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Medieval Sourcebook:
The Flores Historiarum:
On William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, c. 1307

[Colby Introduction]: The Flores Historiarum, once ascribed to Matthew of Westminster, is a patchwork of compilation and original composition which begins at the Creation and closes at 1327. Dr. Luard, its latest editor, believes that it was begun by John de Cella, twenty-first abbot of St. Alban's. He died in 1214 and the work was continued at St. Alban's till about 1265. Afterwards various monks of Westminster brought it to the accession of Edward III. One distinct section of the chronicle lies between the Battle of Evesham and the death of Edward I, and from the end of this part diatribes against Wallace and Bruce are quoted.

On William Wallace:

About the time of the festival of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a certain Scot, by name William Wallace, an outcast from pity, a robber, a sacrilegious man, an incendiary and a homicide, a man more cruel than the cruelty of Herod, and more insane than the fury of Nero. . . a man who burnt alive boys in schools and churches, in great numbers; who, when he had collected an army of Scots in the battle of Falkirk against the King of England, and had seen that he could not resist the powerful army of the king, said to the Scots, "Behold I have brought you into a ring, now carol and dance as well as you can," and so fled himself from the battle, leaving his people to be slain by the sword; he, I say, this man of Belial, after his innumerable wickednesses, was at last taken prisoner by the king's servants and brought to London, as the king ordained that he should be formally tried, and was on the eve of St. Bartholomew [23rd August, 1305] condemned by the nobles of the kingdom of England to a most cruel but amply deserved death. First of all, he was led through the streets of London, dragged at the tail of a horse, and dragged to a very high gallows, made on purpose for him, where he was hanged with a halter, then taken down half dead, after which his body was vivisected in a most cruel and torturous manner, and after he had expired, his body was divided into four quarters, and his head fixed on a stake and set on London Bridge. But his four quarters thus divided, were sent to the four quarters of Scotland. Behold the end of a merciless man whom his mercilessness brought to this end.

On Robert the Bruce:

After all these events had taken place, fresh disturbances and wars broke out in Scotland. For Robert Bruce, earl of Carrick, conferred at first secretly, and afterwards openly with some of the great nobles of Scotland, saying to them "You know that by the right of hereditary relationship this kingdom belongs to me, and how this nation intended to have crowned my father king, but the cunning of the king of England disappointed him of his desire. If, therefore, you will crown me king, I will fight your battles, and deliver this kingdom and this people from its slavery to the English." This, he said, and presently he received the consent of many perjured men. And when he asked if John Comyn, a very noble and powerful knight, whether he also agreed to this, he steadily replied that he did not. And he said, "All the nations know that the king of England has four times subdued our nation and country, and that we all, both knights and clergy, have sworn fealty and homage to him for the present and all future generations. Far be it from me to do this; I will never consent to this measure, that I may be free from perjury." Bruce persuades, Comyn dissuades; the one threatens, the other is perplexed; at last Bruce, drawing his sword, strikes the unarmed Comyn on the head. And when he had thrown him down, as he was striving to wrest the sword from the hands of his assassin (for he was a man of great personal strength), the servants of the traitor [i.e., Bruce] ran up and stabbed him with their swords. But the Lord John escaped as well as he could to the altar; and Robert pursued him, and, as he would not agree to his proposal, the wicked and inhuman man there sacrificed the pious victim. These things were done in the church of the Minor Brethren at Dumfries, on the 29th of January [1306].


From: Charles W. Colby, ed., Selections from the Sources of English History, B.C. 55 - A.D. 1832 (London: Longmans, Green, 1920), pp. 90-91.

Scanned in and modernized by Dr. Jerome S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall June 1998


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