The Myth of the Alliance Between Charlemagne and the Ancient Scottish Kings


  • Elizabeth Bonner


For a thousand years prior to the eighteenth century belief in the alliancebetween the ancient Scottish kings and Charlemagne (742-814) was neverdoubted in Western European countries, especially by the English whospent those centuries from the Later Middle Ages at war with either or bothScotland and France. Indeed, the firmly held belief in the antiquity of thisalliance gradually gained importance as a tool of propaganda and was usedto strengthen French and Scottish documents of state, treaties and marriagecontracts between France and Scotland. However, to a greater or lesserdegree all historical phenomena have their realities and myths, their factsand fables which surround them and are inherent within them. But the ‘AuldAlliance’, as the Scots referred to their relationship with France, is morethan usually endowed with fable, whilst the facts have often been obscured,selectively refined, or omitted altogether. In the seventeenth century the French historiographer Godefroy1 was so inspired with the fabulous story ofthe alliance formed between ‘Achaius 65 Roy d’Escosse et Charlemagne’,2which he had chosen to include in his collection of royal treaties, that he searched the ancient annals of France and came to the conclusion that:

One has never found in any writings that the Scots wereever, or are, treasonous against the French but theyhave always remained loyal and faithful, giving them*