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John Barbour's Bruce, an account of the deeds of Robert I of Scotland (1306-29) and his companions during the so-called wars of independence between England and Scotland, is an important and complicated text.
Composed c.1375 during the reign of Robert's grandson, Robert II, the first Stewart king of Scotland (1371-90), the poem represents the earliest surviving complete literary work of any length produced in "Inglis" in late medieval Scotland, and is usually regarded as the starting point for any worthwhile discussion of the language and literature of Early Scots.
It has also been used as an essential "historical" source for the career and character of that iconic monarch Robert I.
But its narrative defies easy categorisation, and has been variously interpreted as a romance, a verse history, an epic or a chivalric biography. This collection re-assesses the form and purpose of Barbour's great poem.
It considers the poem from a variety of perspectives, re-examining the literary, historical, cultural and intellectual contexts in which it was produced, and offering important new insights. Steve Boardman is a Reader in History at the University of Edinburgh.
Susan Foran, currently an independent scholar, researches chivalry, war and the idea of nation in late medieval historical writing. Contributors: Steve Boardman, Dauvit Broun, Michael Brown, Susan Foran, Chris Given-Wilson, Theo van Heijnsbergen, Rhiannon Purdie, Bioern Tjallen, Diana B.
Tyson, Emily Wingfield.
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