Lyndsay’s Meldrum, Hary’s Wallace, and the craft of history

Rhiannon Purdie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the unexpected use that Sir David Lyndsay makes of Hary’s Wallace (c. 1476-1478) in composing his mid-sixteenth-century chivalric biography The Historie and Testament of Squyer Meldrum. Lyndsay’s exploitation of the Wallace, including Wallace’s encounter with the Red Reiver, has hitherto gone almost unremarked thanks to a near-universal assumption that the Historie is entirely based on the true events of Meldrum’s life. This article argues that Lyndsay intended the original coterie audience for the Historie to spot these borrowings and digest the implications, not only for Meldrum’s own character and life-story, but more broadly for the nature of ‘historical’ writing and the powerful warping pressures of readers’ expectations and patrons’ desires.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-127
Number of pages23
JournalThe Mediaeval Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2021


  • Sir David Lyndsay
  • Squire Meldrum
  • Hary's Wallace
  • Chivalric biography
  • Red Heiver
  • Henrie Charteris
  • Walter Bower's Scotichronicon
  • Andrew of Wyntoun's Original Chronicle
  • John Major or Mair
  • William Stewart (poet)


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