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Praised by Dr Johnson and the later Hugh MacDiarmid as a ‘prince of poets’, George Buchanan (1506-1582) found time to re-write Scottish history, starting from the mythical Fergus Mór mac Eirc, legendary king of Dál Riata, and founder of Scotland.

George Buchanan, Rerum Scoticarum Historia.

Published in the year Buchanan died, Rerum Scoticarum Historia documented his thesis of a strong tradition of elective, constitutional monarchy in Scotland. He argued for limits on royal authority, and even set out to justify the deposition of Mary Queen of Scots, who was his pupil.

Buchanan, a native speaker who theorized that the Picts were an off-shoot of the Gauls, is often regarded as the father of Celtic Studies.

A translation by Robert Crawford of Buchanan’s Latin poetry appeared in 2006.

George Buchanan, Rerum Scoticarum Historia. Edinburgh: [George] Mosman, 1700.