The Stair Society: Scotland’s Legal History Society

The Scottish Translations of the Rôles d’Oléron: Edition and Commentary

Edda Frankot


The late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries witnessed an increase in the use of Scots as a language of the law. Evidence of this can be found in different types of sources. Charters and other legal documents show a growing use of Scots from the last quarter of the fourteenth century. In parliamentary legal proceedings, Scots was first recorded in 1390. In burgh court records, Scots also started to replace Latin, such as in the Aberdeen Council Registers in the second half of the fifteenth century.1 Legal treatises, too, were increasingly in Scots. The oldest known version in Scots of the Regiam Majestatem, for example, is found in the Auchinleck MS from around 1455.2 The earliest extant Scots translation of the Leges Burgorum is even older: from the third quarter of the fourteenth century. The Bute MS, which includes this translation, also contains the oldest known text of the Rôles d’Oléron in Scots. But, contrary to the history of the Leges Burgorum and Regiam Maiestatem, this text was translated from another vernacular language, French, and was only available in Scots in Scotland, at least as far as we are aware.


Miscellany VIII (Stair Society Volume 67)


Published 2020


pp. 13-56


Open Access DOI