Posted by: jim | March 21, 2009

History of the Auld Alliance

History of the Auld Alliance trophy

The special relationship between Scotland and France acknowledged in the phrase ‘The Auld Alliance’, was first agreed in 1295 and has formed a bond between the two nations that survives and grown.

Shakespeare’s ‘Henry V’ portrays the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 as one of England’s greatest military victories. For the French it was a disaster that led to the near collapse of their kingdom. In their darkest hour the Dauphin turned to the Scots for salvation. Between 1419 and 1424, 15,000 Scots left from the River Clyde to fight in France. The Scots continued to serve in France, aiding Joan of Arc in her famous relief of Orleans and many went on to form the Garde Écossais, the fiercely loyal bodyguard of the French Kings.

Many Scots settled in France although they continued to think of themselves as Scots. One such man was Beraud Stuart of Aubigny: a third-generation Scot immigrant, Captain of the Garde Écossais from 1493-1508, and hero of France’s Italian wars. To this day both he and other Scots heroes of the Auld Alliance are celebrated in Beraud’s home town of Aubigny-sur-Neve in an annual pageant.

It was at this time that the French coined a proverb: ‘fier comme un Ecossais’ – ‘proud as a Scotsman’.

The Auld Alliance wasn’t simply a military alliance, it was based on a long-established friendship founded on the Scots love of France’s national drink. French wine was landed on Wine Quay in Edinburgh and rolled up the streets to the merchants’ cellars behind the water

In 1942 the greatest Frenchman of the 20th century, General Charles de Gaulle, then leader of the Free French, visited Edinburgh and made a speech which he thought sufficiently important to quote in full in the first volume of his War Memoirs. He said: ‘I do not think that a Frenchman could have come to Scotland at any time without being sensible of a special emotion – awareness of the thousand links, still living and cherished, of the Franco – Scottish Alliance, the oldest alliance in the world, leaps to his mind’.

In October 2005 a new chapter in the Auld Alliance was opened.
This was borne through the number of Scots residing in the South of France, who had established golfing friendships in both Scotland and France in their working time abroad. A social meeting was arranged and it was agreed to have a one-off event of France versus Scotland, shoot out-in-the-sun and penciled for the following year. A cup was commissioned, an invitation to friends and colleagues, with golf handicaps ranging from single figure to 54 (maximum French allowance). The single criterion that had to be met, was that every invitee had to participate in the social and cultural events pre and post golf events.

The Auld Alliance was re-kindled.


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