Home > History > Scottish Soldiers in France in the Reign of the Sun King: Nursery for Men of Honour

Scottish Soldiers in France in the Reign of the Sun King: Nursery for Men of Honour

  • Title: Scottish Soldiers in France in the Reign of the Sun King: Nursery for Men of Honour
  • Series: History of Warfare
  • ISBN 10: 900413865X
  • Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers
  • Published: 2004
  • Pages: 292
  • Format: PDF


This book grew out of doctoral research on Scottish soldiers in France and the Netherlands c. 1660–92. It was apparent at the time how great was the scope of such a study, and the decision to restrict the current work to France alone is the result of this. The Scottish contribution to the armies of the Sun King was indeed small, but it was by no means insignificant. Their efforts and sacrifices are all the more important because of what preceded them, and because of what would follow. It is all too easy to see the contribution of men such as George Douglas, Earl of Dumbarton, or Andrew Rutherford, Earl of Teviot, as just another chapter in the what many historians insist on seeing as a surviving “auld” alliance between Scotland and France. Indeed, this link retained strong and important symbolic value in the reign of Louis XIV, but it played no role at all in the decisions or actions of Scottish soldiers fighting for him. Furthermore, the later history of Jacobite opposition to James II’s successors in Britain resulted not from the period of military service in France in the Sun King’s reign but, rather, from the specific facts of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688. It is, therefore, quite wrong to see in the service of Scottish soldiers in France in the Sun King’s reign, anything but the attempt by a relatively small body of men to maintain themselves in employment and a particular style of life. Versed in the ‘cult of arms’ and eager to participate in an activity they felt to be their birth-right, the Scottish officers and their men who fought in France undoubtedly looked to the past as a guide to profit and occupation in their own present. Sadly for them, they were to discover that change was in the air: the whole system on which their employment, livelihood and status depended was to be challenged and transformed before their very eyes. For the commanders of regiments, such as George Douglas was, the experience would be even more damaging, with issues of personal ownership and control of such units at the heart of the matter.

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