Home  »  Volume II: English THE END OF THE MIDDLE AGES  »  § 13. Gray’s Scalacronica

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

V. The Earliest Scottish Literature

§ 13. Gray’s Scalacronica

But the Scots of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries did not spend all their leisure in hearing and reading romances or the lives of saints. They had an equal, or, if we may judge from the number of extant manuscripts, a greater, interest in the chroniclers of the past. With the earliest of these and, in some respects, the most important of them we have but little to do, for they do not write in the Scottish tongue. Scalacronica was compiled in Norman-French by Sir Thomas Gray, of Heton in Northumberland, while a prisoner in the hands of the Scots at Edinburgh, in 1355. The valiant knight, ancestor of families still distinguished on the border, finding time hang heavy on his hands, put together from the best sources at his disposal a chronicle from the beginning of the world to his own time. For the period of the wars of independence it is a first-hand authority and, as the work of a man of affairs, whose “hands had often kept his head,” it has a value distinct from that of the monkish chronicles.