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Bishop Sinclair commissions John Blair

Bishop Sinclair commissions John Blair to write the Biography of Wallace
Illustration (c) Owain Kirby

William Wallace spent time at Dundee, being educated by one of his uncles, who was a priest. At this time he met John Blair, who was a benedictine monk. At some point in time Blair joined William as his personal Chaplain, and was at his side throughout the the remainder of William's campaigns to free Scotland.

John Blair retired to Dunfermline and there wrote a life of Wallace, having been commissioned to do this by Bishop Sinclair (d1337) of Dunkeld (the 'fechtin' Bishop'). This Latin book is now lost, though Blind Harry (1440 - 1493) claimed to have used it as a source when composing his epic poem 'Wallace' (wherein Blair is described fighting alongside Wallace).

Bishop Sinclair's would have wanted the Wallace story written down as powerful document which demonstrated the strength of Scotland's claims (for independence) which could then be presented to the Papal Court in Rome.

Given that Scottish books from even earlier periods have been apparently lost for centuries and then found again in recent times, the possiblity must exist that John Blair's book may yet make a reappearance. Elspeth King of the Smith art Gallery and Museum in Stirling wishes she 'had her life over again' so that she could spend it looking for this book in the Vatican archives and in similar collections elsewhere in Europe.

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