The History of Leith

June 22, 2006

The Treaty of Perpetual Peace

This beautiful document has an equally attractive title – it is the Treaty of Perpetual Peace, concluded between Scotland and England in 1502 and cemented by the marriage of James IV of Scotland to Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England, the following year. James and Henry each had a treaty compiled, and they were then exchanged – so this one, although held in the National Archives of Scotland, was written and illuminated by English craftsmen.


The significance of the alliance is reflected in the richness of decoration. The treaty Scotland sent to England was decorated with thistles and roses to represent the two countries. This was the first occasion the two countries had been linked symbolically by representations of these plants, and the court poet William Dunbar used this theme for his poem on the marriage, The Thrissill and the Rois.


The treaty promised everlasting peace between the two countries, the first effective lull over 200 years of intermittent warfare: ‘keeping in view the bond and amity, truce, friendship and alliance which presently exists between our most illustrious princes… and also the marriage to be contracted before Candlemas next, we will… that there be a true, sincere, whole and unbroken peace, friendship, league and alliance… from this day forth in all times to come, between them and their heirs and lawful successors.’

The treaty lasted just eleven years before James and 10,000 of his men were killed at the battle of Flodden in 1513. However, the treaty had a more enduring legacy – in 1603 James and Margaret’s great-grandson, James VI, succeeded to the throne of England on Elizabeth’s death.

source-Scottish Executive

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