Holland, Sir Richard

(?1420-?1485)
   Nothing is known about the early life of this Scottish poet. He was secretary or chaplain to the earl of Moray (1450) and had some connection with the cathedral of Norway. The reign of James II of Scotland (1437-60) was a period of great upheaval, rivalry and struggle for power, and Holland supported the powerful Douglas clan. After the defeat of Arkinholm (now Langholm, Dumfriesshire) in 1455, which marked the fall of the Douglases, James, earl of Douglas, and his followers, including Holland, fled to England. James III promised a pardon to those who swore allegiance to him. Holland, however, sided with Edward IV in his attempt to rouse the Western Isles to resurrect Douglas power again. James banished him and he retired to Orkney and later to Shetland. His poem The Buke of the Howlat, written between 1442 and 1452, extending to 1001 lines, is a bird allegory and shows his devotion to the house of Douglas; he depicts his patrons, the earl and countess of Moray, as doves. Blind Harry (see Henry the Minstrel) refers to the poem and William Dunbar (see entry) names him in his Lament for the Makaris.
   Sources: Britain in Print: Henryson's Testament of Cresseid in Context, The Buke of the Howlat Discussed (http://www.britaininprint.net/learning/studytools_4.php) . Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 (http://www. columbiagrangers.org). The Oxford Book of Late Medieval Verse and Prose. Douglas Gray, ed. Clarendon Press, 1985. The Oxford Book of Scottish Verse, John MacQueen and Tom Scott, eds. Oxford University Press, 1966.

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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