The Auld Alliance (Scots) (French: Vieille Alliance) was an alliance between the kingdoms of Scotland and France. It played a significant role in the relations between Scotland, France and England from its beginning in 1295 until the 1560 Treaty of Edinburgh. The alliance was renewed by all the French and Scottish monarchs of that period except for Louis XI. By the late 14th century, the renewal occurred regardless of whether either kingdom was involved in a conflict with England.
The alliance dates from the treaty signed by John Balliol and Philip IV of France in 1295 against Edward I of England. The terms of the treaty stipulated that if either country was attacked by England, the other country would invade English territory, as became evident at the Battle of Flodden Field, 1513. 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.
French and Scottish forces together won against the English at the Battle of Baugé in 1421. As it marked the turning point of the Hundred Years War, the significance of this battle was great. However, their victory was a short-lived one: at Verneuil in 1424, the Scots army was defeated. Despite this defeat, the Scots had given France a valuable breathing space, effectively saving the country from English domination.
In addition, in 1429 Scots came to the aid of Joan of Arc in her famous relief of Orléans. Scottish soldiers also served in the Garde Écossaise, the loyal bodyguard of the French monarchy. Many Scottish mercenaries chose to settle in France. Some were granted lands and titles in France. In the 15th and 16th centuries, they became naturalised French subjects.
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.
In 1995, celebrations were held in both countries for the 700th anniversary of the beginning of the alliance.
In 2011, British historian Dr Siobhan Talbott published the result of her research on this matter and concluded accordingly that the Auld Alliance is actually unrevoked after all.