John of Ireland - Encyclopedia


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JOHN OF IRELAND (JOHANNIS DE IRLANDIA), (fl. 1480), Scottish writer, perhaps of Lowland origin, was resident for thirty years in Paris and later a professor of theology. He was confessor to James IV. and also to Louis XI. of France, and was rector of Yarrow (de Foresta) when he completed, at Edinburgh, the work on which rests his sole claim as a vernacular writer. This book, preserved in MS. in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh (MS. 18, 2, 8), and labelled "Johannis de Irlandia opera theologica," is a treatise in Scots on the wisdom and discipline necessary to a prince, especially intended for the use of the young James IV. The book is the earliest extant example of original Scots prose. It was still in MS. in 1910, but an edition was promised by the Scottish Text Society. In this book John refers to two other vernacular writings, one "of the commandementis and uthir thingis pretenand to the salvacioune of man," the other, "of the tabill of confessioune." No traces of these have been discovered. The author's name appears on the registers of the university of Paris and on the rolls of the Scottish parliaments, and he is referred to by the Scottish historians, Leslie and Dempster.

See the notices in John Lyden's Introduction to his edition of the Complaynt of Scotlande (1801), pp. 85 seq.; The Scottish Antiquary, xiii. 111-115 and xv. 1-14. Annotated extracts are given in Gregory Smith's Specimens of Middle Scots (1902).

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