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    The Scottish-French Auld Alliance in three books…


    To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf Harvest Books 1989

    To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf Harvest Books 1989

    ‘No going to the Lighthouse, James.’ he said, as he stood by the window, speaking awkwardly, but trying in deference to Mrs Ramsay to soften his voice into some semblance of geniality at least.

    Odious little man, thought Mrs Ramsay, why go on saying that.

    (To the Lighthouse – Chapter 2 -Virginia Woolf)

    Aubigny-sur-Nère coat of arms © 2010 Scotiana

    Aubigny-sur-Nère coat of arms © 2010 Scotiana


    Hi everybody,

    My doctor is not at all an “odious little man” like Charles Tansley in To the Lighthouse (my favourite book by Virginia Woolf)… he is on the contrary a very kind and competent gentleman but the verdict fell on me as an icy shower :   “No bagpipes for you this week-end, I’m afraid”.  How frustrating, just two days before we set off for Aubigny-sur-Nère to attend the Scottish French festivities on 14 and 15 July 2012. We were already waited at the very beautiful Aubigny campsite. So, here I am now, with no pictures and no stories to share with you about this event we had been expecting with so much anticipation…

    But Mrs Ramsay goes on  “Perhaps you will wake up and find the sun shining and the birds singing.’ she said compassionately, smoothing the little boy’s hair, for her husband, with his caustic saying that it would not be fine, had dashed his spirits she could see. This going to the Lighthouse was a passion of his…

    So, let us be patient for the sun will be shining soon and the birds singing …  Itinerary 7 is on its way 😉 and it may well pass by Aubigny !


    Aubigny-sur-Nère Stuarts Castle and Auld Alliance Memorial Scotiana 2010 © 2010 Scotiana

    Aubigny-sur-Nère Stuarts Castle and Auld Alliance Memorial Scotiana 2010 © 2010 Scotiana

    To help me resign to my fate I let my imaginary wander  about the cloudy area of Aubigny’s festivities… it finally stopped in front of the Auld Alliance Memorial…

    Then I tried to recollect my thoughts about this sacred and historical treaty and found that my knowledge was rather limited and had to be refreshed and completed. So I immediately looked at my book shelves to see if I had something about the subject.

    Of course I had 😉 and the books I did find in my library are all the more dear to me that they were offered by our Scottish friends… Iain & Margaret, Kevin & Simon, Jim…

    I’ve immediately put these books on my reading list which is growing dangerously but as I’m reading faster and faster in English all hopes are permitted…

    So, just a few words about these books to begin with…

    The Auld Alliance Hubert Fenwick Kineton The Roundwood Press1971

    The Auld Alliance Hubert Fenwick Kineton The Roundwood Press1971


    I’ve only read the beginning of this very interesting book which features on its cover a miniature-painting (from Catherine de Medicis Livre d’Heures) with François, Dauphin de France, and Mary, Queen of Scots. Below is a very important page:

    The first documentary evidence of a formal alliance is actually contained in the Treaty concluded between King John Balliol and Philippe le Bel, in 1295, which was ratified by King Robert the Bruce in 1326, and renewed by David II in 1359. As for the famous Garde Ecossaise, (Life-Guards of the Kings of France), that body was definitely in being in the early part of the Fifteenth century, after the battle of Verneuil, in 1424. Formed originally by Charles VII, it was strengthened by Louis XI, who made the Corps his bodyguard, though he wished it away in later years. This Scots Guard remained in being until the fall of the last Bourbon, Charles X, and amongst its duties was the burial of French monarchs, including that of the guillotined Louis XVI and his restored brother, Louis XVIII.

    Succeeding monarchs of the Royal Stewart line renewed the Auld Alliance as each came to the throne, and in 1512, the year before Flodden, it was formally strengthened still further. James V added a French marriage to the political union, espousing Madeleine de Valois, daughter of François 1er; and when she died he wed Mary of Guise, whose own daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, subsequently became Dauphine and Queen of France. However, the Reformation soon put paid to the ever-increasing movement towards a unitary state in Scotland and France, in 1560, under the aegis of John Knox and his patroness, Queen Elizabeth, whose ships entered the Firth of Forth in a show of force, the official Alliance was dissolved.

    In 1513 Louis XII granted French nationality to the whole Scottish nation, ‘Pour toute la nation d’Ecosse,’ as a document on display in the French Institute in Edinburgh in 1953 stated; and because of this and other generous gestures from France a visit to that country has special attractions for Scots. It not only emphasises sentimental attachments that linger on long long after the severing of political ties, but also reminds one of artistic and intellectual gifts, not to mention gastronomic novelties, received from our oldest allies. We shared and won battles together too. In the Cathedral of Orléans, for example, may be seen a plaque upon which is recorded the service of an officer in the historic Garde Ecossaise; while at Buzancy, near Soissons, the 1914-1918 village War Memorial is inscribed as follows:

    Ici fleurira toujours le glorieux Chardon d’Ecosse parmi les Roses de France.

