OSTEND. Scottish?, Country Dance Tune (4/4 time). D Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). The tune appears in the Skene Manuscript, a lute or mandora book of c. 1615, and commemorates the siege of Ostend  in present-day Belgium from 1601-1604, one of the longest on record. This siege, in which some 70,000 died, occurred during a conflict between the Dutch and Spanish. Robin Williamson records that the Spanish Governante of the Netherlands, Isabella Eugenia, vowed not to change her undergarments as long as the conflict lasted. When the Dutch held out for three years and three months, "the other ladies of the court had to dye their own undergarments to keep pace with their royal mistress." Samuel Bayard (in his article "A Miscellany of Tune Notes") finds the melody to be the precursor to the English country dance tune "Parson's Farewell (The)," printed by Playford. He maintains the air can be traced back to the Continent, probably Holland (as one might conclude from the English title), and cites its appearance in Adriaen Valerius Nederlandtsche Gedenck-Clanck (1626), the Starter's Friesche Lust-Hof (1621), and the Thysius Lute Book (c. 1600). The first two works refer to the tune as a bourrée. The Thysius Lute book appears to predate the Skene.
The Skene manuscript was in the possession of Dr. George Skene, Professor of Humanity and Philosophy in Marischal College, Aberdeen. He presented it to Dr. Burney in June, 1781. It appears to have been originally compiled by Sir Robert Gordon of Straloch and is inscribed:
An Playing Booke for the Lute. Where in ar contained many evrrents and other musical things. Musica mentis medicina maestae. At Aberdein. Notted and collection by Robert Gordon, in the year of our Lord 1627. In Februarie."
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: W. Dauney (Ancient Scottish Melodies), Edinburgh, 1838.
Recorded sources: Flying Fish, Robin Williamson - "Legacy of the Scottish Harpers, vol. 2" (1986).