General Council of Scotland
General Council in medieval Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 was a sister institution to parliament
Parliament of Scotland
The Parliament of Scotland, officially the Estates of Parliament, was the legislature of the Kingdom of Scotland. The unicameral parliament of Scotland is first found on record during the early 13th century, with the first meeting for which a primary source survives at...

 that existed between the late fourteenth century and the early sixteenth century. It has been argued to be almost indistinguishable from parliament, and has always been treated together with parliament by historians. The main difference was that it could be called with less than the statutory 40 days notice required for parliament and other courts, and, since it was not a court, did not have the final judicial capacity of the senior institution over issues such as forfeiture of life and property for treason. It could and did raise taxation and issued legislation just as important as parliament. In times of royal minority or incapacity it was often preferred to parliament (for instance the reigns of Robert II
Robert II of Scotland
Robert II became King of Scots in 1371 as the first monarch of the House of Stewart. He was the son of Walter Stewart, hereditary High Steward of Scotland and of Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert I and of his first wife Isabella of Mar...

, Robert III
Robert III of Scotland
Robert III was King of Scots from 1390 to his death. His given name was John Stewart, and he was known primarily as the Earl of Carrick before ascending the throne at age 53...

, the period of captivity of James I
James I of Scotland
James I, King of Scots , was the son of Robert III and Annabella Drummond. He was probably born in late July 1394 in Dunfermline as youngest of three sons...

 (1406 to 1424), and much of the long minority of James II
James II of Scotland
James II reigned as King of Scots from 1437 to his death.He was the son of James I, King of Scots, and Joan Beaufort...

 (1437 to 1445). In the reign of James III
James III of Scotland
James III was King of Scots from 1460 to 1488. James was an unpopular and ineffective monarch owing to an unwillingness to administer justice fairly, a policy of pursuing alliance with the Kingdom of England, and a disastrous relationship with nearly all his extended family.His reputation as the...

 it seems to have been largely abandoned, even in the minority period of 1466 to 1470 although this may be partly a side effect of its records being separated from the main register of parliament, and subsequently lost. General Councils finally ceased to be held at all in the reign of James IV, shortly before Conventions of Estates
Convention of Estates of Scotland
The Convention of Estates of Scotland sat between 16 March 1689 and 5 June 1689 to determine the settlement of the Scottish throne following the invasion of William, Prince of Orange...

began to be held.

Further reading

  • R. J. Tanner, The Late Medieval Scottish Parliament: Politics and the Three Estates, 1424-1488 (East Linton, 2000).
  • K. M. Brown and R. J. Tanner, The History of the Scottish Parliament, volume 1: Parliament and Politics in Scotland, 1235 to 1560 (Edinburgh, 2004)
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