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Clan MacLea - Livingstone

The Official Home of the Clan McLea (The ancient historical name of the Livingstones)

The Lion Rampant


Barons par le Grâce de Dieu

The Lord Lyon, Innes of Learney, in 1951 found that the

“The Coarbs.. .of St Moluag have come down through the centuries .. ‘acknowledging no earthly authority or hierarchy’. In my view …the Bachuil lands had no feudal superior in the Middle Ages …And the Baron of the Bachuil at first like certain old French barons, was in the nature of a ‘baron par le Grâce de Dieu’.”

In the "Robes of the Feudal Baronage of Scotland" (27th Oct 1945) Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. 79, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, then Lord Lion King of Arms, wrote:

“ The baronage is an order derived partly from the allodial system of territorial tribalism in which the patriarch held his country under God, and partly from the later feudal system - which we shall see was, in Western Europe anyway, itself a developed form of tribalism - in which the territory came to be held off and under the King in an organised parental realm.
“ It [Baron] is a title superior to 'miles' (Knight, in the feudal sense, which is to be distinguished from the later Eques Auratus), and whilst a baron usually held his baronial fief feudally, instances arise of Barons par le Grâce de Dieu - nobles who, of evident baronial status, held allodial fiefs, ie by ancestral family occupation, by no grant from, nor as vassals to, any Prince, in respect thereof.
“ Such considerations all bear out Craig's views that the title of Baron in Scotland was first applied to those who were Capitani Tribum, and that feudalism (or anyway an organisation which would now recognised as synonymous with it) existed in Scotland prior to the Norman conquest in England.”

The Scottish parliament was careful, in 1556, to remind the Crown and nation that the title King of Scots denoted that the sovereign was essentially, and at common law, a personal Ard-Righ, not territorially King of Scotland.

“The great antiquarian Niall Campbell, Duke of Argyll claimed that the Baron a Bachuil was ‘the oldest peer in the realm, being a Baron of the kingdom of the Scots of Dalriada’. The Livingstones of Callender, Edwin B Livingstone, Edinburgh University Press, p 417

In an article on Saint Maolrubha contributed to the Scottish Historical Review in April 1909 by the Reverend Archibald B. Scott, the writer in a foot- note says: 'The late Duke of Argyll long envied the Bachul. He used to address the holder of the relic, as " my Lord".'

Squirrel fur or vair, heraldically represented as blue and white "greys" was the fur associated with the allodial sire or "Baron par le Grâce de Dieu" . Thus the chapeau is furred vair to indicate the Barons of Bachuil are Barons par le Grâce de Dieu.

In Old Regime France, the term Prince could refer to a rank or a title. In the strictest sense the term prince implied a notion of sovereignty. It was a rank generally reserved to the princes du sang (Princes of the Blood), who were all in line to succeed to the throne. This concept sits easily with the Irish Scot concept of the "true family" or Derbhfine. This is why the old families made great use of the hand which was considered a symbol of the Derbhfine and made other allusions to their royal blood wherever possible - such as the Lion Rampant born in the arms.

" In some areas (especially in Brittany), the title of prince was traditionally attached to a feudal land which had been considered allodial, i.e., without overlord. In France, almost all lands were feudal, that is, held from some superior, ultimately back to the king. But there were a few allodial lands (allods were more common in northern Italy and in Germany). Such titles of “prince”, which appear in early charters, were considered by jurists to have no more meaning than the title of lord; there are dozens of examples.....Some families took upon themselves to change a title of lord into a title of prince (Condé, Conti).” http://www.heraldica.org/topics/france/frprince.htm

This article is of interest as it shows how those families who held lands “par le Grâce de Dieu” were able to assume any style or title they chose.

Last updated 20 April, 2013