John of Fordun (before 1360 – c. 1384) was a Scottish chronicler. It
is generally stated that he was born at Fordoun, Mearns. It is certain
that he was a secular priest, and that he composed his history in the
latter part of the 14th century; and it is probable that he was a
chaplain in the
St Machar's Cathedral
St Machar's Cathedral of Aberdeen.
The work of Fordun is the earliest attempt to write a continuous
history of Scotland. We are informed that Fordun's patriotic zeal was
roused by the removal or destruction of many national records by
Edward III of England
Edward III of England and that he traveled in England and Ireland,
collecting material for his history.
Collectively, this work, divided into five books, is known as the
Chronica Gentis Scotorum. The first three are unverified historically,
which therefore casts doubt on their accuracy, yet they also form the
groundwork on which
Boece and George Buchanan afterwards based some of
their historical writings. Thomas
Innes argued that some of the
history these men presented was doubtful in his Critical Essay (i,
pp. 201–2,4), but
Innes himself had his own political agenda
and his work has also been criticized by modern historians. The 4th
and 5th books contain much valuable information, and become more
authentic the more nearly they approach the author's own time. The 5th
book concludes with the death of King David I in 1153.
Besides these five books, published around 1360, Fordun also wrote
part of another book, and collected materials for bringing down the
history to a later period. These materials were used by a continuator
who wrote in the middle of the 15th century, and who is identified
with Walter Bower, abbot of the monastery of Inchcolm. The additions
of Bower form eleven books, and bring down the narrative to the death
of King James I in 1437. According to the custom of the time, the
continuator did not hesitate to interpolate Fordun's portion of the
work, with additions of his own, and the whole history thus compiled
is known as the Scotichronicon.
The first printed edition of Fordun's work was that of
Thomas Gale in
his Scriptores quindecim (vol. iii), which was published in 1691. This
was followed by Thomas Hearne's (5 vol.) edition in 1722. The whole
work, including Bower's continuation, was published by Walter Goodall
Edinburgh in 1759. In 1871 and 1872 Fordun's chronicle, in the
Latin and in an English translation, was edited by William F
Skene in The Historians of Scotland. The preface to this edition
collects all the biographical details and gives full references to
manuscripts and editions.
^ a b William Ferguson, The identity of the Scottish nation: an
Edinburgh University Press, 1998,
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Fordun, John of".
Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain: Cousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical
Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons.
For further discussion of the political motivations which may have
influenced the approach taken in the Chronica Gentis Scotorum,
see : Goldstein, J. The Matter of Scotland: Historical Narrative
Scotland University of Nebraska Press (1993); esp. Chapter
Skene, Felix James Henry; Skene, William Forbes (1872), John of
Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation, Edinburgh: Edmonston and
Douglas, retrieved 2008-08-09
ISNI: 0000 0000 7141 3815
BNF: cb12429538s (data)