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Franco-Scottish alliance

Franco-Scottish alliance. Also known as the Auld Alliance. An offensive and defensive alliance, aimed at crippling England's attempts to conquer Scotland or France by threatening war on two fronts. First agreed at Paris in 1295, the Franco-Scottish alliance was renewed periodically until renounced by Scotland in 1560.

At its zenith in the 14th cent., after renewal by Robert I at Corbeil (1326), the alliance was an essential element in Scotland's success in the Wars of Independence, and was continued in 1371 and 1391. The Hundred Years War (1337–1453) emphasized the alliance's strengths as successive English kings found they could not conquer France without defeating Scotland.

The alliance remained an effective way of pressurizing England in the 15th cent., and was reaffirmed in 1428 and 1448. However, Louis XI of France's treaty with England, ignoring Scotland (1463), and James III's alliance with England (1474), illustrated changing Franco-Scottish relations. The alliance was renewed in 1484, 1492, and 1512, although neither nation intended to implement it actively. However, when Henry VIII attacked France (1513), James IV decided to abide by the alliance, resulting in disastrous defeat at Flodden.

The 16th cent. saw Scotland at the whim of swiftly changing European diplomacy. Alternately courted and abandoned by France, the Scots were reluctant to repeat Flodden on their ally's behalf. With the advent of the Reformation, many now favoured protestant England. The alliance was renewed by marriage arrangements for James V (1537) and Mary, queen of Scots (1548), but Scotland's refusal to be exploited by France was eventually reflected in the revolution of 1559–60 which saw England embraced, and the Franco-Scottish alliance finally renounced.

Roland Tanner

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