Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/39

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9
Introduction.

the death of David I. in 1153. Of subsequent years, down to his own death in 1387, he had collected very copious notes, which he left in the hands of Walter Bower or Bowmaker, Abbot of Inchcolm, intending him to bring the history to a conclusion. Other continuators took the work in hand during the fifteenth century ; but of course neither their work nor Bower's is of equal value to Fordun's original notes. Of the compilation known as the Scotichronicon, the first five books out of sixteen may be safely regarded as the writing of John of Fordun, and the Gesta Annalia as the notes which he left with Bower. These were carefully edited by the late Mr. W. F. Skerie, and form volumes i. and iv. of the Historians of Scotland series.[1]

In volumes ii., iii., and ix. of the same series is contained the metrical chronicle of Andrew of Wyntoun, a canon regular of the Priory of St. Andrews, who wrote simultaneously with Fordun, but quite independently, inasmuch as neither was aware of the other's labours.

Just as Dante departed from the usual practice of writers in his day, and, instead of Latin, the only recognised literary medium, used his native Tuscan, so Wyntoun, following the excellent example of Barbour, ventured to compose his poem in the vernacular. Unfortunately, in the same exasperating way in which Barbour excuses himself for not telling the manner in which Sir Andrew de Harcla was captured by Sir John de Soulis, so Wyntoun refrains

  1. Edinburgh, 1871-80.