Auld Alliance

Arms of Scotland
SCOTIA REGNUM cum insulis adjacentibus
The Auld Alliance (Scots for "Old Alliance"; French: Vieille Alliance; Scottish Gaelic: An Seann-chaidreachas) was an alliance made in 1295 between the kingdoms of Scotland and France. The alliance was formed for the purpose of controlling England's numerous invasions. The Scottish word auld, meaning old, has become a partly affectionate term for the long-lasting alliance between the two countries. It remained until the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh in 1560 that replaced the alliance with an Anglo-Scottish accord.

The alliance played a significant role in the relations between Scotland, France and England from its beginning in 1295 to the 1560. The alliance was renewed by all the French and Scottish monarchs of that period except Louis XI. By the late 14th century, the renewal occurred regardless of whether either kingdom was in a war with England at the time.

The alliance dates from the treaty signed by John Balliol and Philip IV of France in 1295 against Edward Longshanks. The terms of the treaty stipulated that if either country was attacked by England, the other country would invade English territory, as seen in the 1513 Battle of Flodden, where the Scots invaded England in response to the English's campaign against France. The alliance played an important role in conflicts between both countries and England, such as the Wars of Scottish Independence, the Hundred Years' War, the War of the League of Cambrai and the Rough Wooing.

The dynastic turmoil caused by the death of Scotland's seven-year-old queen, Margaret, left the covetous king Edward I of England with an irresistible opportunity to assert his authority over Scotland. By 1295 it was clear that Edward was on a course for total subjugation of Scotland. In response the Council of Twelve who had taken over the government of Scotland temporarily, sought alliances wherever they could be found. With France and England close to war following Philippe IV's declaration of England's possession of Gascony forfeit in 1293, alliance with France was a clear course to take. In October 1295, a Scottish embassy to Philippe agreed to the Treaty of Paris.

As with all subsequent renewals of what became the Auld Alliance, the treaty slightly favoured France more than Scotland. The French were required to do no more than continue their struggle against the English in Gascony. However, the cost of any outright war between Scotland and England was to be borne entirely by the Scots. Nevertheless, Scotland, as remote and impoverished as it was, was now aligned to a major European power. Even if more symbolic than actual, the benefits of the alliance mattered greatly to Scotland.

In the short term however, the treaty proved to have no protection against Edward, whose swift and devastating invasion of Scotland in 1296 all but eradicated its independence. Furthermore, the cessation of hostilities between England and France in 1299, followed by the treaty of "perpetual peace and friendship," allowed Edward to devote all of his attention and forces to attack the Scots. Scotland, in the end, owed its eventual survival to the military acumen and inspiration of Robert the Bruce and the mistakes of Edward II, rather than its Auld Alliance with France.

This page was last edited on 24 May 2018, at 18:11.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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