a1 University of Dundee
Divisions in the Scottish political community that were evident by the end of the reign of James VI have been posited as roots of the Scottish revolution of 1638 and the wars of the three kingdoms. This article argues that the disengagement of central government from the political nation at large was a key factor in this development. By demonstrating the frequency of conventions of the estates, it highlights the intensity of consultation in James's Scottish government before 1603. A sudden decline in their frequency thereafter was symptomatic of a wider failure of government to adapt to the absence of the king in the context of a composite monarchy. While correspondence between the king and the privy council was copious, communication between the council and the political elites of Scotland withered. Without conventions of the estates as a vital point of contact in which new policies could be tested and negotiated, parliaments became more disagreeable. The crown's reliance on unprecedented levels of management and increased central direction alienated a significant proportion of the political elite, driving them into the oppositional stance which endured through the reign of Charles I.
(Online publication May 11 2011)
* I should like to thank Julian Goodare, Pauline Croft, and the anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions on earlier drafts. I am also grateful to those who attended the conferences and seminars at which developing versions of this article were presented.