Saturday, October 23, 2010

Auld Alliance

John Balliol has come down in history as a puppet king of England's Edward I.  Little positive is said of his short reign (1292 - 1296).  Sir Walter Scott writes disparagingly of Balliol's recognition from King Edward: 'Upon examining the claims of the candidates, the right of succession to the throne of Scotland was found to lie chiefly betwixt Robert Bruce, the Lord of Annandale, and John Baliol, who was the Lord of Galloway. Both were great and powerful barons; both were of Norman descent, and had great estates in England as well as Scotland; lastly, both were descended from the Scottish royal family, and each by a daughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother of William the Lion. Edward, upon due consideration, declared Baliol to be King of Scotland, as being son of Margaret, the eldest of the two sisters. But he declared that the kingdom was always to be held under him as the Lord Paramount, or sovereign thereof. John Baliol closed the disgraceful scene by doing homage to the King of England, and acknowledging that he was his liege vassal and subject. This remarkable event took place on 20th November, 1292.

Soon after this remarkable, and to Scotland most shameful transaction, King Edward began to show to Baliol that it was not his purpose to be satisfied with a bare acknowledgment of his right of sovereignty, but that he was determined to exercise it with severity on every possible occasion. He did this, no doubt, on purpose to provoke the dependent King to some act of resistance, which should give him a pretext for depriving him of the kingdom altogether as a disobedient subject, and taking it under his own government in his usurped character of Lord Paramount.'
With all of Balliol's failings as a king, he can claim responsibility for one of the most important and enduring alliances in Scotland's history; the Auld Alliance with France.  In a treaty dated October 23, 1295, Balliol and Philip IV of France promised each other mutual aid against the English.  The agreement lasted 265 years, until the Treaty of Edinburgh (July 5, 1560).  As early as 1346, the Auld Alliance provided King David II a reason to invade England, which led to his capture at the Battle of Neville's Cross.   During this time, the treaty was invoked six times in military action against the British.

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