Bernard (d.1333?) (DNB00)

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BERNARD (d. 1333?), Bishop of Sodor, was chancellor of Scotland during the greater part of the reign of Robert Bruce. According to Crawford, this Bernard is identical with Bernard de Linton, parson of Mordington, near Berwick, who swore fealty to Edward I in 1296 (Instrum. Publica, Bannatyne Club, 152). If this be so, the local surname seems to point to Linton in Roxburgh as the place of his birth or origin. Crawfurd also states that he was appointed chancellor of Scotland in 1307; but, in any case, he held this office the next year, as his name is found in this capacity on a document dated 31 Oct. 1308, witnessing the oath of fealty taken by Earl of Ross to Robert Bruce. Before many years he was appointed abbot of Arbroath—probably in 1311, but he may have been performing the duties of this office for some time previously, as his predecessor, John of Angus, had in 1309 been deprived of his preferment for some misconduct, the details of which we are not told. A certain provision was made for the degraded abbot out of the monastic estates; but he seems not to have been content with this, and to have been constantly alienating the estates of the abbey as though he were still abbot. About the same time he appears to have been a prisoner in the hands of the English, and letters are still extant written by Bernard disclaiming all John's acts, and arranging to pay ransom for him as a simple monk, and not at an abbot's value (Liber Aberbr. i. 279, 287, 288). Under the new abbot's rule, Arbroath soon became a favourite place for the holding of councils. It was here, and probably by Bernard's own hand, that the whole Scotch nation drew up its famous letter to John XXII, claiming its right to choose its own king, and declaring that even if he failed them—the Robert who was at once their Joshua and Maccabæus—yet they would elect another king of their own race rather than be subject to strangers. Meanwhile Bernard had been busy regulating the financial and other matters connected with the monastic estates; arrears were claimed from feudatories whose duties were clearly prescribed, money was borrowed, fresh buildings erected where necessary, and their occupants bound to keep them in repair; for all the business arrangements of the brotherhood seem to have gone to ruin in the years of disorder. Above all there appears to have been a great lack of ready money; but in raising it Bernard was careful to make precise though suitable terms with those in whose favour he granted concessions (Lib. Aberbr, i. 309). Besides the affairs of the kingdom and of his own monastery he was occupied with those of the church at large, In 1326 he was summoned by the abbot of Dunfermline to be present at the next general meeting of the Benedictine order for the province of Scotland. At some time, probably previous to this, and possibly, as has been suggested by Mr. Gordon, in 1312, he seems to have been sent on a mission to Norway, for letters are extant in which Robert Bruce grants special protection to Arbroath Abbey during its abbot's absence. In 1324 Bernard was elected bishop of Sodor. In 1328 William de Lamberton granted him a seven years' pension, secured on the church of Abemethy, in recompense for his seventeen years' abbacy and his labour and expenses in repairing the monastery. The same year there appears among the items of Robert de Peebles, chamberlain of Scotland, a sum of 100l., the king's gift towards the expenses of Bernard's election. The date of his death appears to be 1333 (Le Neve, Fasti Eccles. Anglic. ed. Hardy, iii. 324). Besides the practical business of his life, Bernard was not without some pretensions to literature. He wrote a poem in Latin hexameters celebrating the victory of Bannockburn, and is appealed to by Bower in the 'Scotichronicon' as his authority for the story of the mass performed before that battle, and Robert Bruce's speech to his men before the engagement. The general tone of Bruce's speech as reported by Bernard is not dissimilar to the warlike lyric of Burns on the subject, which we doubtless owe indirectly to Bernard through Bower. In connection with Bernard's visit to Norway it is perhaps worth mentioning that a Bernard Cancellarius was in 1281 sent by Alexander III to the same country for the purpose of negotiating the marriage of the king's daughter, Margaret, with Eric. But though it seems not to be an unexampled thing for an ecclesiastic to hold the chancellorship twice, there appears to be no authority for identifying two Bernards separated by so many years (see Acta Pari. Scot. 179,. and cf. 's Political Index, ii. 58, for Richard de Innerkeithing, chancellor of Scotland in 1231 and 1256).

[Crawfurd's Lives of Officers of Scottish Crown, 17; Liber de Aberbrothoc. vols. i. and ii.; Gordon's History of Church of Scotland, iii. 516, &c.; Spotiswoode (Bannatyne Club), i. 104; Acta Parl. Scot. i. 118, 122, &c.; Bower and Fordun's Scotichronicon, ii. 248, 249, 279; Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, i. 69, 114; and authorities cited above.]

T. A. A.