Scotichronicon

Published in Features, Issue 6 (November/December 2013), Volume 21

The Remonstrance is preserved in manuscripts of Scotichronicon, a great survey of Scottish history that connects Ireland with Scotland’s struggle for independence. Scotichronicon also includes English and Scottish texts documenting the English crown’s attempt to create an insular empire. The text of the Remonstrance survives because of Scottish interest in its attack on English imperialism; Scotichronicon links it with texts emerging from early fourteenth-century Scottish conflicts with the expansionist English crown. Scotichronicon includes Edward I of England’s letter to Pope Boniface VIII (1301), claiming Scotland because Brutus, the Trojan founder of Britain, had given his son Albanactus ‘that part which was then called Albany . . . but now is called Scotland’. Edward claims that the Scots recognised Arthur and his successors as their overlords. The parallels with Gerald’s rehearsal of English claims to Ireland are striking. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the kings of Britain (1130s) is the source for Gerald’s and Edward I’s accounts of national origins and Arthur’s imperial rule. Both claimed English authority over Britain and Ireland on the basis of a translatio imperii, a transfer of power, from ancient British kings who enjoyed insular dominion according to Geoffrey’s History.
Scotichronicon quotes the Scottish response to Edward I. Even if the dubious Brutus story were trustworthy, Edward conceals ‘the true and full account’: the arrival of the Scots, ‘named after a certain Scota, daughter of Pharaoh king of Egypt’. Leaving Egypt, they occupied ‘Hibernia [Ireland] . . . so named after the river Hiber [Ebro] in Spain’ and ultimately Scotland. They ‘drove the Britons from Albany’ and power there ‘passed over to the Roman church . . . by divine disposition’, the Scottish people’s will and the Donation of Constantine. Arthur, but not his successors, subdued the Scots; Scottish kings did not recognise English suzerainty. Edward I and his armies assault Scotland ‘like savage tyrants’, killing and oppressing defenceless people and desecrating churches.

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