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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).

Majeste(e, Mageste(e, n. Also: -tie, -ty(e; magist(i)e, -astie; madgesti; maist(i)e, maisstye. [ME. mageste (a 1300), maiesty (15th c.), F. majesté, L. mājestās.]The common abbreviations are matie and ma. No doubt many of the following examples represent editorial expansions of these.

1. The dignity or authority of a sovereign; sovereign power, sovereignty. Also transf.Also Hurt-majesté, Lese-majesté(1) 1375 Barb. i. 431.
Hys fadyr … wes agayne my [Edward I's] maieste
Ib. ix. 461.
Obeysit all till his [Bruce's] maieste
c 1400 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 51.
We beseke our soverayne lorde … that of his mychty majeste that he walde kepe us
?1438 Alex. ii. 2184. 1456 Hay II. 82/31. c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 733.
Prid thé nocht in thi royall maiestie
a1500 Henr. Fab. 936 (Bass.). a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 291. c1460 Regim. Princ. 212.
Gif the juge makis falt … Committand crime on to thi majeste
1483 Acts II. 164/1.
Tressonable crimys … aganis our souueran lordis maiestie & kinric
1497 Acta Conc. II. 82. a1500 Bk. Chess 249.
The wand … of iustice … Kepis a king his crovne of maieste
1526 Reg. Privy S. I. 530/2. c1540 Lynd. Syde Taillis 22.
Howbeit thay [queen or empress] vse sic grauite, Conformand to thare maieste
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. clxxiv. 52.
Our souerane lord to thus mater heff e For it pertinis to thi maiestie
1596 Dalr. I. 144/30.
Heireftir fel in questione, quha … war worthiest of that maiestie
Ib. II. 196/31.
The realme with weiris had beine vexte and had tint the maiestie and keppit gret skaith
(b) 1456 Hay I. 303/22. Ib. II. 22/6, 87/2, 99/26, etc.
Sa to reule his realme and his ryall magestee and estate
1470 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 30.
Ye hafe done nocht tharto … in gret lychtlying and contemnyng of our auctorite and mageste
(2) 1442 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 307.
Vnder al payne & charge ȝhe and thai may inryne anence owr maieste
1447 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 197; 1451 Maxwell Mem. I. 168.
Again oure maieste
1471 Acta Aud. 12/1. 1493 Crim. Trials I. i. 14. Etc. 1572 Bk. Univ. Kirk I. 251.(3) c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 2573.
Rome was nocht than in gret maiestie
1533 Bell. Livy II. 51/29, 30.
The consullis exhortit the senate to remember quhat maieste thai haue gottin fra thare progenitouris, and quhat maieste thai suld leif to thare barnis
1533 Boece vi. xv. 216.
It was euer familiare to the Romane maieste to spare thare subiectis
(4) transf. ?1438 Alex. ii. 2486.
Of lufe and of his maieste
1567 G. Ball. 78.
Christ come … full law Us to exalt in maiestie
1596 Dalr. II. 382/15.
To contemne the maiestie, diminise the authoritie of the Kirk

b. spec. The greatness and glory of God. 1375 Barb. i. 132.
But God … Reserwyt till his maieste For to knaw [etc.]
a1400 Leg. S. Prol. 131.
Quhen at He Suld sit in sege of maieste
c1420 Ratis R. 516. 1456 Hay I. 28/29. Ib. II. 41/14.
c1490 Irland Asl. MS. I. 48/23.
The diuine maieste of Jhesu
Ib. 91/9. Id. Mir. I. 120/12.
Lord of maieste
1513 Doug. x. Prol. 104. 1533 Gau 43/9.
Quhow the sone of God humilit hime of his hie maieste and come in the vardil
1567 G. Ball. 119.
Thy fais … Speikand contrair Thy godlie maiestie
1587-99 Hume 18/32.

c. The buke of Maiesté, the (Kingis, Scottis) Maiesté.The early Scottish legal compilation which opens with the words Regiam Majestatem (translated by Skene etc., The Kingis Majestie). Also appar. applied loosely to the Scottish ‘auld laws’ as a whole, which included the Regiam and other early legal treatises and collections of statutes such as the Leges Burgorum. 1501 Acta Conc. III. 37.
Be vertew of the lawis … contenit in the secund part of the buke of Maieste
1520 Fife Sheriff Ct. 201.
It is contenit in the Kingis maieste, as he allegeit, that [etc.]
1572–73 Canongate Ct. Bk. 434.
Na lyning aucht to be … becaus of the plane municypall law of this realme of the majestie. It is expressit in the borrow lawis that [etc.]
1622-6 Bisset II. 201/20.
The sea lawes … contened in the majestie
Ib. vii.
In the scottis maiestie

