Veere's monopoly on trade with Scotland
Island Stories #13 Traveling back in time in the lovely town of Veere
In 1470, the King of Scotland received a young lion; it was a gift from a nobleman in Veere. It is just one example of the close ties between one of the most beautiful cities of Zeeland with Scotland. A connection still visible today in Veere; 'the Scottish houses' are for many visitors the first thing they will see when arriving in Veere.
I always enjoy walking the streets of this nearby town, where history seems to be alive wherever you look around you. If you ignore the modern boats in the foreground of this picture, you see what Veere looked like many centuries ago. Some of the houses you see are Scottish Houses, and one of these is nowadays a museum about the history of these houses and the connection of Veere with Scotland.
In 1444, the friendship across the North Sea strengthened when Wolfert van Borsele married Mary Steward; she was the fifth daughter of King James I of Scotland. Another milestone in the relation with Scotland was reached in 1541, when Veere became the staple for Scottish goods, with wool being by far the most important product. Wool was very popular in the Flemish cloth industry.
Possession of the Scottish staple meant that all kinds of products could only be sold in Veere. Factors based in Veere sold the goods on behalf of Scottish merchants. The family ties with the Scottish royal family proved to be an asset in gaining this trade monopoly.
The Scots were essential for the economy in the port city and enjoyed all kinds of privileges. They owned warehouses, offices, residences, and their own church with a pastor. They could eat and stay in the De Swane inn without paying excise duty on beer and wine. The Scots also had their own legal system, and there was a Scottish cemetery.
If you ever visit Zeeland, don't miss this beautiful little town. I wish I could write more now since there are so many stories to tell, but the pain in my left arm caused by the neck hernia warns me not to. I will soon be back in Veere, and more pictures of this town with short postcard-size stories will follow.
So stay tuned to the 'Island Stories,' the summer version of The Planet newsletter. There were quite a few new paying subscribers in the last weeks. I thank you all for your support!
Scots girn about grits, gruel, and greens, four centuries of Scots life in Veere, Peter Blom, translated by James Allan, Stichting Veere-Schotland 2008.