathclyde and Angles of Lothian and the Merse.  When Alexander I of Albany died in 1124, his younger brother David, who already ruled Southern Scotland, set off to become the first King of Scots. He was, accompanied by a great court of Normans including Bruce, Balliol and FitzAlan (who was to become High Steward and founder of the Stewart dynasty). 

Thus Scotland included the seven Pict subkingdoms; the Scots kingdom of Dalriada, which became Argyll; the southern kingdoms of Strathclyde, Lothian, Northumbria, Cumbria and the provinces of Galloway. At this time the Western Isles, once Scots, had been lost to Magnus Barefoot of Norway, and the Orkneys and the Shetlands were still Norwegian.  David needed to create a unified nation, with a strong monarchy. With his Anglo-Norman outlook and culture, feudalism was the obvious answer.

Feudalism is an emotive concept and much misunderstood. It originated in continental Europe and was imposed on a conquered England by William of Normandy. It took some time to travel north and it was not until 1092 that it began to reach as far as Northumbria. By the time David introduced it to it was fairly well defined.  In theory the landholding structure was simple with the Crown as the ultimate feudal superior and "owner" of all the land. This land was divided into baronies and allocated as the Crown saw fit. The baron, as vassal, would be liable for a feu service or duty.  

 However, this has never truly been the case in Scotland as some land particularly the northern isles is allodial, that is without a feudal superior.

The Scottish parliament was careful, in 1556, to remind the Crown and nation that the title King of Scots denoted that the sovereign was essentially, and at common law, a personal Ard-Righ, not territorially King of Scotland. 

There were several different types of feudal tenure described more fully in England Initially it was often for military service but laterly it could be for financial payment. Almost all land in Scotland is today held on a type of tenure known as "feu farm tenure" "farm" meaning rent. 

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