2. The personality of a sovereign, of God, or of a heathen deity. 1456 Hay II. 18/1.
The autour of this buke … makis supplicacioun to the magestee ryall
Ib. 22/23.
Gif ony man be aganis the magestee or othir lordis of the temporalitee
1513 Doug. x. Prol. 63.
Ilkane of tha thre … The sammyn thing is in a maieste
Ib. xii. iv. 104.
I twich thyr altaris … And testifyis ilk godly maieste
Arundel MS. 248/290.
I pray the maiestie of hevin … that thou keip my saule [etc.]

b. Chiefly, a complimentary title or mode of address used to or of a king or queen, also God.With the possessive, as ȝour, his, the Kingis etc. majeste. Before c 1560 uncommon in Scottish use as applied to the Scottish sovereign, the most common earlier style being henes (also grace). Very common from James VI's reign onwards.(1) 1424 Cambuskenneth Lett.
Ȝour hee exellent and redoubtit kyngis maieste
1483 Acta Conc. II. cxxxii.
That … his majeste suld caus our soverane lady [etc.]
1487 Acts II. 176/1. 1544 Bk. Carlaverock II. 29.
That I hayff fallyt in my lawteye to the kyngis maisstye
1549 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xxiv.
The King of Frances maieste
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3074, 3318, 3334. 1554 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xxxvi; 1559 Knox II. 46, 50.
(The Queen of England)
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xvi. 6.
Maryage … Betuix the Quenis maist nobill maiestie And the gritestȝoung prince in christintie
Id. Ib. xix. 22. 1561 Knox II. 278.
Pleise your Majestie [Mary], said he [Knox]
1562-3 Winȝet I. 13/24. 1565 Edinb. B. Rec. III. 200.
To pas to the King and Quenis maiesties
1566 Reg. Privy C. I. 488. 1567 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. lv. 1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 51.
Without consent of the Quenis maiestie of Ingland
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 160.
Anents the hambringing of the Quenis majestie furth of Ingland
a1578 Pitsc. I. 36/13, 108/18, etc. 1579 Reg. Privy C. III. 185. 1580 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I. 309. 1581 Digest Justiciary Proc. K. 19.
To be … inbrocht to his maiesteis vse
1583 Reg. Morton I. 137. 1588 Warrender P. (S.H.S.) II. 146. c1590 J. Stewart II. 225. § 102. 1600 Crim. Trials II. 198. 1605 Elphinstone Mem. II. 151. 1622-6 Bisset II. 180/23.
Lyke as his umquhyle maiesties corps … wes brocht [etc.]
1637 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 128.
To the breake of his maiesties peace
(b) 1521 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xv; 1545 Douglas Corr. 154.
I quhilk am onknawyn wyth his magestye [Henry VIII]
1567 Sc. Hist. Rev. XXXIV. 92 n.
Befoir our soueranes magesteis regent
c 1580 Maxwell Mem. II. 147.
The Kingis magastie
1591 Lennox Mun. 333.
Maister stabillar to his magistie
1663 M. Works Acc. Portf. vii.
His madgestis cashkeipper
(2) c1552 Lynd. Mon. 255.
I man beseik … His heich superexcellent majeste That [etc.]
1567 G. Ball. 99.
O Lord … quhen I pray vnto thy maiestie
c 1600 Memorial Conversion Lady Waristoun (1827) xxx.
Thy majesty

3. External splendour befitting a sovereign, magnificence, grandeur. Also in or at one's majesté. c1420 Wynt. iv. 2448.
Regnand in gret reawte, Honor, state and majesté
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 2475.
Than sat the king doun in his maiestie
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 514. a1500 Colk. Sow Proh. 2. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 4486.
Quhen ȝe ar all at ȝour maiestie With all ȝour meitis weill seruit at the tabill
1596 Dalr. I. 36/33.
Ȝiemen and housbandmen … weil arayed with maiestie and authoritie

b. Royal dignity of bearing, stateliness. ?1438 Alex. ii. 7088.
Thow sall se … The ferly fare maieste [F. la bele majeste] Of Ideas that is sa fre
1570 Sat. P. x. 23.
Twa graif lyke persounis of greit maiestie
c 1600 Memorial Conversion Lady Waristoun (1827) xxxii.
Such a majesty in her countenance and visage

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"Majeste n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Sep 2022 <>



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