Parliament of Scotland
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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 (; , ) was a sovereign state in northwest Europe traditionally said to have been founded in 843. Its territories expanded and shrank, but it came to occupy the northern third of the island of Great Britain, sharing a An ...
from the 13th century until 1707. The parliament evolved during the early 13th century from the king's council of
bishop A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of Episcopal polity, authority and oversight in a religious institution. In Christianity, bishops are normally responsible for the governance of dioceses. The role or offic ...

bishop
s and
earl Earl () is a rank of the nobility in the United Kingdom. The title originates in the Old English word ''eorl'', meaning "a man of noble birth or rank". The word is cognate with the Old Norse, Scandinavian form ''jarl'', and meant "Germanic ch ...

earl
s, with the first identifiable parliament being held in 1235 during the reign of
Alexander II
Alexander II
, when it already possessed a political and judicial role. A
unicameral Unicameralism (from ''uni''- "one" + Latin ''camera'' "chamber") is a type of legislature, which consists of one house or assembly, that legislates and votes as one. Unicameral legislatures exist when there is no widely perceived need for multic ...
institution, for most of its existence the Parliament consisted of the three estates of
clergy 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 ...
,
nobility Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy (class), aristocracy. It is normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty. Nobility has often been an Estates of the realm, estate of the realm with many e ...
, and the
burgh A burgh is an Autonomy, autonomous municipal corporation in Scotland and Northern England, usually a city, town, or toun in Scots language, Scots. This type of administrative division existed from the 12th century, when David I of Scotland, Kin ...
s. By the 1690s it comprised the nobility, the
shire Shire is a traditional term for an administrative division of land in Great Britain and some other English-speaking countries such as Australia and New Zealand. It is generally synonymous with county. It was first used in Wessex from the beginn ...
s, the burghs, and various
officers of state
officers of state
. 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 (regiona ...
and played an important role in the administration of justice, foreign policy, war, and the passing of a broad range of
legislation Legislation is the process or result of enrolling, enacting, or promulgating laws by a legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign st ...
. Parliamentary business was also carried out by "sister" institutions, such as General Councils or Conventions of Estates, which could both carry out much business dealt with by parliament, but lacked the powers and ultimate authority of a full parliament.Brown and Tanner, ''History of the Scottish Parliament'', i, Introduction The Parliament of Scotland was
adjourned In parliamentary procedure, an adjournment ends a Meeting (parliamentary procedure), meeting. It could be done using a Motion (parliamentary procedure), motion to adjourn. A time for another meeting could be set using the motion to fix the time ...
and dissolved in 1707 following the
ratification Ratification is a principal (commercial law), principal's approval of an act of its law of agency, agent that lacked the authority to bind the principal legally. Ratification defines the international act in which a state indicates its consent to ...

ratification
of the
Treaty of Union The Treaty of Union is the name usually now given to the treaty which led to the creation of the new state of kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain, stating that the Kingdom of England (which already included Wales) and the Kingdom of Sco ...

Treaty of Union
between Scotland and
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...

England
. With the creation of the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain (officially Great Britain) was a Sovereign state, sovereign country in Western Europe from 1 May 1707 to the end of 31 December 1800. The state was created by the 1706 Treaty of Union and ratified by the Acts of ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
on 1 May 1707, the parliaments of Scotland and England were succeeded by the new
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts ratified the treaty of Union which created a new unified Kin ...
. Under the
Acts of Union 1800 The Acts of Union 1800 (sometimes incorrectly referred to as a single 'Act of Union 1801') were parallel acts of the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland which united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Irela ...
, the parliaments of Great Britain and
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
merged to become the
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It meets at the Palace of We ...
. Long portrayed as a constitutionally defective body that acted merely as a
rubber stamp A rubber stamp is an image or pattern that has been carved, molded, laser engraving, laser engraved or Vulcanization, vulcanized onto a sheet of rubber. Rubber stamping, also called stamping, is a craft in which some type of ink made of dye or ...
for royal decisions, modern research has found that the Parliament of Scotland played an active role in Scottish affairs, and often limited the power 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 Minister (Christianity), Christian clergy who is an Ordinary (church officer), ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin , the past participle of , which me ...
s (
archbishop In Christian denominations, an archbishop is a bishop of higher rank or office. In most cases, such as the Catholic Church, there are many archbishops who either have jurisdiction over an ecclesiastical province in addition to their own arc ...
s,
bishop A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of Episcopal polity, authority and oversight in a religious institution. In Christianity, bishops are normally responsible for the governance of dioceses. The role or offic ...

bishop
s,
abbot ''Abbot'' is an ecclesiastical title given to the male head of a monastery in various Western religious traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not the head of a monastery. The ...

abbot
s, and other senior clerics) * the ''second estate'' of the
nobility Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy (class), aristocracy. It is normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty. Nobility has often been an Estates of the realm, estate of the realm with many e ...
(
duke Duke is a male title either of a monarch ruling over a duchy, or of a member of royalty, or nobility Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy (class), aristocracy. It is normally ranked immediately ...

duke
s,
marquess A marquess (; french: marquis ), es, marqués, pt, marquês. is a nobleman of high hereditary rank in various European peerages and in those of some of their former colonies. The German language equivalent is Markgraf (margrave). A woman ...
es,
earl Earl () is a rank of the nobility in the United Kingdom. The title originates in the Old English word ''eorl'', meaning "a man of noble birth or rank". The word is cognate with the Old Norse, Scandinavian form ''jarl'', and meant "Germanic ch ...

