Nevertheless, the significance of the present volume cannot be denied. It marks an important and fruitful reorientation of approach in Scottish medieval historiography. Sometimes, indeed, one wonders whether the revisionist card has not been overplayed. Barons and nobles may not be the irresponsible trouble-makers of earlier historiography; but they were not necessarily altruistic defenders of the institution of monarchy and of the 'community of the realm', at least at all times, either. The political career of Walter Comyn, earl of Menteith studied by Alan Young in the present volume suggests as much. Able and eloquent as is Mr. Young's explanation of the earl's behaviour-and the earl's political manoeuvres have a particular interest for Welsh readers since they led him to conclude an alliance with Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in 1258-it sometimes savours of an apology. Likewise, Norman Macdougall's detailed investigation of the growing tension between James III and the Hume family over the priory of Coldingham leaves one wondering whether the tenacious persistence of a baronial family or the high-handed insensitivity of a notoriously arbitrary ruler contributed the more to the crisis which terminated in the king's death in 1488. The truth seems to be that the chemistry of a contented political community depended both on aristocratic restraint and on royal sensitivity, for, as the authors of another essay in this collection remark, 'aristocratic and regional rivalries never lay far beneath the surface' and came quickly to that surface during a royal minority (as in the 1250s) or a prolonged period of political uncertainty (as from 1286 onwards). Other essays in the volume cluster around a number of major themes. The two contributions by Barbara Crawford examine the strains imposed on the political loyalties of the earls of Caithness in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and the earl of Orkney in the fifteenth century by their twin ties with the king of Norway, on the one hand, and the crown of Scotland, anxious to extend its control in the north, on the other. Two essays-the one by Geoffrey Stell, the other by Geoffrey Barrow and Ann Royan-focus on the attitudes of two major families (Balliol and Stewart respectively) in the face of the political dilemmas of the period after 1290. Neither essay adds substantially to the narrative of events; but both sharpen our perceptions of the situation facing individual magnates and thereby add to the texture of our understanding of the period. In his essay Geoffrey Stell is at pains to dispel the notion that there was a long rivalry between Balliol and Bruce; he is also anxious to emphasize the essentially English and even continental orientation and interests of the Balliol family (until at least 1233). This latter theme is pursued for an earlier period in two essays by Keith Stringer (whose key importance may be obscured by their austere titles) on the earldom of Huntingdon and an essay on the familia of Roger de Quincy, earl of Winchester. Some of this may take a long time to penetrate scholarly circles south of the border. But along with other recent work-such as Geoffrey Barrow's work on the Anglo-Norman colonization of Scotland, Keith Stringer's biography of David, earl of Huntingdon and Alexander Grant's key studies of the late medieval nobility-it shows that a rich new seam has been opened in Scottish historiography. And not in Scottish historiography alone, for the suggestions raised