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The Parliament of Scotland ( sco, Pairlament o Scotland; gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba) was the
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
of the
Kingdom of Scotland The Kingdom of Scotland ( gd, Rìoghachd na h-Alba; sco, Kinrick o Scotland) was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. Inte ...
. The parliament, like other such institutions, evolved during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
from the king's council of
bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian Chu ...

bishop
s and
earl Earl () is a rank of the nobility in Britain. The title originates in the Old English word ''eorl'', meaning "a man of noble birth or rank". The word is cognate with the Scandinavia Scandinavia, Sami languages, Sami: ''Skadesi-suolu''/''S ...

earl
s. It is first identifiable as a parliament in 1235, during the reign of
Alexander II
Alexander II
, when it was described as a "colloquium" and already possessed a political and judicial role. By the early 14th century, the attendance of
knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative for service to the monarch, the christian denomination, church or the country, especially in a military capacity. Knighthoo ...

knight
s and freeholders had become important, and from 1326
commissioners A commissioner is, in principle, a member of a Regulatory agency, commission or an individual who has been given a Wiktionary: commission, commission (official charge or authority to do something). In practice, the title of commissioner has evolve ...
from the
burgh A burgh is an autonomous The federal subject in Russia">Federal subjects of Russia">federal subject in Russia, close to borders of Finland. Picture of Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Republic of Karelia. In developmental psychology and m ...
s attended. Consisting of the "
three estates 250px, A 13th-century French representation of the tripartite social order of the Middle Ages – ''Oratores'' ("those who pray"), ''Bellatores'' ("those who fight"), and ''Laboratores'' ("those who work"). The estates of the realm, or three est ...
" of
clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established s. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's s and practices. Some of the terms used for ind ...
,
nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates of the realm, estate of the realm that p ...
and the burghs sitting in a single chamber, the parliament gave consent for the raising of
taxation A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or Legal person, legal entity) by a governmental organization in order to fund government spending and various public expenditures (regional, ...
and played an important role in the administration of justice, foreign policy, war, and all manner of other legislation. Parliamentary business was also carried out by "sister" institutions, such as General Councils or
Convention of Estates The Convention of Estates of Scotland was a sister institution to the Parliament of Scotland, Scottish Parliament which sat from the early sixteenth century. Initially it was only attended by the clergy and nobles, but the burgh commissioners were l ...
. These could carry out much business also dealt with by parliament – taxation, legislation and policy-making – but lacked the ultimate authority of a full parliament.Brown and Tanner, ''History of the Scottish Parliament'', i, Introduction The Parliament of Scotland met for more than four centuries, until it was prorogued ''
sine die In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no g ...
'' at the time of the Acts of Union in 1707. Thereafter the
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union 1707, Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts ratified the treaty of Union which created a ...
operated for both England and Scotland after the creation of the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
on 1 May 1707. When the
Parliament of Ireland The Parliament of Ireland ( ga, Parlaimint na hÉireann) was the of the , and later the , from 1297 until 1800. It was modelled on the and from 1537 comprised two chambers: the and the . The Lords were members of the (’’) and bisho ...
was abolished in 1801, its former members were merged into what was now called the
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kin ...
. The pre-Union parliament was long portrayed as a constitutionally defective body that acted merely as a
rubber stamp Rubber stamping, also called stamping, is a craft in which some type of ink made of dye or pigment is applied to an image or pattern that has been Wikt:carving, carved, molded, laser engraving, laser engraved or Vulcanization, vulcanized, ont ...
for royal decisions, but research during the early 21st century has found that it played an active role in
Scottish affairs ''Scottish Affairs'' is a peer-reviewed academic journal covering Scottish politics. It was established in 1992 and has been published by Edinburgh University Press since 2014. It is the successor to the ''Scottish Government Yearbooks'', which ra ...
, and was sometimes a thorn in the side of the Scottish Crown.


Three Estates

The members were collectively referred to as the Three Estates ( sco, Thrie Estaitis), or "three communities of the realm" (''tres communitates''), until 1690 composed of: * the ''first estate'' of
prelate A prelate () is a high-ranking member of the clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established s. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their r ...
s (
bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian Chu ...

bishop
s and
abbot Abbot (from Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long ...

abbot
s) * the ''second estate'' of the nobility (
duke Duke is a male title either of a monarch ruling over a , or of a member of , or . As rulers, dukes are ranked below s, s, s, s, and sovereign s. As royalty or nobility, they are ranked below princes of nobility and grand dukes. The title comes ...

duke
s,
marquess A marquess (; french: marquis ), es, marqués, pt, marquês. is a nobleman Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), arist ...
es,
earl Earl () is a rank of the nobility in Britain. The title originates in the Old English word ''eorl'', meaning "a man of noble birth or rank". The word is cognate with the Scandinavia Scandinavia, Sami languages, Sami: ''Skadesi-suolu''/''S ...

