Tuesday, 29 July 2014

444. The Auld Alliance.

  I have just acquired from Bellastreasure on an Internet auction site another interesting item to add to my small collection of Scottish nationalist labels which have been issued in the past and which the popular press, at the time of issue, called "stamps". I am putting together a relatively inexpensive little collection in anticipation of a "Yes" result in the upcoming Scottish national referendum on Independence as a small preamble to any future collection of independent Scottish postage stamps in the full knowledge of course that they had no postal validity but as a reflection of the thinking of some of the people of Scotland in the years leading up to the referendum and to illustrate the continuing propaganda value of stamps.
  In Blog 406 I illustrated a couple of Scottish nationalist labels which featured Robert Burns and the Scottish Assembly and here I illustrate the latest additions to my collection which were produced in 1968 to commemorate the 800th anniversary of "The Auld Alliance" which allied Scotland and France against their common enemy - England. A newspaper cutting from 1968 accompanied my purchase and this told the story of this "stamp" issue. 
  The label was produced as a "patriotic postal protest" by the Scottish Philatelic Secretariat after the British Post Office had declined to issue a set of stamps for this particular anniversary and a spokesman for the Secretariat said that the "stamp" " should be the foundation for a Scottish Post Office and for a Scottish Ministery of Foreign Affairs" He added that "It was a starting point for an independent line - for IDU ... an Independent Declaration of Union with France". So, interestingly, this issue was in part to promote union with France as well as the establishment of an independent state which seem to be mutually exclusive goals. 
  The labels, designed by Stuart MacKenzie, were printed in sheets of 12 and had the face value of ane (1) bawbee (equivalent to one halfpenny). In all 120,000 labels were produced. The designs feature various French and Scottish flags - the Tricoleur, the Fleur-de-lys, the rampant Lion and St. Andrew's Saltire:-

  The main reason for the Post Office's decision not to issue any stamps on the subject, given in a response to questions in The House Of Commons by the then British Post-Master General, Edward Short, was that the exact date of the beginning of the Auld Alliance was in dispute among historians. The label produced by the Scottish Philatelic Secretariat dated the start of the Auld Alliance to the alliance agreed by King William (I) The Lion of Scotland and King Louis VII of France in opposition to the English king, Henry II. I do not think that either of the two allies have been featured on stamps but Henry II makes an appearance on a stamp issued by Barbuda on 15 April 1970:-

  But Edward Short stated in Parliament that some Scottish historians dated the alliance to 1295 when the Scottish king, John Balliol, and King Philipe IV of France signed a treaty against Edward I of England which stipulated that if either France or Scotland were attacked by England then the other would invade English territory. Edward I also appears on a stamp of the Barbuda Kings and Queens set which was issued on 15 June 1970:-

   Two hundred years  later, despite signing the Treaty of Perpetual Peace with Henry VII of England in 1502,  James IV of Scotland maintained his alliance with France and when war between England and France broke out and Henry VIII attacked France in 1513, King James IV stood by his Auld ally and invaded Northumbria with disastrous consequences - his army was destroyed at the Battle of Flodden Field and he himself was killed.

James IV of Scotland.
     As a result of his father's early death, James V was only 17 months old when he became King of Scotland. By the Treaty of Rouen of 1517, James V was to have a French wife if the Auld Alliance were maintained and in 1537 he married Madeleine of Bourbon and renewed the Auld Alliance. However the consumptive Madeleine died when the couple returned to Scotland from France and James then married Mary of Guise. Their 2 sons both died and so the only heir to the Scots throne was their daughter, Mary, who was born in 1542.
  In the same year, England and Scotland went to war again and on 24 November 1542 the Scots were heavily defeated at the Battle of Solway Moss and James died shortly afterwards. Mary, his daughter, was only 6 days old when her father died. She spent most of her childhood in France and eventually married the Dauphin who became King Francis II.

James V of Scotland.

   Unfortunately for Mary, Francis died shortly after becoming king and she returned to Scotland where she led an eventful life and was eventually forced to abdicate and flee to England where the government of her cousin, Elizabeth I,  put her under effective house arrest for about 19 years. She became involved in Catholic plots which threatened Elizabeth for which she was brought to trial in 1587 and subsequently beheaded.

Mary Queen Of Scots.

   When Mary abdicated in Scotland, her infant son,  James VI, was placed on the throne and had a strongly Protestant upbringing in contrast to his profoundly Catholic mother. Queen Elizabeth I remained unmarried and childless and when she died in 1603,  James VI became King James I of England and went on to unite the Scottish and English thrones. Looking back, it seems surprising Scotsmen such as the Scottish Philatelic Secretariat ever felt that the Auld Alliance was such a marvellous entity to commemorate - it seems to have been the ruin of at least 3 Scottish monarchs.

Elizabeth I of England.

  The stamps depicting James IV,  James V and Mary were all issued as part of a set of 6 stamps released by Royal Mail on 23 March 2010 which depicted monarchs of the House of Stewart from 1406 to 1625. The stamp depicting Elizabeth I was issued on 21 April 2009 as part of a set of 6 stamps on the subject of the Tudor monarchs. 
  Mary Queen Of Scots' son, James, is the only monarch to feature on 2 of these stamps - first as James VI in the House of Stewart series and then again as James I in a set of 7 stamps which was released on 15 June 2010 which depicted the generally disastrous monarchs of the House Of Stuart:-

James VI of Scotland and I of England.
James VI of Scotland and I of England.

  Finally, I also depict another Scottish nationalist label I have in my collection which is on the subject of the poet Robert Burns. This is additional to that featured in Blog 406 and features a portrait of Burns, his signature, a thistle, the Saltire (Scotland's national flag) and along each edge, quotes from the poet's work. Two dates are included on the label in Roman numerals - 1759 and 1959 - which implies that the item was produced to commemorate the bicentenary of Burns' birth which was on 26 January 1759:-

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