The Auld Alliance

Apparently there is a legend that the treaty of 1295 named the Auld Alliance actually dates back to an agreement made between Achaius, a legendary king of Scots, and Charlemagne, where-by they both agreed to help each other fight the Saxons.

The Scotsman

Legend suggests the Auld Alliance (or Vieille Alliance if you are French) originated in 809, when a Scots king named Achaius or Eochaid allegedly agreed to help Charlemagne fight the Saxons.


Does anyone have any information regarding what the original source is for this claim, and where and when the legend began?


1 Answer 1


I am 99% sure the earliest reference is in John of Fordun's Chronica Gentis Scottorum, written in the second half of the 14th century. Fordun is the earliest historian to provide accounts of the long line of largely invented Scottish monarchs that were created as a counter-myth to the English mythological origin stories.

Fordun also created, or recorded for the first time, a legendary origin for the "Auld Alliance", which was something else that it was useful to have a much longer precedent for than actually existed. Associating Scotland with Charlemagne gave "evidence" of Scotland's longevity as an independent nation existing on an equal footing with the greatest kings and loyal to the Holy Roman Empire.

In fact the "Auld" Alliance wasn't very old at all when Fordun wrote, dating back no further than the reign of John Balliol and 1295, almost within living memory.

The importance of the newly-minted myth, however, can be seen from the fact that it was also incorporated into the official explanation of the Scottish Royal Standard. The red border pattern of alternating fleur-de-lis in the standard (called a "double tressure flory counterflory gules" in heraldry-speak) surrounding the red Scottish lion was claimed to be a gift of Charlemagne to the Scots reflecting the alliance and the relationship of Scotland with the (Frankish/French) Holy Roman Empire. In fact it is seen used as part of the standard only from the reign of Alexander III in the late 13th century, a few decades before the Franco-Scottish Alliance was first agreed.

Link to Fordun's chronicle (Skene translation). Account of Achay and the Franco-Scottish Alliance begins at page 127.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.