On this day in 1295 the Auld Alliance was first signed between the kingdoms of Scotland and France. The purpose of the alliance was to ward against England's numerous invasions of both countries. The Scots word auld, meaning old, has become a partly affectionate term for the long-lasting association between the two countries. And although it was never actually officially revoked, it is considered by some to have ended with the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh in 1560.
Initially the alliance was signed by John Balliol and Philip IV of France in 1295 against Edward I of England after it became clear that Edward was bent on total subjugation of Scotland. The terms of the treaty stipulated that if either country were attacked by England, the other country would invade English territory. The immediate effect of this was however to provoke Edward into invading Scotland and the treaty proved to be of no effect as the Scottish army was comprehensively defeated at the First Battle of Dunbar and Balliol removed from the throne shortly afterwards. In the end, Scotland owed its eventual survival to the military acumen and inspiration of Robert the Bruce and the mistakes of Edward II, rather than to its bond with France.
In 1326, Robert the Bruce renewed the alliance with the Treaty of Corbeil and it would be renewed and put into action on many occasions after this as England fell in and out of conflict with the Scottish and French. The alliance would play an important role in the Wars of Scottish Independence, the Hundred Years' War, the War of the League of Cambrai and the Rough Wooing. The results were often disastrous for the Scots. For example David II’s botched invasion of England in 1346 led to his capture at the Battle of Neville Cross while James IV’s even worse defeat at the Battle of Flodden in 1513 resulted in his death.
The alliance effectively came to an end in 1560 with the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh which replaced it with a new Anglo-Scottish accord. Over the course of the 16th century Scotland had become an increasingly Protestant nation and the links with Catholic France had become less attractive. James VI, who would later become James I of England, came to the Scottish throne in 1567; his desire to form close ties with England meant that the alliance had outlived its usefulness and therefore the Auld Alliance was not renewed.
In a speech which he delivered in Edinburgh in June 1942, Charles de Gaulle described the alliance between Scotland and France as "the oldest alliance in the world". He also declared that:
"In every combat where for five centuries the destiny of France was at stake, there were always men of Scotland to fight side by side with men of France, and what Frenchmen feel is that no people has ever been more generous than yours with its friendship."
This scene was built by Dan Harris as part of a series of models on the Kings and Queens of Scotland. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
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