Serving the Republic: Scottish Soldiers of the United Provinces, 1572-1782

Biography: Jochem Miggelbrink wrote a PhD thesis on the Scots Brigade between 2000-2005. Before his dissertation: Serving the Republic: Scottish Soldiers of the United Provinces, 1572-1782 (2005) Miggelbrink majored in Ancient History at Utrecht University and graduated on Celtic mercenaries with Hellenic political entities. 

Q: What motivated you to write a dissertation on the Scots Brigade?

A: I was very much interested in a PhD abroad. The European University Institute in Fiesole (near Florence) provided the opportunity to conduct comparative research on the early modern period in Europe. After some exchange of ideas with Maarten Prak and Jan Lucassen, a proposal was written, and I was introduced to Laurence Fontaine who became my promotor. 

Q: Why did you study the Scots Brigade?

A: Through my interest in Celtic mercenaries, I noticed that little research had been done on the Scots Brigade since James Ferguson. 

Q: How did you conduct your research?

A: First constructing a research question. However, little research was done on the Scots Brigade. Therefore, visiting archives and collecting (primary) sources was the first step of my research, which also largely determined my methodology. Consequently, I experienced some difficulties since little had been written on the Scots Brigade, however, my research was based on new empirical evidence such as lists of conduct. This resulted in a more cultural perspective on the Scots Brigade. 

Q: Where did you find your sources?

A: Archives in the United Kingdom, The Hague, and the garrison cities. 

Q: How did Scottish soldiers reflect on their identity. Since they were Scottish, but gradually integrated in the Netherlands? In other words, were they more loyal to Scotland or the Republic?

A: This was one of the most interesting aspects of my research. First of all, ‘identity’ is a rather anachronistic term. I doubt the Scots reflected on their identity. However, there were notions of belonging and loyalty. At times these notions of loyalty could be contradictory. For example, during the Anglo Dutch wars they felt a loyalty to their employer, but also to the British crown. During their employment in the army of the Dutch Republic they operated as a distinct separate entity. In the lists of conduct of the officers it showed for instance that a number of Scottish officers spoke Gaelic. This conflict of loyalty culminated at the beginning of the 4thAnglo Dutch war when the Dutch Republic decided to fully integrate the Scots Brigade in the army of the Dutch Republic. For some officers this went too far and even though some of them were 3rd or 4th generation Scots they decided to return home. 

Additional information:

Interview with dr. Jochem Miggelbrink

Interviewers: Rudolf de Blij & Theo Dekker 

Location: Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam).

*This interview was conducted in Dutch but translated into English to reach a wider audience. 

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