3. The Salamander

By Kate McGregor (https://katemcgregor.academia.edu/)

As wedding presents go a ship is certainly the pièce de résistance. A gift from the French King François I to his new son-in-law James V, King of Scots, it represented the renewal of the Franco-Scots ‘Auld alliance’. [1] At its helm was a glistening salamander, a ‘dragon in flames of fire’, and the emblem of the French king.

The Salamander, with the capacity to hold two hundred mariners and twenty gunners, was an expensive piece of military equipment: a physical manifestation of the strength of the Franco-Scots alliance and pledge to defend each other. [2] The marriage itself had taken place on New Year’s Day at Notre Dame in Paris between the French princess Madeleine and James. [3] The ship then carried the newly-weds back to their Scottish kingdom in May 1537.

The vessel would end up playing a vital role in Scottish diplomacy and war. With the death of Madeleine in July 1537 James sought a new French bride and the Salamander was sent to bring Marie de Guise to Scotland. [4] Moreover, it was the flagship in James’ expedition to the Western Isles in the summer of 1540. [5] In the Anglo-Scots wars, after James’ death in 1542, the Salamander would see battle and was eventually captured by the English in 1544. The very reason we have this sketch of the Salamander is because Henry VIII commissioned a roll of his navy, which included the recently captured ship.

It is unclear when the Salamander was destroyed. It may have been as late as 1574, when there is a reference to its burning. [6] It was ironic, perhaps, that a ship whose namesake was supposedly invulnerable to fire would eventually burn after all. [7]

References:
[1] Arthur Fox-Davies, A Complete Guide to Heraldry (London, 1909) p.230 https://archive.org/details/completeguidetoh00foxduoft
[2] The Anthony Roll of Henry VIII’s Navy: Pepys Library 2991 and British Library Additional MS 22047 with related documents, Occasional Publications of the Navy Records Society, Vol. 2, eds. C.S. Knight and D.M. Loades (Aldershot, 2000) p. 70
[3] Elizabeth Bonner, ‘Scotland’s ‘Auld Alliance’ with France, 1295-1560’, History, vol. 84, no. 273, 1999, p.27 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1468-229X.00097
[4] Andrea Thomas, Princelie Majestie (Edinburgh, 2005) pp. 158-159
[5] Jamie Cameron, James V: The Personal Rule 1528-1542 (East Linton, 1998) p. 246
[6] Correspondance Diplomatique De Bertrand De Salignac De La Mothe Fenelon, vol. 6 (1840) p.93 https://archive.org/stream/correspondancedi06feneuoft#page/92/mode/2up
[7] The Anthony Roll of Henry VIII’s Navy: Pepys Library 2991 and British Library Additional MS 22047 with related documents, Occasional Publications of the Navy Records Society, Vol. 2, eds. C.S. Knight and D.M. Loades (Aldershot, 2000) p.168

Image: ‘The Salamander’, The Anthony Roll of Henry VIII’s Navy: Pepys Library 2991 and British Library Additional MS 22047 with related documents, Occasional Publications of the Navy Records Society, Vol. 2, eds. C.S. Knight and D.M. Loades (Aldershot, 2000) p.70 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salamander_of_Leith#/media/File:AnthonyRoll-27_Salamander.jpg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close