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 ...
s, lords of parliament and lay
tenants-in-chief In Middle Ages, medieval and early modern Europe, the term ''tenant-in-chief'' (or ''vassal-in-chief'') denoted a person who held his lands under various forms of feudal land tenure directly from the king or territorial prince to whom he did Hom ...
) * the ''third estate'' of burgh commissioners (representatives chosen by the
royal burghs 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 used by many former royal burghs. Most royal burghs were either created by ...
) The ''first estate'' comprised the archbishops of
St Andrews St Andrews ( la, S. Andrea(s); sco, Saunt Aundraes; gd, Cill Rìmhinn) is a town on the east coast of Fife in Scotland, southeast of Dundee and northeast of Edinburgh. St Andrews had a recorded population of 16,800 , making it Fife's fourt ...
and
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesca or ; gd, Glaschu ) is the most populous city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ' ...
, the bishops of
Aberdeen Aberdeen (; sco, Aiberdeen ; gd, Obar Dheathain ; la, Aberdonia) is a city in North East Scotland, and is the List of towns and cities in Scotland by population, third most populous city in the country. Aberdeen is one of Scotland's 32 Loc ...
,
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 t ...
,
Brechin Brechin (; gd, Breichin) is a city 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 Shires of Scotland, historic county, registration county and Lieutenancy areas of Scotland, lieutenancy area of Scotland. Caithness has a land boundary with the historic county of ...
, Dunblane,
Dunkeld Dunkeld (, sco, Dunkell, from gd, Dùn Chailleann, "fort of the Caledonians") is a town in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. The location of a historic cathedral, it lies on the north bank of the River Tay, opposite Birnam, Perth and Kinross, Birna ...
,
Edinburgh Edinburgh ( ; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian (interchangeably Edinburghshire before 1921), it is located in Lothian ...
(1633-38 & 1662-1690),
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 ...
, Isles,
Moray 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 (council area), ...
,
Orkney Orkney (; sco, Orkney; on, Orkneyjar; nrn, Orknøjar), also known as the Orkney Islands, is an archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland, situated off the north coast of the island of Great Britain. Orkney is 10 miles (16 km) north ...
and Ross and, at different periods, various
abbot ''Abbot'' is an ecclesiastical title given to the male head of a monastery in various Western religious traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not the head of a monastery. The ...

abbot
s,
prior Prior (or prioress) is an Ecclesiology, ecclesiastical Title#Ecclesiastical titles (Christian), title for a Superior (hierarchy), superior in some religious orders. The word is derived from the Latin for "earlier" or "first". Its earlier gene ...
s,
archdeacon An archdeacon is a senior clergy position in the Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, St Thomas Christians, Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Orthodox churches and some other Christian denomina ...
s, and deans. After the reformation in 1559, the Scottish abbeys and priories 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 ( sco, The Kirk o Scotland; gd, Eaglais na h-Alba) is the national church in Scotland. The Church of Scotland was principally shaped by John Knox, in the Scottish Reformation, Reformation of 1560, when it split from t ...

Church of Scotland
, as a result of the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus , also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or ''Glorious Crossing'' in the Netherlands, is the sequence of events leading to the deposition of King James II and ...
and the accession of
William II
William II
. 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: 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 of James VI of Scotland to the throne of the Kingdom of England as James I and the practical unification of some functions (such as overseas dipl ...
, a ''fifth estate'' of officers of state (see Lord High Commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland) 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'' was the closest equivalent of the
English
English
office of ''
Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative in parliament of the people who live in their electoral district. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, this term refers only to members of the lower house since upper house members o ...
'', 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 a member of neither ...
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, also known as the House of Peers, is the Bicameralism, upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by Life peer, appointment, Hereditary peer, heredity or Lords Spiritual, official function. Like the ...
and
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. T ...
.


Origins

The Scottish parliament evolved during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
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 (Scottish Gaelic: ''Raibeart an Bruis''), was King of Scots from 1306 to his death in 1329. One of the most renowned warriors of his generation, Robert eventuall ...
began regularly calling
burgh A burgh is an Autonomy, autonomous municipal corporation in Scotland and Northern England, usually a city, town, or toun in Scots language, Scots. This type of administrative division existed from the 12th century, when David I of Scotland, Kin ...
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 Middle Ages, medieval and early modern Europe, the term ''tenant-in-chief'' (or ''vassal-in-chief'') denoted a person who held his lands under various forms of feudal land tenure directly from the king or territorial prince to whom he did Hom ...
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