The ‘peoples address’ (otherwise referred to as the ‘racial address’ or the ‘nation address’) was an occasional feature of royal charters until the 1170s. The components vary, with English, French and Scots appearing frequently, Galwegians less so, and Welsh very rarely. The combination of peoples found in a charter has been explained in terms of the places mentioned in the document. This remains an important consideration in the reign of David I, although hitherto it has not accounted for all the evidence. In this article a fresh examination is made of the way different combinations of peoples appear in charter-addresses. It is argued that, with the exception of a few instances, mainly where the formula has been copied from an earlier charter relating to the same transaction, a pattern of development can be discerned: (i) in David I’s reign Scots are included not only if the charter relates to Scotland north of the Forth, but also if the charter was produced in the area north of the Lammermuirs; (ii) in the reign of Mael Coluim IV Scots became a general feature of the ‘peoples address’; and (iii) from 1161/2 Galwegians also become a general feature. The article concludes with some reflections on what this suggests about an emerging unification of the kingdom.


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pp. 206-232
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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