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 .
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
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© Paul Halsall June 1998