Crowning the Child: Representing Authority in the Inaugurations and Coronations of Minors in Scotland, c.1214 to c.1567

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


When Andrea Thomas attempted a speculative reconstruction of James V’s coronation, which was held on Wednesday 21st September 1513, she stated: ‘...someone must have carried the baby king in his arms...’ and ‘...someone would have had to speak on his behalf...’ James V was an infant of under eighteen months when he was crowned and this was not an isolated incident in Scotland’s history from the thirteenth to sixteenth century. Between 1214 and 1567 fifteen monarchs were inaugurated or crowned in Scotland, of these ten were minors – three of whom were under two years of age. The inauguration of a monarch was a pivotal moment whereby a realm ‘accepted’ its new ruler. Yet how, and by whom, could royal authority have been projected when the individual being crowned was a child? It has been suggested that the frequency with which minorities occurred in Scotland stunted the ceremonial development of the coronation ceremony in Scotland. However, these infants were surrounded by adults who fully understood the magnitude of the event and who often had a vested interest in the way that the authority of the crown was visually represented to the kingdom. If anything, the fact that the monarch was a minor amplified the need for such representations. The other major issue faced in the study of the Scottish coronation is the lack of any extant order of ceremony as found elsewhere in medieval Europe (such as the Liber Regalis or Ordo of Charles V) until the seventeenth century when antiquarians began to copy no longer extant medieval documents, the most well known of these being penned at the behest of Charles I for his Scottish coronation in 1633. Through the analysis of wide range of sources this chapter illuminates the ceremonial development occurring and counter claims of the Scotland’s ceremonial immaturity through presenting preliminary findings on four of the minor kings: Alexander III (crowned 1249), David II (crowned 1331), James II (crowned 1437), and James VI (crowned post-Reformation in 1567).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Image and Perception of Monarchy in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
EditorsElena Woodacre, Sean McGlyn
Place of PublicationNewcastle
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)978-1443862066, 1-4438-6206-1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • medieval
  • early modern
  • chronicle
  • ceremony
  • Scotland


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