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Oliver Brown
The Auld Alliance

Every year on the 8th May the town band plays in Orleans, "la Marche des Soldats de R. Bruce" and the programme records "Of Scottish Origin it was introduced into France in the XIVth century."

To this tune Burns wrote "Scots Wha Hae" on hearing of the fall of the Bastille which, as a civil servant, he dared not name. The same song was sung at the end of Chartist meetings in the 19th century. What other song has such a history?

Played at Bannockburn - played when Joan of Arc entered Orleans - the words inspired by the French Revolution - sung as the anthem of democracy in the 18th century, and still sung by Scottish Nationalists.

The manuscript according to the programme quoted was preserved in the Castle of Blois. There the librarian told me that the library had been divided between two Paris libraries. When I wrote to both neither had any trace of it. Where is it? Some research student at a Scottish university might find this a subject for a Ph. D.!

This is taken from Holinshed’s Chronicles:

"After this, in the month of September, he (the Duke of Bedford) layde his siege on the one side of the water of Loyre and besieged the town of Orleaunce, before whose coming the Bastard of Orleaunce and the Bishop of the Citie and a great number of Scottes, hering of the Erl’s intent, made divers fortifications about the town and destroyed the suburbes in which were Xii Parische Churches and foure orders of Friars. They cut also downe all the vines, trees and bushes within five leagues of the towne so that the English men should not have neyther comfort, refuge nor succour. The Bishop who out-Knoxed Knox was John Carmichael. Not one French historian noted that fact that the Scots under their Scottish Bishop and Dunois were responsible for the successful defence of Orleans against the English.

The influence of the Franco-Scottish Alliance has been underestimated by the Scots and has never been recognised in France, where the historians have been persistently anti-Scottish.

Incidentally, the same Charles at a time of crisis is reported to have entered a chapel and to have prayed to God to allow him to retire either to Spain or to Scotland, which had always been friends of the French Crown. He did not arrive but Charles X did. (He lived in Holyroodhouse.) This country also provided a refuge for his successor Louis Philippe, who took a new title of "King of the French" instead of King of France to show that he was "le Roi Citoyen". No one has pointed out that his title was the copy of the Scottish title with which he must have become familiar during his exile.

The decree by which Louis the Twelfth gave all Scots of whatever class the rights of French nationality refers to ten thousand Scots who fought for France as having "exposed their bodies against the English so boldly that they were driven out".

In other words it was our ancestors who won the Hundred Years’ War arid liberated the French from English domination.

The Post-Master General has refused my proposal for an Auld Alliance Stamp on the ground that Hume Brown did not regard 1168 as the beginning of it.

It is never wise to quote an author whom you have never read. Hume Brown, on Page 101 of volume 1 of his History, gives that date. So does Sir Robert Rait. So does Agnes Mure MacKenzie. So does Andrew Lang.

Mr Edward Short, the English Post-Master General, has all the Scottish historians against him!

His refusal is typical English arrogance.



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