This was in a nutshell the content of the 45 minutes talk of guest speaker Rudolf de Blij, co-founder of the Friends of Scots Brigade Foundation – at the lunch meeting of the Royal Northern & University Club .
This meeting took place on Tuesday, the 28th of June in Aberdeen.
After his presentation there was a lively discussion which demonstrated the great interest of the audience for this topic
It was also a good opportunity to draw attention to the thesis prizes the Foundation awards to students which thesis are dealing with the military and/or socio-economic aspects of the Scots Brigade.
Actually, these are the only 3 titles which cover more or less the whole period of the 200 year presence of the Scots Brigade in what is now known as The Netherlands.
All these books are in English, although one is written by a Dutchman, by Dr. Joachim Miggelbrink to be precise.
As the topic is “bi-national“ – Scottish and Dutch – this English focus should not be a surprise. But it still remains striking that until so far no Scots Brigade history is written in the Dutch language . This is the more remarkable as the “ field of action“ is directed from The Netherlands and the action itself is also for a big part on Dutch territory.
Does this explain why nearly nobody in The Netherlands has ever heard about the history of the Scots Brigade? A good guess!
Another element which might draw the attention is that the standard work, “Papers , illustrating the History of the Scots Brigade …” appeared more than one century ago: in 1899!
In the meantime the way of “doing history“ has changed quite a bit. To start with: sources are uncovered by digitalising material nowadays.
This allows the researchers to transcribe the manuscripts accurately.
Another advantage of this kind of processing of sources is that the material can be searched for with key words. A practice which facilitates to reveal connections that otherwise would stay uncovered.
A start with such new research might be given upon the material that is not used by editor James Ferguson of the above mentioned “ Papers…”., just because it was too abundant. This material is nowadays available in a public place: the National Library of Scotland.
Who takes this challenge? Is it not a lovely topic for a thesis?
Further, Rudolf cannot wait for a total new history about the Scots Brigade will be written. This time in the Dutch language, knowing that Jack Abernathy of St. Andrews University is working on the Scottish Brigade for his Ph.D., in the English language.