earl
s,
viscount A viscount ( , for male) or viscountess (, for female) is a title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qu ...
s, parliamentary peers (after 1437) and
lay Lay may refer to: Places *Lay Range, a subrange of mountains in British Columbia, Canada *Lay, Loire, a French commune *Lay (river), France *Lay, Iran, a village *Lay, Kansas, United States, an unincorporated community People * Lay (surname) * L ...
tenants-in-chief In medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the ...
) * the ''third estate'' of Burgh Commissioners (representatives chosen by the
royal burghs A royal burgh was a type of Scottish burgh A burgh is an autonomous The federal subject in Russia">Federal subjects of Russia">federal subject in Russia, close to borders of Finland. Picture of Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Republi ...
) The bishops and abbots of the First Estate were the thirteen medieval bishops of
Aberdeen Aberdeen (; sco, Aiberdeen, ; gd, Obar Dheathain ; la, Aberdonia) is a city in northeast Scotland. It is the List of towns and cities in Scotland by population, third most populous city in Scotland, one of Scotland's 32 Local government in ...
,
Argyll Argyll (; archaically Argyle, in Scottish Gaelic language, modern Gaelic, ), sometimes called Argyllshire, is a Counties of Scotland, historic county and registration county of western Scotland. Argyll is of ancient origin, and corresponds to ...
,
Brechin Brechin (; gd, Breichinn) is a town and former Royal burgh in Angus, Scotland. Traditionally Brechin was described as a city because of its cathedral and its status as the seat of a pre-Scottish Reformation, Reformation Roman Catholic diocese ( ...
,
Caithness Caithness ( gd, Gallaibh , sco, Caitnes; non, Katanes) is a historic county, registration county A registration county was, in Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continent ...
,
Dunblane Dunblane (, gd, Dùn Bhlàthain) is a small town in the council area of Stirling (council area), Stirling in central Scotland, and prior to 1994 inside the boundaries of Perthshire. It is a commuter town, with many residents making use of good ...
,
Dunkeld Dunkeld (, sco, Dunkell, from gd, Dùn Chailleann, "fort of the Caledonians") is a town in Perth and Kinross, Scotland, a historic cathedral "city" on the north bank of the River Tay, opposite Birnam. It lies close to the geological Highla ...
,
Galloway Galloway ( ; sco, Gallowa; la, Gallovidia) is a region in southwestern Scotland comprising the counties of Scotland, historic counties of Wigtownshire and Kirkcudbrightshire. It is administered as part of the council areas of Scotland, counci ...
,
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesga; gd, Glaschu) is the most populous city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia'' ...
, Isles (Sodor),
Moray Moray ( ; sco, Moray; gd, Moireibh or ') is one of the 32 local government council areas of Scotland. It lies in the north-east of the country, with a coastline on the Moray Firth, and borders the council areas of Aberdeenshire and Highland ( ...
,
Orkney Orkney (; sco, Orkney; on, Orkneyjar; nrn, Orknøjar), also known as the Orkney Islands, is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island A ...
,
RossRoss or ROSS may refer to: Astronomy * Ross (lunar crater) Ross is a Lunar craters, lunar impact crater that is located in the northwest part of the Mare Tranquillitatis. It was named after James Clark Ross (British explorer) and Frank E. Ross (A ...
and
St Andrews St Andrews ( la, S. Andrea(s); sco, Saunt Aundraes; gd, Cill Rìmhinn) is a town on the east coast of Fife Fife (, ; gd, Fìobha, ; sco, Fife) is a council area{{Unreferenced, date=May 2019, bot=noref (GreenC bot) A council area is o ...
and the mitred abbots of
Arbroath Arbroath () or Aberbrothock ( gd, Obar Bhrothaig ) is a former royal burgh A royal burgh was a type of Scottish burgh which had been founded by, or subsequently granted, a royal charter. Although abolished by law in 1975, the term is still u ...

Arbroath
,
Cambuskenneth
Cambuskenneth
,
Coupar Angus Coupar Angus (; Gaelic Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages are spoken in Ireland, Scotland, ...

Coupar Angus
,
Dunfermline Dunfermline (; sco, Dunfaurlin, gd, Dùn Phàrlain) is a town and former Royal Burgh, and parish, in Fife, Scotland, on high ground from the northern shore of the Firth of Forth. The town recorded a population of 50,380 in 2012, making it th ...

Dunfermline
,
Holyrood
Holyrood
,
Iona Iona ( gd, Ì Chaluim Chille (IPA: iːˈxaɫ̪ɯimˈçiʎə, sometimes simply ''Ì''; sco, Iona) is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the Ross of Mull on the western coast of Scotland. It is mainly known for Iona Abbey, though there a ...

