Skip to main content

Hector Boece, Hystory and croniklis of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1540?)

Whilst a standard form of English had developed in England from the 14th century, based on the dialects of London and the South East Midlands, in Scotland a related language had displaced Gaelic as the language of the elite. This Scottis (Scots) was based upon northern Anglian dialects spoken in those regions that once formed the kingdom of Northumbria. As can be seen in this printing from the 16th century, spelling and vocabulary differed noticeably from standard English. Hector Boece’s Latin Scotorum historiae was dedicated to James V, who, due to a defective education, was unable to read it and had this translation into the vernacular made. The work is an attempt to give an ancient pedigree to the kingdom and was highly popular in both languages, but is skewed by Boece’s desire to flatter his patron’s ancestors.