Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/38

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8
Introduction.

been checked at its source. On the completion of his work in 1377, Barbour, as shown by the Exchequer Rolls, received £10 by command of the King. Next year a pension of 20s. annually for ever, with power to assign, was awarded him for the compilation of the book of the "gestis" of Robert de Brus. In 1381 he had a gift from the Crown of the ward of a minor, a curious parallel to a similar gift made by the King of England to Chaucer in 1376. Again, in 1388, King Robert II. granted to the Archdeacon a pension of 10 yearly for life, though this probably was made in recognition of another poem, dealing with the House of Stuart, which has been lost. These substantial rewards might have been jeopardised by inconvenient candour on the part of the volunteer laureate.

The verdict, therefore, on the value of Barbour's poem, as a contribution to history, must be that it is worthless as a record of events which led to the War of Independence, but of great merit as a narrative of the events of that war and of the conduct and acts of those who took part in it, and that it vividly reflects the social state of Scotland in the fourteenth century.

The most important original writer, dealing with Scottish affairs in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, was undoubtedly John of Fordun, who compiled his Chronica Gentis Scotorum, commonly known as the Scotichronicon, in Latin, between the years 1384 and 1387 — from fifty-five to sixty years after the death of Robert I. With his own hand he is believed to have completed his chronicle down to