Mercenaries were another Scots export to the Low Countries. After
the Reformation Scots fought across Europe mainly on the Protestant
side, most famously of all for the King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus,
but also extensively for the Dutch United Provinces in Germany.
The Dutch Brigade alone employed 1,500 Scots from 1572-1782 and
some 25,000 Scots served with the Scandinavian powers in the Thirty
Years War against the Holy Roman Emperor. However, mercenaries
didnt just flow in one direction. With the outbreak of the
Wars of the Covenant in Scotland in 1638, ports like Veere in
Holland sent many experienced Scots troops back home to fight.
For a few, with luck, the life of the mercenary brought fame and
fortune in the service of the great kings of Europe, but for most
the prospects were bleak. Even if they survived the brutality
of battle, capture often meant death, as only officers were ransomed.
was from Holland that an invasion of Britain was launched that
allowed the Scottish exiles to return home. Late in 1688 the Dutch
William of Orange invaded England with 15000 troops to drive King
James II from the throne in London. James, fearing for his life,
fled into exile in France.
In the wake of Williams coup a host of Scottish exiles returned
to reshape Scotland by applying the new ideas they had encountered
in Holland. Among them were men like Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun,
defender of Scotlands parliamentary liberties; the Earl
of Argyll, involved in massive financial speculation; and William
Carstares, who transformed Edinburgh University along similar
lines to Leidens and persuaded William of Orange to agree
to a Presbyterian Kirk in Scotland. Most importantly of all, these
men brought new economic ideas gleaned from the Dutch money markets
(the most advanced in Europe) to transform the Scots economy.
In 1695 the
Scottish Parliament created two new financial enterprises both
based on Dutch models: The Bank of Scotland (based on the Bank
of Amsterdam) and the Company of Scotland (set up to trade in
Africa and the East Indies and based on the Dutch East India Company).
They were designed to increase Scottish access to credit and trade;
were founded by men with strong Dutch connections.
John Holland founded the Bank of Scotland - an Englishman with
extensive connections to Scottish merchants in London and Holland
as well as to the East India Company; and William Paterson founded
The Company of Scotland - the Scot who founded the Bank
of England and was highly trained in Dutch commerce.
Scotlands horizons were expanding. The New World across
the Atlantic was becoming economically successful and this altered
Scotlands relations with Europe. The European lifeline had
sustained and enriched Scotland for centuries, but now the economic
map was shifting. Scotland moved from the fringe of Europe into
the centre of a transatlantic trading system. Trade now operated
on a global scale and Scots set off around the world in pursuit
of its opportunities. In the process many Scots became citizens
of the world, leaving their names in the unlikeliest of places.