Important acquisitions

The palis of honour

Author Douglas, Gavin
Title The palis of honour
Imprint London: William Copland
Date of Publication [1553]
Language Middle Scots
Notes This is a rare copy of the earliest known edition of one of Gavin Douglas's (1474-1522) best known works. The first Edinburgh edition was published in 1579. Other Scottish editions may have been printed prior to 1543, when Florence Wilson imitated the 'Palice of Honour' in his 'De Tranquillitate Animi', but they cannot now be traced. An article in the Transactions of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society, vol.III, part I, 1948-9, describes fragments of an Edinburgh edition printed prior to 1540 by Thomas Davidson (Aldis 20) which is held in Edinburgh University Library. This copy lacks the final two gatherings and contains contemporary scribbles, though not annotations. 'The palis (or palice) of honour' which was written in 1501 was dedicated by the poet, Gavin Douglas to James IV. It is his earliest known work and presents a mirror for princes, spelling out princely duties and ideals. This poem is very much in the European tradition of courtly allegory and reflects Douglas's knowledge of Latin and Italian poetry and his preoccupations with the themes of love, poetry and honour. It also shows influences of Chaucer and Langland. Around this time Douglas became Provost of the Collegiate Church of St. Giles in Edinburgh. It is not improbable that Douglas's address to James IV at the end of this poem induced the latter to appoint him to St. Giles. He held this position until 1515 when he became Bishop of Dunkeld. Douglas is best known for his translation of the Aeneid, also into Scots, which is still praised as an excellent work which shows the potential of the Scots language as a literary medium.
Shelfmark RB.m.517
Reference Sources Mainstream companion to Scottish literature; DNB
Acquired on 25/08/04
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