The 'Auld Alliance' and the Betrothal of Mary Queen of Scots: Fact and Fablel


  • Elizabeth Bonner


Mary Queen of Scots


On the 23 October 1995, 700 years had elapsed since the Scots signed

their first formal alliance with France. The origins of the Anglo-FrancoScottish

relationship were established in 1295 when the Scots formed the first

defensive/offensive alliance with France against England, in order to curtail

the incursions and hegemonic ambitions of the English king, Edward I

'Auld Alliance',2 as the Scots referred to their relationship with France, was

signed by every Scottish and French monarch (with the exception of Louis XI)

from 1295 to the mid-sixteenth century. But by this time fact had become

enmeshed with the fable of the ancient Scottish kings, engendered by early

Scottish historians. The fabulous story of the Scottish alliance with

Charlemagne was shown to be without foundation in the eighteenth century by

Father Thomas Innes, but in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Scots

firmly believed in the antiquity of their alliance with Charlemagne. This

belief was also readily accepted by the French and was used in preambles of

documents of state, or as a justification for action, in a number of not only

sixteenth-century French documents, but also in Scottish ones.