    A gap of nearly six centuries divides these two tributes, but the bonds of friendship have clearly bridged the years undiminished.


    On our way north we’ll try to go up to Buzancy to take a picture of this sacred  monument 😉

    An Antidote to the English The Auld Alliance Norman Macdougall Tuckwell Press 2001

    An Antidote to the English The Auld Alliance Norman Macdougall Tuckwell Press 2001


    The cover illustration si a reproduction of a detail from ‘La Libération d’Orléans’ (1429), in Chroniques du temps de Charles VIII, by Jean Chartier.

    ‘Truly’, exclaimed Pope Martin V around Easter of 1421, ‘the Scots are an antidote to the English!’ The occasion of the pope’s remark was the arrival of the news of a great Franco-Scottish victory at Baugé in Anjou, in which John Stewart, earl of Buchan, had decisively defeated the English and killed their commander, Thomas duke of Clarence, brother of Henry V of England.

    The titles in the Scottish History Matters series provide balanced, judicious accounts of major events in Scottish history. Aimed at a general audience and invaluable for students, they combine a user-friendly approach with the best of contemporary scholarship.

    The ‘Auld Alliance’ originated as an offensive and defensive treaty made by John, King of Scots, and Philip IV of France, directed against Edward I of England, in 1295-6. Remarkably, this original treaty of Paris/Dunfermline was frequently renewed throughout the course of the next two-and-a-half centuries, becoming latterly a cornerstone of Scottish foreign policy. Combining narrative and analysis, this book covers the uncertain beginnings of the Alliance, moving on to the major military commitment of the Scots to the French side in the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) with England, the subsequent settlement of Scots in France in the fifteenth century, the close naval and military links between James IV and Louis XII of France in the early sixteenth century, and the climax and end of the Alliance following the marriage of Francis II of France to Mary, Queen of Scots (1558).

    Norman Macdougall is Senior Lecturer in Scottish History at the University of St Andrews. His previous publications include the highly successful James IV, and he is editor of the Stewart Dynasty in Scotland series.

    (An Antidote to the English  The Auld Alliance, 1295-1560 – Norman MacDougall – Scottish History Matters – Tuckwell Press 2001)

    The Auld Alliance Gordon Donaldson The Saltire Society 1985

    The Auld Alliance Gordon Donaldson The Saltire Society 1985

    No one who knows Scotland and its people and keeps his eyes and his ears open can fail to notice, here and there, visible and audible indications of certain affinities with France. The oldest tower of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the gatehouse tower of the Palace of Falkland both reproduced in sixteenth-century Scotland the characteristic features of many a modest French château. When Scots who still turn to their rich vernacular and use such an expressive phrase as ‘Dinna fash yoursel’ as a rebuke to needless irritation they are recalling the acquaintance of their ancestors, many centuries ago, with Frenchmen who used the verb se fâcher. Or when a twentieth-century Frenchman speaks of an assiette he is not likely to be understood by any Englishman who has not studied French, but he will be understood by Scots who still use an ashet.

    Such indications – and there are many more – of an ancient Franco-Scottish connection have their roots in a centuries-long association of the two peoples in a political and military alliance.

    But if you want to get a very lively version of this moving page of  Scottish-French history I recommend you to go and visit Aubigny-sur-Nère and its extraordinary Auld Alliance Museum.

    Aubigny-sur-Nère twin towns sign Haddington © 2010 Scotiana

    Aubigny-sur-Nère twin towns sign Haddington © 2010 Scotiana

    We’ll soon go back there ourselves 😉

    Aubigny-sur-Nère Museum of the Auld Alliance brochure

    Aubigny-sur-Nère Museum of the Auld Alliance brochure

    The brochure is quite well-done too and very interesting, one side in English and the other one in French 😉


     Aubigny-sur-Nère Auld Allinace Museum Treaty between Philippe le Bel and John Balliol © 2010 Scotiana

    Aubigny-sur-Nère Auld Allinace Museum Treaty between Philippe le Bel and John Balliol © 2010 Scotiana


    I remember our last visit there… feeling like a child turning the pages of a beautiful book of history full of illustrations,  historical costumes, reproductions of maps, letters or genealogical trees and there is also a very colourful and instructive display of tartan.

    Bonne lecture !

    A bientôt on Scotiana to follow our adventures in France and… in Scotland !!!



    Replica of a Scottish archer in Aubigny-sur-Nère City of the Stuarts  © 2010 Scotiana

    Replica of a Scottish archer in Aubigny-sur-Nère City of the Stuarts © 2010 Scotiana



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