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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Hector Boece up for auction

1st July 2019

A copy of Hector Boece’s Scotorum historiae a prima gentis origine – believed to have been used by John Bellenden – is to be auctioned at Christie’s of London on 10 July.  Dundonian Hector Boece (c.1465-1536) studied at St Andrews before becoming a professor of philosophy at the University of Paris. In 1500 he returned to Scotland and became the first principal of the University of Aberdeen where he died in 1536. Boece published his Latin history of Scotland in 1527 and in 1536 James V commissioned a Scots translation by John Bellenden alias Ballantine under the title Chronikilis of Scotland.

The Latin copy now up for auction has extensive 16th century hand written notations some of which are believed to have been written by Bellenden’s assistant during the process of translating into Scots.  It is expected to realise between £25,000 and £35,000 at auction. Commenting on the significance of this work, Scots Language Centre Director Dr Michael Dempster said “It would be an absolute tragedy if it disappeared and was never seen again. It’s of national importance and international importance and I would hope that if it does go into private hands that they would think about making it available for research.” Dempster added that the translation commissioned by James V was “very much cutting edge and a leader in the fashion in what Renaissance princes were doing. Bellenden’s translation is an expression of the Scottish nation within a European context.”