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Scotland's relations with France

The Treaty of Perpetual Peace did not bring an end to animosity between Scotland and England. James IV did not remain bound to his alliance with England alone. In 1492, he had signed a treaty with King Hans of Denmark and honoured it in 1502 when he sent a small fleet of ships with troops to support him against an uprising led by Swedish and Norwegian forces. Scotland was also a traditional ally of France. Scottish envoys frequently visited the court of King Louis XII and both kings exchanged letters on a regular basis.

Henry VII and his advisors were suspicious about James’ growing involvement in European politics. In 1506, relations between England and Scotland worsened. James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, was detained in England on his return journey from France on the grounds that he did not have a safe-conduct. In 1507, Louis asked James for military support in his Italian campaign to safeguard his lands in the Duchy of Milan. By 1508, there were rumours in the English court that James was about to renew his alliance with France. Henry died in 1509 and was succeeded by his 17 year old son, Henry VIII. Under the terms of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace, the accession of a new king in Scotland or England required both kings to renew the treaty within six months. James and Henry VIII did so but relations between them soured after Henry joined the Pope’s ‘Holy League’ against France.

At this time, Louis was in dispute with Pope Julius II over the ownership and control of states in Italy. The Pope had persuaded King Ferdinand of Spain and Emperor Maximilian to join him. James was in a difficult position. Should he side with England and the Pope or with France?

James and his Council opted to renew their alliance with France based on their historical alliance and for economic reasons to maintain access to skilled shipwrights and supplies of timber to increase the size of the Scottish fleet. Extensive negotiations began between James and Louis.

Link to a timeline of the reign of James IV.

Source 2:
Letter from King Louis XII of France, 1512
Image of Louis XII from Wikipedia, used under Creative Commons licence. Image shows detail of a letter from Louis XII of France, 1512. National Records of Scotland reference: SP7/21/54




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