From customary to constitutional right: the right to petition in Scotland before the 1707 Act of Union

Bowie, K. (2018) From customary to constitutional right: the right to petition in Scotland before the 1707 Act of Union. Parliaments, Estates and Representation, 38(3), pp. 279-292. (doi: 10.1080/02606755.2018.1534728)

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The confirmation of a constitutional, rather than customary, right to petition the monarch in Scotland and England in 1689 has been recognized as an important precedent for modern constitutions, but the underlying forces impelling this historical transition have been less well recognized. The assertion of a constitutional right to petition the Scottish crown appeared after of decades of conflict over increasingly bold forms of collective political petitioning to crown and parliament. These innovations involved ordinary people in organized political protest, stimulating Scotland’s monarchs to block what they considered seditious and tumultuous activity. Standing laws against lese-majesté and unauthorized meetings were deployed to restrict petitioning, despite claims by Scottish dissidents for a customary liberty and natural right to petition. Within the composite British monarchy formed in 1603, England experienced similar but not identical conflicts over participative petitioning, leading revolutionary assemblies in both realms to demand in 1689 a right to supplicate the crown without fear of prosecution. Though Scotland’s monarchs still sought to discourage and evade unwelcome petitions, this new right allowed assertive political petitioning to crown and parliament to re-emerge in Scotland, contributing to the prominence of petitioning in British political culture after the Union of 1707.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bowie, Professor Karin
Authors: Bowie, K.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Journal Name:Parliaments, Estates and Representation
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1947-248X
Published Online:30 October 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 International Commission for the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions/Commission Internationale pour l’Histoire des Assemblées d’États
First Published:First published in Parliaments, Estates and Representation 38(3): 279-292
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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