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Boece's Chronicles (Bellenden Translation)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0103 MS ANGL 1
Held at: University College London
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Full title: Boece's Chronicles (Bellenden Translation)
Date(s): c1531
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 1 volume containing 331 leaves
Name of creator(s): Unknown


Administrative/Biographical history:

John Bellenden: born in the last decade of the 15th century; he is thought to have been brought up in Haddington or Berwick; matriculated as a student of St Andrew's University, 1508; proceeded from Scotland to Paris, and took the degree of DD at the Sorbonne; in Scotland during the reign of James V; brought over with him Hector Boece's Historia Scotorum (Paris, 1527) and, appointed by the king to translate it into the Scottish vernacular, embarked upon this project from 1530 to 1531-1532; delivered his translation to the king, 1533; the translation appeared in 1536, apparently semi-privately printed for the king and nobles and special friends; Bellenden added two poems of his own to the translation, one entitled 'The Proheme to the Cosmographe' and the other 'The Proheme of the History'; also translated Livy for the king; some enemies apparently caused Bellenden to be dismissed from the royal service; appointed archdeacon of Moray during the vacancy of the see, and about the same time canon of Ross; in the succeeding reign, being an adherent to Roman Catholicism, opposed the Reformation and fled overseas; some accounts state that he died at Rome in 1550, but Lord Dundrennan alleges that he was certainly still alive in 1587.

Hector Boece (or Boethius): born at Dundee, Scotland, c1465; historian and humanist; educated at Dundee and the University of Paris; a friend of Desiderius Erasmus; chief adviser to William Elphinstone, bishop of Aberdeen, in the foundation of the University of Aberdeen (King's College, Aberdeen); first Principal of the University; lectured on divinity; received a pension from the Scottish court, 1527-1534; a canon of Aberdeen; vicar of Tullynessle; later rector of Tyrie; author of the Latin history Scotorum historiae a prima gentis origine (The History and Chronicles of Scotland), 1527; the work, based on legendary sources, glorified the Scottish nation; the History had wide currency abroad in a French translation; Boece died, 1536.


Scope and content/abstract:

Manuscript volume, c1531, containing Hector Boece's Chronicles of Scotland, translated into Scots by John Bellenden.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
Scots dialect

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

Normal copyright restrictions apply.

Finding aids:

Dorothy K Coveney, A Descriptive Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Library of University College London (London, 1935); handlist at University College London Special Collections.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The volume bears the stamp of the Earl of Lauderdale. Inside the front cover is inscribed: Alexr Boswell 10 Jul 1753. Donum M Joannis Gordon de Buhtlaio Advocati.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Presented to University College London in 1912 by Lord Iveagh.

Allied Materials

Related material:

University College London Special Collections also holds a manuscript volume, 1600, containing a copy of the translation, into Scots, of Hector Boece's Chronicles of Scotland, continued by Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie (Ref: MS ANGL 2).

Leeds University, Brotherton Library, holds a manuscript of his 'discours Particulier D'escosse', 1559. The National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, holds his translation into Scots of Livy books 1-5 and of Hector Boece's Historia Scotorum (Ref: Adv MSS 18 3 12, 33 4 15).

Publication note:

Cf The Works of John Bellenden (Edinburgh, 1822); Raymond Wilson Chambers and Walter Warren Seton, 'Bellenden's Translation of the History of Hector Boece', Scottish Historical Review, xvii (Oct 1919), pp 5-15 (also published by Maclehose, Jackson & Co, Glasgow, 1919).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Encyclopaedia Britannica online; Dictionary of National Biography; National Register of Archives. Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Jul 2001

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