Iona
,
Kelso
Kelso
,
Kilwinning Kilwinning (, sco, Kilwinnin; gd, Cill D’Fhinnein) is a town in North Ayrshire, Scotland. It is on the River Garnock, north of Irvine, North Ayrshire, Irvine, about south of Glasgow. It is known as "The Crossroads of Ayrshire". Kilwinning wa ...
,
Kinloss Kinloss may refer to: Places * Kinloss Township, a township in Walsh County, in the State of North Dakota, USA * Kinloss, Scotland, a village in Moray, Scotland * Huron-Kinloss, a township in Bruce County, in Ontario Province, Canada Instituti ...

Kinloss
,
Lindores Lindores Loch Lindores is a small village in Fife Fife (, ; gd, Fìobha, ; sco, Fife) is a council area, Historic counties of Scotland, historic county, registration county and lieutenancy areas of Scotland, lieutenancy area of Scotland. It ...
,
Paisley
Paisley
,
Melrose
Melrose
,
Scone A scone ( or ) is a baked good, usually made of either wheat or oatmeal with baking powder as a leavening agent, and baked on sheet pans. A scone is often slightly sweetened and occasionally Glaze (cooking technique), glazed with egg wash. The ...
, St Andrews Priory and
Sweetheart
Sweetheart
. After the reformation in 1559, the Scottish abbeys disappeared, although not overnight. Kelso and Lindores were closed quickly, while others, such as Sweetheart, survived well into the 17th century. Next, the bishops themselves were removed from the
Church of Scotland The Church of Scotland (CoS; sco, The Scots Kirk; gd, Eaglais na h-Alba), also known by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is the national National may refer to: Common uses * Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis ...

Church of Scotland
, as a result of the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
and the accession of
William of Orange
William of Orange
. When no members of the First Estate remained, the Second Estate was then split, to retain the division into three. From the 16th century, the ''second estate'' was reorganised by the selection of
Shire Commissioners thumbnail, Fletcher of Saltoun was elected in 1678 as a Commissioner for Haddingtonshire. A commissioner was a legislator appointed or elected to represent a royal burgh or Shires of Scotland, shire in the pre-Union Scottish Parliament and th ...
: this has been argued to have created a ''fourth estate''. During the 17th century, after the
Union of the Crowns The Union of the Crowns ( gd, Aonadh nan Crùintean; sco, Union o the Crouns) was the accession Accession refers to the general idea of joining or adding to. It may also refer to: *Accession (property law) * Accession, the act of joining a t ...
, a ''fifth estate'' of royal office holders (see
Lord High Commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland The Lord High Commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland was the monarch of Scotland's's personal representative to the Parliament of Scotland The Parliament of Scotland ( sco, Pairlament o Scotland; gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba) was the legi ...
) has also been identified. These latter identifications remain highly controversial among parliamentary historians. Regardless, the term used for the assembled members continued to be "the Three Estates". A ''
Shire Commissioner thumbnail, Fletcher of Saltoun was elected in 1678 as a Commissioner for Haddingtonshire. A commissioner was a legislator A legislator (or lawmaker) is a person who writes and passes laws, especially someone who is a member of a legis ...
'' was the closest equivalent of the
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
office of ''
Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) ...
'', namely a
commoner '' A commoner, also known as the ''common man'', ''commoners'', the ''common people'' or the ''masses'', was in earlier use an ordinary person in a community or nation who did not have any significant social status, especially one who was a memb ...
or member of the lower nobility. Because the parliament of Scotland was unicameral, all members sat in the same chamber, in contrast to the separate English
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
and
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpor ...
.


Origins

The Scottish parliament evolved during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
from the King's Council. It is perhaps first identifiable as a parliament in 1235, described as a "colloquium" and already with a political and judicial role. In 1296 we have the first mention of burgh representatives taking part in decision making.Bryant, Chris ''Parliament: The Biography'' Volume 1, chapter 10 ''Ane Auld Sang'' By the early 14th century, the attendance of knights and freeholders had become important, and
Robert the Bruce Robert I (11 July 1274 – 7 June 1329), popularly known as Robert the Bruce, was King of Scots The monarch of Scotland was the head of state of the Kingdom of Scotland. According to tradition, the first King of Scots was Kenneth I ...

Robert the Bruce
began regularly calling
burgh A burgh is an autonomous The federal subject The federal subjects of Russia, also referred to as the subjects of the Russian Federation (russian: субъекты Российской Федерации, subyekty Rossiyskoy Federatsii ...

burgh
commissioners to his Parliament. Consisting of ''The Three Estates'' – of
clerics Clergy are formal leaders within established religions. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's doctrines and practices. Some of the ter ...
, lay
tenants-in-chief In medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the ...
and burgh commissioners – sitting in a single chamber, the Scottish parliament acquired significant powers over particular issues. Most obviously it was needed for consent for taxation (although taxation was only raised irregularly in Scotland in the medieval period), but it also had a strong influence over justice, foreign policy, war, and all manner of other legislation, whether political,
ecclesiastical {{Short pages monitor